Race 3 of the Tempo Events Winter Series 2015, but the first time in several years that Simkiss had made an appearance at one of the ‘near as dammit’ 10k’s in Ilmington, the road runners equivalent of fell running/XC (namely a f#cking huge climb and descent).
Our athlete faired better than his own expectations at Telford, and with London Marathon base building underway, this race was identified as a ‘C’ race in his training – something to get him off his arse in the spell between Xmas and New Year and put some effort in.
A busier than ever race field did little to change Simkiss’ late entry, poor excuse for a warmup, and lining up at the start with minutes to spare. The few minutes at the start were enough to speak with a few familiar faces and gauge the competition – obvious contenders for top spot were Rich Shephard & Connor Carson, another handy looking guy, and of course there was always the chance of an ‘unknown’ pushing things at the front.
The race got underway at a fairly pedestrian pace, a slight drop in elevation saw Simkiss roll to the front of the pack and lead the way through the first kilometer in 3:23, before the lead group turned to face the god awful climb up Nebsworth Lane, a relentless 1.25mi uphill, climbing about 500ft. Some chat between the runners in the early stages soon quietened knowing there’s a Strava segment to be had – Simkiss kicked on early, knowing he’s useless uphill, he thought he’d make the most of the brief spell before his legs started screaming.
Only Rich Shephard came along for the ride and it wasn’t long before he was leading the way, our lad Simkiss hanging onto his coat tails, before finally the triathlete-come-runner broke away in the yellow vest of Stratford AC. Two thirds of the way up the climb and a gap of inches, became feet, became metres, became more metres… Simkiss was working hard carting 3 tonnes of thigh up the hill, tears rolling down his face as his dream of being crowned ‘king of the hill’ were quashed by Shephard – how was he running so well uphill damn him? This wasn’t part of the script.
Summit reached and the legs began spinning, Shephard was now 50m clear and at first the gap didn’t seem to be closing… by 2mi it was beginning to, and at 2.75mi Rich pulled up alongside Rich, with Rich.S. tired from the climb and Rich.S having worked hard to close the gap, it was Rich who pushed hard to take the lead, and whilst Rich did his best to prevent a lead from forming, his tired legs couldn’t respond well enough – Rich was undoubtedly stronger at this point in the race and it was obvious who the man in front was.
Gravity now on his side – there was no stopping Simkiss (literally), as he gathered more and more momentum, the brakes on the Simkiss wagon glowing red and pouring out smoke – knocking out a 4:36 mile in the process… with no idea what the gap was, Simkiss wasn’t letting up, after all – there was still a hill to come.
Simkiss held it together, splashing through puddles all the way to the finish line… taking his first race win since the early stages of the East Midlands Grand Prix.
With the Christmas chocolate stocks and mince pie stash now depleted, it’s time for Simkiss to follow Matty Adcock’s Cock-a-leekie soup diet and try (/fail) to bid farewell to the 12 stone marker on the scales for the 8th year on the trot.
Next up – County XC Champs… Sadly McCarkiss will not be eligible for the Team prize since the project is not currently affiliated to their local County Athletic Association, which comes as very sad news to Rich and Hywel, as the team of two were sure to challenge for a medal.