And so to Birkenhead for McCarthy, home of his beloved Tranmere Rovers for one final race before being fixed. His first race following his retirement. His first race as a charity runner in aid of the Royal Liverpool Hospital….how would he get on as a fun runner?
Like Bristol there was no hard and fast pacing plan, Tarus Elly arrived on the start line so there was no chance of winning. Placing third behind Martin Swensson and Benjamin Costello last year, with them both running again a nice target would be to beat them and the inexplicable recent form of McCarthy, that should have been quite achievable. As per Bristol, no gimmicks, no magic potions just treat it as if it is any other race, which it is, and the much more favourable night before pre race routine of 3 or 4 pints.
The race began on a cold and sunny morning and settling in behind Costello and Elly, the three passed the first mile in 5:04, 5k pace. Tarus pulled away at this point and basically won the race, but it was McCarthy who bridged the gap and with 2nd and 3rd miles of 5:18 and 5:20 he was now clear in second having passed the first 5k in around 16:12. The wind and rain that battered the promenade in this race last year were absent and just a slight headwind couldn’t hamper the perfect running conditions.
The five mile marker passed in 26:22 followed by 10k in 32:48 and then the half way chip pinged in a blistering (for McCarthy) 34:46, the 70 minute mark was on. As the course left the promenade and joined the coastal path around Wallasey Golf Club the shale and dirt paths seemed to knock the rhythm resulting in a few slower miles, but it was better than crossing the beach like last year. Miles of 5:32 and 5:38 for 10 and 11, but a 10 mile split of 53:46 meant that the PB from Bristol could go. A 12th mile of 5:28 left just one last mile to home and a 5:22 before an uncharacteristic sprint finish saw the clock stop at 70:30 for a PB of over a minute and second place.
Yet again the tactic of having no race plan and just going all out from the start seemed to pay off for McCarthy and all of a sudden sub70 looks really achievable given the half way split of 34:36. The undulating and poor terrain in the second half surely mean there is 30 seconds to be had on another course.
No race report would be complete without reference to the continual decline of Simkiss in the shadow of the rise and rise of the injured McCarthy. 2014 sees McCarthy putting nearly two minutes into Simkiss’ SB over Half Marathon, nearly half a mile in fact.
Let’s add some further context.
In 2010 Simkiss was running 72:30 and this year he has managed to knock a fantastic 9 seconds off that time, around 2 seconds a year, what a step up in class. In 2010 McCarthy was running 75:52 versus his current time of 70:30, in contrast he has only improved by five and a half minutes. If this trend continues it is likely we will see Simkiss go sub 70 in 2089.
Let’s really overcook the cake.
Simkiss ended his road campaign for the year and turned to XC at the weekend to try and put his terrible year behind him, only to randomly run a ten mile race on the Sunday, which he ran away from the field in to win in over 56 minutes (scroll above the 10 mile split of McCarthy). This has led some commentators (Rhuart Shopkins) to question what the hell is going on in the Simkiss camp and whether he knows what he is actually training for?
That’s enough for now.