As the Rugby World Cup swept into Rugby in the form of a ‘crappy little fanzone’ with a big screen, sports fans around the world were acutely aware that the annual Rugby 10 mile was taking place, in Barby.
A bumper crowd was in town as hundreds of Rugby Union fans trawl around England following their respective teams, unable to resist the temptation of visiting the home of Rugby Football and seeing where it all began. Soon after their arrival, having realised there is nothing to actually see, they find themselves admiring some of the more cultural aspects that Rugby has to offer. For a town with a relatively small central hub, having two places where people can drink from 9am for £2 a pint (Lloyds and ‘spoons…) will appeal to the Australian fans who make it over for the tournament. Following a quick pint of Fosters, there are a huge array of ‘shitty’ pound shops where they can indulge in a range of merchandise from screen protrectors that don’t quite fit the screen of your tablet properly to an auxiliary cable to play music through your car speakers from your phone.
With Greggs’ consolidating their three stores into one megastore, lunch can be bought from as little as £2 for four sausage rolls, or a Cheese and Bean slice can be purchased for a modest 80p. The Clocktowers offers an opportunity to buy a mobile phone in almost every other shop, whilst the Rugby branch of Wilkinson’s holds the world record for the amount of customers in a wheelchair (not one…) at one time.
Back to the Barby 10 mile road race, starting from the Arnold Arms, which according to Google, is closed down. Representing MCKEP today, were Jordan, Simkiss and McCarthy. Jordan and Simkiss were relatively fresh from their recent, extremely disappointing, half marathon exploits. Fears that Jordan had contracted SARS were short lived, it was just a cold. Meanwhile Simkiss had been enjoying a week in the sun with some last minute training in a hope to get over his poor showing in Bristol. In contrast McCarthy was still basking in the glory of becoming the 2015 Port Charlotte Treasure Trot champion, back in August in Florida, the fame and fortune that had followed the victory had somewhat distracted him from his training regime, but he was still confident of clocking around 57:13, with Simkiss offering to ‘take it easy’ and run with McCarthy.
It was to be a somewhat emotional run for the pairing, with McCarthy setting sail for lands afar in a week or so, it would be their last race together and his last race in Warwickshire (tickets are still available to watch him get beat in the Chester Metric Marathon next week, a race he entered presuming he would win because it’s such a random distance, only for clubmate Matt Adcock to be running). It is, technically, not impossible that local journalist, Paul Okey of the Leamington Courier, would refer to the Simkiss-McCarthy pairing as, ‘the two most gifted and talented sportsmen that Leamington has ever had the privilege of calling its own’.
Arthur Sleep, the controversial news reported from news show, Gigglebiz, had this to say,
What can you say about this pairing, when they first came up with the idea of creating their little project and started writing their blogs, we were all laughing. No-one is laughing any more, let me tell you. They continue to recycle the same gags, the same images and the same ‘in jokes’ that no-one understands. Their real talent has to be at pissing people off though; name a club, group or administrative body in the sport and if they have heard of MCKEP, they’re no doubt thoroughly f*cked off with them.
Anyway, the Race Report…..
As athletes congregated at the start, it was obvious that the Simkiss-McCarthy domination of 2013 would not be reinacted; Toby Spencer was on the scene sporting his Midlands Athletics vest, guaranteeing him race victory. Rumours spread amidst the crowd that Spencer’s vest choice was a sign of unrest for him at Godiva, which obviously indicates his desire to join the ranks of ‘the project’. Heading up the Toby Spencer fan club for the day, Namir Batavia, was happy to go on record saying “I’m joining [McCarkiss] once Toby’s joined”.
With fond memories of proper runners completing this course in years gone by, Stuart Harris blew the whistle to start the 2015 running of the Rugby 10.
Amidst a sea of ‘early spurters’, known collectively for spurting ahead at the start of a race (with nothing else implied), Jordan tucked in with McCarthy sat just off his shoulder whilst Steamboat Simkiss took a while to get up to speed and latch onto the McCarkiss Train. It wasn’t long before a group moved away from the main field, which soon became 8… became 7… became 6… The three MCKEP’teers, Toby Spencer, a guy (Gordon Lee) from Leicester Coronations, and another (Mark Couldwell) in the green & yellow of Charnwood.
The group of six would repeatedly break to a 4+2 and rejoin as the astute founding fathers Simkiss and McCarthy repeatedly left the pack, intent on running not a gnat’s testicle over the advertised 10mi distance and following the shortest possible route. Meanwhile the other four foolishly gallivanted, all willy-nilly, along the roads surrounding Barby and Kilsby before the race finally headed towards its host town, Rugby.
Now over 2 miles into the race, with a first split of 5:12, and a second of 5:18, the group was beginning to stretch, and it was McCarthy’s elastic which snapped first, despite encouragement from Simkiss. Jordan was happy sat alongside Lee and Couldwell as Simkiss too began to flounder. Remembering he’d left his GPS watch at home, the decision to run an enjoyable 7.5mi to the finish with McCarthy and share his GPX file was too easy and he backed off to watch the race unfold ahead.
With the first hill of the race coming into view for the leaders – Spencer decided his warmup was over, and in the blink of an eye broke away, gapping himself from the rest at an unimaginable rate – a gap that would continue to grow all the way to the finish line. A 3rd mile split of 5:33 and the groans came thick and fast as the hill eventually came into sight for McCarthy & Simkiss, lumbering their way up cumbersome pair reasoned it was the sensible option to ‘go steady’ given the hills that lay ahead from 5-7mi.
As the hill was crested around 3.5mi Jordan and his associates had opened up a gap of 23 seconds, and Toby Spencer had (presumably) finished. Tickling the edge of Rugby with a half mile traffic dodging stretch along the A428, the race had justified its title before a long descent past a photographer saw runner’s making their best effort to look like a runner, or in Jordan’s case, his best effort to make a claimed ‘fairly easy effort’ look as painful and difficult as possible.
Photo Credit: Tim Nunan
The race reached it’s (literal) low point at 5mi – at 310ft above sea level, a guy was shouting out halfway split times, putting McCarthy bang on track for his anticipated 57:13 finish… the 5mi mark would also indicate the start of a 2 mile ascent. Splits of 6:00 and 6:19 saw McCarthy struggling to stay with Simkiss at the same point he’d fallen away in 2013, meanwhile Jordan and Couldwell looked to have consolidated their podium spots with comparative 5:39 and 6:04 splits. Spencer was now home and running his recovery bubble bath.
With a comfortable yet deceptively slow run in to the finish, Jordan clocked his last 5k in the 5:20’s while the MCKEP originals brought it home, crossing the line together with a safe 5:40, 5:28, 5:51… 2nd place for Jordan in 55:15 and after literally moments of analysis between race adjudicators, McCarthy was awarded 5th place by a nipple hair to Simkiss in 6th with an equal time of 57:13
The Project moves on to it’s season finale this evening with the annual ‘Beer Mile’, at Rugby track, circa 20:00. The winner of the race takes home the ‘McCarkiss Champion Runner of the Year’ trophy, won by Simkiss in 2013 for his Telford 10k performance and in by McCarthy in 2014 for his 1:10:30 at the Wirral Half Marathon. The board voted to use the beer mile race this year due to the fact that MCKEP has grown so significantly in recent months with the addition of decent runners, there was a huge risk McCarthy or Simkiss wouldn’t win the award at any other distance.