Arriving at Long Marston Airfield, memories of McCarthy’s 2012 second place in the 10k here flooded back as the bitter wind fired across the airfield. This was a stupid idea. 4 laps and a silly little out and back faced the Half Marathon competitors, as well as the additional task of dodging people who were participating in the 5k, 10k and Marathon, on the same course, at the same time.
A four mile warm up followed, this was cut down from seven that had been initially planned because Simkiss was in charge of logistics, this never happens when McCarthy plans the timings. (“McCarthy said he was running 20mins late, so I took my time getting ready – then he turned up on time and wondered why I wasn’t ready. He also chose to ignore ‘road closed ahead’ signs, and any directional information at all – Grrrrrrr” – Simkiss) – That said, four was enough of a struggle.
As with Coventry, the plan was to run the Half at ‘Marathon Pace effort’ and hope it would come out near 75, as soon as the race started into the wind a decision was made, bravely, to not worry about that and just run to feel and see what came out at the end. With two significant stretches into the headwind and one smaller one, the duo decided to take turns fronting up to the wind to allow the other some respite. A nice plan but it made little difference with the wind being so hard, in fact the thighs of Simkiss created a turbulent wind tunnel with gusts flying off in all sorts of places.
By the end of lap 1 the front of the race field had caught the tail end of the race field – which saw the race contenders weaving in and around the back of the race field, because a) the course was a bit narrow in places, and b) there was understandably much confusion over what the rather ambiguous signs “Runners Keep Left Unless Overtaking” actually meant.
The MCKEP athletes kept an eye on how the various races were unfolding in front of them – Friend of the Project Nick Hardy was settling into 2nd spot in the 10k, and it turned out the Project athletes were sat in 3rd and 4th position in the Half Marathon. Each lap saw Simkiss taking more of the windbreak role as McCarthy struggled for excuses on the pancake flat course. A watchful eye on the guy sat in 5th place at each of the switchbacks showed that he was fading and there would be no dash for the line.
In a complete role reversal of the Bristol Half Marathon 2013, McCarthy kindly offered Simkiss the honour of first MCKEP athlete across the line; so long as he showed mercy and waited for him. Simkiss had heard this before and was rightly dubious… however McCarthy’s ever deteriorating form suggested that he really was f#cked.
On a plus note – McCarthy glanced at his watch to see that the pair were on course to come in ahead of his Coventry Half Marathon time – that was until they completed their 4th lap and commenced the stupid out and back bit and it became apparent that the course was over distance. A steady progression of pace up to the line saw McCarthy keep his word, unlike at the Stratford 6, ‘letting’ Simkiss take the third spot
When looking at the splits, allowing for the wind, they could have been worse….
The athletes finished, enjoyed a complimentary half cup of water, and Simkiss collected his 3rd place placard – the best £40 you could spend on a Saturday morning… nearly…
The course was over distance… on an open airfield… There is no need for this.
The course had 4 sharp switchbacks per lap, 17 in total… on an open airfield… There is no need for this.
The entry fee was £20… There is no need for this.
In fact, the best thing about the event was the fantastic photography of the McCarkiss Winter Kit courtesy of yourraceday.co.uk.