Stratford’s Big 10k 2016

Several years have passed since Simkiss last competed in Stratford’s Big 10k – Five in fact. Back in 2011 Simkiss podiumed in 3rd place with a time of 34:04, having won the event in 2010 with a time of 34:07. Now in 2016 (in case you forgot), with the Berlin Marathon only 2 weeks away the hope was for a solid performance running sub 33.

Making his most of a hometown advantage, Simkiss parked up in local streets only 1km from the race HQ, saving a fantastic £3 on parking charges – regardless of the race result, he already felt like a winner. The usual 2 mile warm up jog was completed whilst eyeing up the competition and trying to suss out the opposition and deduce the outcome of the race based on a complex matrix of factors including runner weight/leanness, choice of kit, choice of club, and what drills they were performing (if any) and general posture. Some familiar faces lined up in the holding pens, former club mates and a number of other running acquaintances – but also a few unknowns… there was no option, Simkiss was going to have to complete the course as quickly as he could and accept end the result for what it was.

Excellent race organisation as usual from the Tempo Events team, with the added bonus of closed roads! My thanks to Rob Minton, Sarah Bland, Paddy Davies of Tempo Events and their army of helpers. With the field assembled at the start and the green light given from the timing team – it was Rob who got the horn and started the race.

Simkiss pushed hard from the off, unaware of who else would commit to a punishing early pace, though he was keen not to overdo it and pay the price later on. With a number of spritely young and lean athletes from Stratford AC it could’ve easily been a ridiculously fast paced opening. Simkiss could soon feel the early effort and was trying to break the group; the cracks were already starting to show.

With 6 metres already gone this proved to a decisive tactic – sweat now pouring from the brow of Simkiss the lead group had fractured and it was only former clubmate Steve Marr of Kenilworth who pushed on away from the pack and settled in behind Simkiss.

Photo footage at 300m captures the decisive split formed in the field early on

Taken at 300m, the gaps in the field are already evident

There are varying opinions on when the lead pair of Simkiss and Marr snapped the elastic to the chasing peleton, some say 49m, some say 51m… but by 200m the move had been well and truly made, and it was at this point 2nd placed Marr declared Simkiss was free to go, waving him off with a gentle kiss, and a vow to see him again at the finish.

‘Mum’ Simkiss stood waiting and cheering as the leaders ran past – surely her boy Richard was well on his way to victory now, with just 9750m to go. No pressure.

Simkiss forged on with a strong as confident stride, like a Midland based Mo Farah – but a lot heavier, and hairier, and slower; with a louder doorbell too.

Mile 1 had passed in 5:12, including an opening hill and gradual descent,
Mile 2 slowed to 5:28 owing to an elevation gain that wouldn’t be repaid until:
Mile 3, passing in 5:11 – the net descent bringing the fastest mile of the race.
The race had now reached the monotony of the Greenway and with 5k complete in 16:26, the notion that there was still another 5k of lonely effort to go was a little demoralising, but Simkiss drew on his marathon training, where sustained 5k efforts have been ten-a-penny (although not quite at this pace).

Mile 4 passed in 5:20
Mile 5 in 5:22 – The endless greenway was taking its toll on body and mind, though the excitement of a change in scenery past Holy Trinity Church, through ‘Old Town’, past the RSC and onto Bancroft gardens saw a slight increase in pace despite the undulations, twists and turns to complete mile 6 in 5:16.

With the finish line in sight and the victory all but complete – Simkiss launched the aeroplane down the home straight to cross the line in 25:47 33:03. Initially a little disappointed with his time, Simkiss soon realised he’d have broken 33 had it not been for his fannying around on the home straight – thus settled for his >33min time and a top-up on his runners’ tan.

Photos courtesy of

It is with great sadness that we today announce Simkiss has been taken ill with a serious case of ‘Taper Flu’… a sore throat and phlegm-y cough developed at a rapid rate following the race and has meant none stop Barry White impressions from our low and croaky voiced athlete. A strict diet of Halls soothers, Berocca and Night Nurse should see him fit and back to training by tomorrow.

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