Almost two weeks have passed since Simkiss fell victim (again) to an in-form Rich Shephard at the third of the Tempo Events Winter Series. Following and indulgent festive buildup, Simkiss had at least remained undefeated in eating if nothing else, lining up on the start line like a brandy soaked Christmas pudding.
Anti-clockwise around the route this time, meaning a flat (downhill) opening KM, humongous climb up Larkstoke for over 2km, 4km increasingly aggressive descending, then a mix of flats, climbs and a smidge of descent to get you across the finish line.
A typically steady start to the race as athletes did their best to keep the turkey down, rounding the corner at the base of Mount Ilmington, the mere whiff of an incline and the field strung out – Shephard, Simkiss, Mansell and Clarke headed up the peleton. Keen to make up for a disappointing race 2, and feeling surprisingly fresh (must’ve been the whisky) – it didn’t take long for Simkiss to emerge from the shadow of the leaders and start pushing the pace on the climb; Shephard matched Simkiss and the pair moved away from the rest.
Applying further pressure and still feeling within acceptable limits, Simkiss gained an inch or two on Shephard which grew to a few strides at least by the brief flat respite partway up… by the time the flat had turned to climb once more, the two Rich’s were side by side and left base camp together for the summit. Two strides later and Simkiss’s quads were seizing up – the initial surges taking their toll at an unprecedented level, Shephard moved away and the wind was gone from the sails of SS Simkiss, who was now fighting with every ounce of his strength and determination to not drop to a walk.
Reaching the beacon atop the mound, Shephard had a gap not dissimilar in size to the lead he had in the same race this time last year… this year however, there was no coming back for Simkiss, who was wading through treacle and carrying a sack of bricks, and as the descent started and the discomfort in the quads intensified, Simkiss was a man defeated; Shephard galloped off ahead.
The press team at the Stratford Herald praised Shephard’s victory and impressive course time “despite backing off the pace at the end of the race”, emphasising the emphatic-ness of his performance stating that “he beat the series leader, Richard Simpkiss, by an impressive two minutes”. The McCarkiss press board would like clarify that Simkiss also eased off the pace at the end of the race, albeit his race ended halfway up Larkstoke at 2km.