Virgin Money London Marathon 2017: Pre Race Amble

Not wanting to detract from the eagerly anticipated race report, which will invariably be data heavy and mind numbingly boring to anyone without a strong penchant for stats and a love of running, as well as wanting to avoid extensive page load times owing to the expected waffle-fest – we’ve split out the pre race amble… a teaser for the main event if you will… except it will no doubt be more interesting than the race itself.

The McCarkiss decipals descended upon The Big Smoke in the days leading up to the 36th running of the London Marathon, spread across the city, and much like their ability to coordinate a team for any local running event, they all managed to visit the expo at similar times without crossing paths with any of their McCarkiss compatriots. The crowds were frustratingly crowd like and it was just the same old sh1t there anyway. Forced to walk through the adidas stand which was saturated with sheep queuing to buy their full priced, current season trainers and kit… utter madness… where’s the 50% off 2014 kit? Weaving through the crowds moving at a snails pace in an expo layout akin to an Ikea store; no we’re not interested in entering a marathon in Estonia, yes we do want free samples of clif bars and shot bloks… and some beet-it flapjack please… and no, I don’t want to actually buy any… If I could just have my goody-bag of free stuff I’ll be on my way. Cue more weaving through hopelessly slow ambling crowds to get back to the one operating DLR station and join the queue to get on the platform. So infuriating was the expo-experience, that its memory is enough to cause a subtle shift between first and third person writing.

This is after Simkiss and support crew (wife, mum, dad, sister & sister’s partner) had overcome a baptism of fire in the world of airbnb having arrived in a crack den-esque apartment (admittedly more middle class than your usual crack den) in Southwark… you know that place who’s council spent £15k redesigning its logo?

Money well Spent...

Before & after – money well spent

The overwhelming smell, questionable white stains on the sofas, brown stains on the carpets and beds which looked like someone had crawled out of them not 5 minutes ago wasn’t quite the ‘newly renovated apartment’ they were expecting, and following half an hour of near silent awkwardness with nobody wanting to admit it was quite as bad as it was… rooms were booked in a nearby travelodge.

Fast forward one pasta based evening meal and a sleep to race morning… Richard of Simkiss boarded the train towards Blackheath and was lucky enough to find a yard of floorspace to sit on, listening to other entrants discussing how they were ‘just taking it easy’ he couldn’t help but think he deserved their seat more than they did – if only they had any idea of the pain of Berlin and hours he’d put into training only to risk it all by sitting awkwardly on the floor. Chistopher of Simkiss followed on the next train (it turns out there is in fact someone able to arrive later than Richard)… Jordan had already arrived, unfortunately the dog had eaten his McCarkiss vest so he would be running in the colours of Leicester Coronation Chicken. Accompanying him were a few familiar faces from Hermitage, and the surprisingly tall Mark Pearce of the McCarkiss Swiss Branch. Hatswell and Davies joined shortly after.

Thirty hazy minutes later and Team MCKEP departed the Championship tent in a scene reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs… minds firmly focussed on the target ahead, or more immediately the portaloos, especially for Mr Orange (Pearce), having chugged down his eighth Lucozade Sport of the morning.

McCarkiss Team VMLM 2017

Hatswell, Simkiss, Pearce & Davies

All set about executing their own warmup/toileting routine as the time to race start dwindled. When only one other athlete remained in the Championship warmup area, Simkiss (R.) decided is must be nearly time to head for the start line… The Championship runners were all lined up, and the rest of the blue start runners were being walked round to line up behind them… once again Simkiss had seemingly missed the boat of starting with the championship runners – yet our Mr Brown remained calm having been in this position before – flashing the McCarkiss vest and his championship number pointing out “I’m supposed to be over there…” pointing in the general direction of Bekele. “I can’t let you through – you’re too late” responded the jobsworth official. Bugger…

Another Championship runner emerged from the portaloos to find himself in the same situation, there was no stopping this Macgyver though… without a moments hesitation he’d ducked the linked arms of the marshals. and tootled off to the championship start, Simkiss was still left stranded with the officials now even more resolute to not let anyone past… the other blue-starters shouting “let him through” in a display which could only be likened to the Berlin Wall protests of ’89, or at least a one man version of it.

There was only one remaining solution for the MCKEP’ian – he’d have to cross the road and hop over a 4ft barrier to go around the outside – a zero risk strategy which paid off… Simkiss trotted to the back of the championship athletes – giving a cheeky wave to the wall of officials. A series of excuse me’s and can I just squeeze through’s later and Simkiss was a few metres from the front, not far from Mr Pink[shoes] Hywel. The experienced Mr Blue [vest] Jordan, having lined up uncharacteristically late (circa 30mins ago) was perhaps 20m back from the first claim pair looking to lose their sub 2:30 virginity, Jordan too would be targeting sub 2:30 – the question was how far under 2:30 he’d be capable of having been focused more on the Half Marathon distance. Mr Blonde (Hatswell… known for his luscious locks) was loitering further back still, along with the easily identifiable McCarkiss Giant.

Pearce - head and shoulder above the rest, awaits the starting gun with s jovial Hatswell.

Pearce – head and shoulder above the rest, awaits the starting gun with a jovial Hatswell. (Andy Savery also sneaks into shot, bottom right)

Meanwhile McCarkiss new recruit Chris Simkiss, aka Simkiss Snr, lined up in the Fast Good For Age pen at the red start, taking a shot at bettering his PB from Zurich 1 year earlier following a winter of unexpected consistency in training, twinned with weekends of drinking and snowboarding… 2:55(ish) was the goal. Chris, aka Mr White (insert snow related reference here), who is rumoured to have joined the club owing to their warm embracement of large thighed athletes, as well as following the Simkiss family trait of being tight pocketed (drawn in by the bargainous membership fees like a moth t’lightbulb), and of course now that the UK’s leading vest design was no longer made from Fastrax’s patented sandpaper fabric – the appeal was too much to resist.

Which leaves McCarkiss sole female member Jude Peck (Reservoir Dogs shocked woman #1?), also at the Red start, to complete the McCarkiss Endurance Project’s presence at this years Virgin Money London Marathon. Jude herself in promising shape for sub 3:15.

The scene was set… weather near perfect… this was it… the time was upon us… the BBC had finally joined and the endless wait was over, the countdown began… 3… 2… 1…


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  1. Pingback: Virgin Money London Marathon 2017 Race Report – Yes… it’s here | McCarkiss Endurance Project

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