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The McCarthy Cup
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2007/03/01)

Some of you may have heard whispers, rumblings, shadowy murmurs of this legendary prize. This article reveals all, bares the truth: what is this McCarthy Cup all about?

It’s mostly my creation. My brother, fellow XC Ottawan Ed, is four years younger than me. Growing up, we generally competed in the same sports – but he was always at least two age groups down. That stopped us from competing directly against each other. But, judging from the statistics, it would have been a good rivalry

  • When possible, we compare times – and I mean whenever possible. He owns the fastest McCarthy 1,500m (4:08 I think?), I own the 3000m (9:08) and the still-contested 10k road race title (34:08 – a McCarthy record that has existed since my long-faded high school years).
  • Although we’ve never done so, we could also compare relative placings at events – we both have a handful of city titles in cross-country running, skiing, track, but the precise totals escape me. He’s been to OFSAA more than I have, and he’s got higher placings at track, cross-country, and skiing OFSAA than me. We both have a few OUA medals. At National Championships, my best finish is 10th senior and 4th as a junior – he was 3rd as a junior one year, if I’m correct, but I don’t think his best-ever senior finish is as high as mine.
  • Finally, we could compare awards – he won junior male athlete of the year in high school – two years running, I think. I won senior male athlete of the year two years running. He’s been nominated for Carleton’s athlete of the year – I never have. We both have a few CIS All-Canadian banners, and Academic All-Canadian as well.

But, until last year, when I moved back from BC, we never really competed against each other on what I more or less think is an equal playing field. Sure, he’s still four years younger – that won’t change. But, with me at 26 and him at 22, I think our physical development has more or less slowed, or at least to the extent that I don’t feel outright BAD for beating him. And, if he’s not quite as developed yet, my few years of lower-volume training is starting to catch up with me. Which makes our head-to-head contests pretty interesting.

The McCarthy Cup was born in the 2005-06 season. It existed in my head until late January – just my informal, sibling-competitive memory of who won what ski race. I think I mentioned it to Ed at one point, and from then on, we were both definitely keeping track. Our team caught on, and kept asking us what the status was. That meant we had to start defining the rules:

  • Straight racing – whoever beats who gets the point. Time differential, though attractive to some, doesn’t count.
  • If we both start the race, it counts. If one of us drops out, too bad. But if one of us doesn’t start, it doesn’t count.
  • All ski races, including team time trials, count – but they have to be on snow.
  • Any and all distances count.

Part of the attraction was that 2005-06 was a tight race. I think I was ahead at the start, but Ed came back and had a good middle of the season to take the lead. I had to rely on a relatively strong National Champs to come back, including a gritty win in the 50k (we were both WAY back of the real winner). Ed made it close late in the season thanks to someone’s silly time trial concept (start at the bottom of Penguin and race to Gossip’s Corner – ouch!), but he ran out of snow and I took it, 7-6.

This season, the Cup has grown in infamy. And, once again, it’s a tight race. Here are the results so far in 2006-07:

  • mid-December, a 9k team TT on snow we had before it melted: Tom
  • Foret Montmorency Premieres Neiges, individual start classic 10k: Ed
  • Foret Montmorency Premieres Neiges, mass start skate 15k: Ed
  • Eastern Canadian Champs, 10k classic individual: Tom
  • Eastern Canadian Champs, 30k skate mass start: Tom
  • Keskinada, 53k skate mass start: Ed

So, at this point in the season, after a tight see-saw battle, it’s tied at 3-3!!! This only heightens the tension coming up to National Championships – or at least, heightens it for me. I think I care more about this thing than Ed does – but isn’t that normal, since I’m the older one, and I have to defend my older-ness?

Isn’t it just great inventing an award where you’re one of only two people who could possibly win? Check back here for regular McCarthy Cup updates…

Ed and Tom battling for the McCarthy Cup. Photo: Roger Ramonat
Interesting Reading. . .
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