Friday, 30 November 2007

More of a slog than a blog!


Hello there.

Having signed up a few people during the last couple of years to write blogs linked to my two websites (manxathletics.com and parishwalk.com) I thought I would try my own hand at it.

This blog is not intended to replace, compete with or in anyway interfere with the three blogs to be written by walkers who will tell their stories as they prepare for the big day. Depending on their experience they will either pass on tips to other walkers or call from help from the readers.

In fact it will be more of a slog through the years than a web log.

It is intended more to a) tell you what is going on (and is planned for) the www.parishwalk.com site and pass on a few tales from the 30 or more Parish Walks that I have been involved with it.

I was brought up in Kirk Michael following my elder brother Martin (Parish Walk winner in 1988) around the old Parish relay walk and watched the 1973 event from some of the pubs around the course.


I competed in six of the following seven years.

In 1974, as a 17 year old (I forged my date of birth!), I retired at Kirk Michael. The following year I retired at Bride whilst leading. In 1976 I finished in second place behind John Cannell as a 19 year old but I missed 1977 due to university exams. I won in 1978 aged 21 (see picture at top and note the lack of spectators) but made a hash of it in 1979 when I tried to beat Derek Harrison in his record breaking year and retired before Maughold. I whizzed around the southern parishes as a training spin in 1980 before moving onto other things.

After I stopped entering the Parish Walk, the late secretary Arthur Jones involved me with the "sweeping up" role for a few years when we would follow at the rear of the field and tell the checkers how many walkers were left on the road. We started off with a big board on which we would tick everyone off and even when Rose and Doug Drown provided the first computerised results it involved me finding a public telephone box to call them with the times of all the retirements from each church.

In the early 80s I started updating a list of all the Parish Walk finishers (Kevin Madigan had done the first one for the 1979 programme) but before word processors and spreadsheets it involved retyping the list each year! When I did get the list onto a computer (I bought my first one pretty early in 1987) I decided to expand the records to include not just the finishers but the distances and times of all the other performances. Each name and time was typed in from cuttings in my scrap books or visits to the museum. Unfortunately, I was never able to locate the performances of the non finishers prior to 1974.

In 1990 I was asked by the Boundary Harriers committee (I had by then been treasurer for 10 years) to find a new sponsor for the Parish Walk and this was when Clerical Medical were introduced. They were signed up for 5 years but I didn't expect them to be still here after 19! I also brought Skanco to the fold who provided a new form of computerised results. I had plans to make the event a lot bigger and dreamt that numbers might eventually reach 500!

I have to say I made myself unpopular in some quarters with some of the changes I introduced and the fact that (to ensure we delivered what we had promised to the sponsors) I did most of the work myself. For the first time we stuck rigidly to the closing date and mailed every walker an entrant's pack the day after entries closed and every walker received a results pack at the presentation on the night of the event or, if they weren't there, in the post the next morning.


I didn't cause the death of the event as my critics had suggested but I did decide, for a number of political reasons, to stand down the following year from my roles on the Sports Council and the IOM Athletics Association. I remained a great fan of the sport and continued to lend a hand at events such as the Parish Walk on marshalling duties.

Although I had a great many other things going on in my life, the break from committee work allowed me to develop a number of databases of athletic events and after building my first website in 1999 ( http://www.murrayandmarie.com/ ) I merged my new skills with my passion for statistics and launched http://www.manxathletics.com/ in 2000 and http://www.parishwalk.com/ the year after.

The latter site could easily have taken over my life as I originally tried to cover every single Manx event and also write a daily news page. Although I took a sabatical from the site during much of 2004, I have gradually increased my input there again in parallel with a committment to the http://www.parishwalk.com/ site.

My interest in photography has grown and I used the sites to publish literally thousands of photos often while the events were still going on. More recently I have added videos whilst continuing to provide a forum and some special features. Each of the Island's five clubs now have websites (go to www.manxathletics.com for the links) and more recently I have been grateful to a number of blog writers who have added so much to my site, in addition to the photograghers and many individuals who have helped me with the site.

The coverage of the Parish Walk on the website has grown and grown and I hope you like the new version for 2008. I have lots of things to tell you about!

The current organisation of the Parish Walk is absolutely brilliant and I hope to also provide an insight to the work that the organising committee perform. For starters, watch the video of race director Raymond Cox.

The decision to introduce electronic timing last year was bold but outstandingly successful. It gave me the chance to reduce my own website input but instead, as the number of people visiting the site to follow the links to the Manx Telecom sponsored results service grew, it encouraged me to try new things such as publishing photos from around the course instead of driving back to Douglas. This was only partially successful but I have plans to do better this year.

I hope to find time to tell you about some of the athletes that I really admire in the Parish Walk. And give you photos, videos, times and news about them...and you!

I hope that you are still awake and that you pop back here from time to time.

Murray


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