Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Drive not walk?

For some years, the organisers of the Parish Walk have been trying to discourage walkers from having support vehicles all the way around the course.

Not everyone does - thankfully. The roads might be busy enough already but just imagine if every single walker had just one car following them. With 1500 or so walkers expected in June this year the cars would be following the walkers from a big distance and the roads would be unpassable.

More and more feeding stations have been provided in recent years and those walkers who manage 20 miles on their own in training should not really need any help until at least the climb up the Sloc.

If you do want to watch the walk, you can at least be sensible by using back roads to access the course without driving along it (and without racing around those same back roads creating extra hazards).

With the use of Manx Telecom's texting service you should also be able to pinpoint the location of your walker without driving up and down the course.

The opposite problem occurs in the later stages of the walk. You really do need someone to be available to help you later on. In fact, the rules require you to have an attendent after Peel.

If there were more helpers available then maybe eventually this requirement could be put back to a point later than Peel but here are the two reasons I can see why walkers have to have attendants.


The gap between the first and last walker gets bigger the further you progress around the course. Whereas in the early stages the feeding stations need only be open for an hour or two, by the time you reach Laxey the gap would be up to 8 hours. Providing feed stations every three miles would be nigh on impossible.

The requirements are also very different from a marathon where standard drinks are taken from tables. With up to 24 hours of walking, competitors need food and often a change of clothes or footware. Some walkers have a whole car load of supplies.


You need someone to take you home if you drop out. Its all very well thinking that if you have no one with you will be forced to cover the whole distance but this is a reckless approach. In the early 90s I had to (on two occasions) leave the job I was supposed to be doing to take walkers back to Douglas who, without help, would have ended up in hospital. On one of these occasions, Maughold Church was without a checker as a result.

So where does this leave the visitors that we are trying to attract to the Isle of Man to share the Parish Walk with us?

Inevitably there will be people who will not be able to take part unless a local person offers to provide a support role.

So roll your sleeves up and be prepared to lend a hand.

One such person approached race secretary Elizabeth Corran recently to ask for help.

Robert Bucknall from Stockport will not be travelling to the Isle of Man unless someone can help him. Could it be you? Email him on if you can help.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

It used to be the best walking event in the British Isles

Most of the people reading this blog will surely believe that the Parish Walk is the best walking event in the British Isles. Apart from exceptional international events, I do too. But I didn't used to.

I used to think that the best event was the Bradford 50km, or "the Bradford" as it was always known. In the days before the London Marathon, which attracts seven figure crowds, the Bradford probably attracted the biggest crowds of any road race in Britain. Yet there was never a massive field. Usually the crowds gathered outside the pubs along the 31 mile route on a Spring Bank Holiday Monday to see just fifty or sixty hardy souls.

I took part in five Bradford Walks between 1978 and 1982 and was very proud to win three of them from 1980 onwards. In 2004 I spent some time writing my recollections of those five years and the article can be found here.

The reason I am writing about the Bradford Walk this week is because on Saturday I flew to Leeds/Bradford airport for the first time and returned to the Island from the same airport on Monday morning, staying the previous night at the Travel Lodge next to the airport.

The Bradford course goes past the airport near Yeadon and is at one of the highest points on the course. As soon as I drove away from the airport on Saturday I recognised the course that I had not visited for 24 years (I had been to Ottley in 1984) and could not believe how steep the hills were. On Sunday evening I diverted into Ottley to refuel and then drove to the airport. If Pool Bank had seemed like a big hill when I walked it then it was more like a mountain now. What an incredible course it was.

I walked around those roads in 4.26 in 1981 when I was supposed to be holding back (and had a dose of what Steve Partington and Michael George do best!) and yet I was only to walk 4.20 on a flat course.

Although I never did my justice elsewhere, I am so glad that I did spend those years plodding around the Yorkshire countryside and became known as "that lad from Isle of Man".

Just how the Bradford Walk, now more than 100 years, has continued to exist with small entries on what are now such busy roads I don't know. What I do know is that, for me, it was the best walking event in the British Isles.

Things and times change.

In 1978, although I won the Parish Walk as a 21 year old, in between walking the Plymouth to Dawlish 42 miles and my first Bradford in a mad four weeks I made up my mind to train. The training took me to many places around Britain and Europe but the Bradford was my favourite.

Since that time many of the other walks have gone or in the case of the Bradford is only a shadow of its former self.

Meanwhile, there is one event that is 10 times bigger than in 1978.

It didn't use to be the best walking event in the British Isles - but it is now.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Parish Walk entries open on 31 January

That was last year's headline!

This year they opened two months earlier than ever before and at the time of writing we are up to 130. Keep nagging your friends if their names are not on the list.

I had another marathon session creating videos of old races last night and one of the people featured in the 1997 Manx Airlines 20km walk was Kevin Walmsley who is the course director of the Parish Walk.

Kevin is another member of the Parish Walk committee who puts in many hours of effort over the course of the year (no pun intended) to ensure that you can enjoy the event for just 24 hours. He must make sure that all the road signs are up, road closures enforced etc.

He set a personal best in 1997, although he was still disappointed with his time of 1.33.09. Here are two short interviews with him, one by Steve Partington and the other by the late Geoff Cannell.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Oh crumbs, the women are catching up

Over my lunchtime sandwich (and I've got the crumbs on my keyboard to prove it) I have just compared the latest list of 122 entries with the 101 that I listed earlier on the blog.

The 21 new names are:

Joan Bradley
Tracy Brennan
John Byrne
Pauline Clague
Ian Comish
Kirsty Cregeen
Georgia Crellin
Di Cummins
Gary Devaney
Bernadette Devlin
Lynton Hoch
Mo Horisk
Jade Maddrell
Tracy Maddrell
Angela Martin
Charlene McGarry
Sheron Quayle
Glenn Saunders
Ian Scott
Russell Smith
Karen Thomson

I noticed that two thirds of the new entrants were women so that gave me more food for thought (the orange and banana have gone now too).

What sex are the entrants? (The use of the word sex is bound to bring a few new readers to the blog when they search Google!).

Well we have 70 men and 52 women so far.

So there is a challenge to the women. See if you can encourage your friends to enter and get ahead of the men. I'm hungry for more statistics.

I hope that you can digest them well.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

New feature on YouTube

The link above will take you to a playlist at with all of the Parish Walk videos available in one place.


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Friday, 18 January 2008

More old videos added

My major exercise of converting all my old video to digital format (it includes lots of other film besides athletics so please be patient) is continuing well and yesterday I managed to publish five new YouTube videos on the site.

Two of them are from the Parish Walk and you can now go directly to the page to view the starts of the 1997 and 1998 Parish Walks.

A good day yesterday with six more online entries. There were 107 when I checked just a couple of minutes ago (8 am). Something for the weekend perhaps?

Thursday, 17 January 2008

The first 100 entries ....and 1

I had hoped to capture the first 100 online entries for the 2008 Clerical Medical Parish Walk but after tracking the number through the 90s I missed the 100th one.

So, here for the record are the first 101....
Jasmine Abrey
Sue Ackroyd
Christopher Adaway
Steve Allen
Rob Aspinall
Fred Baker
Anthony Ball
Bernie Ball
Helen Ballinger-Wood
Adrian Beale
Martijn Biesmans
Michael Bonney
Robbie Breadner
Andrew Bridson
Robin Cain
Sharon Cain
Chris Cale
Selwyn Callister
David Cannell
Dave Capelen
Christine Carter
Roger Hammond Cave
Eleanor Chapman
Bethany Clague
Sally Clancey
Kath Colquitt
Sharon Constancon
Prudence Cook
Mark Corkish
Bob Corrin
Tony Couperwoods
Jane Cregeen
Peter Crellin
Jonathan Crossley
Martyn Cull
Natasha Cushing
Neil Cushing
Mike Cutsforth
Michelle Draper
Tony Dugdale
Emma Edge
David Gawne
Adrian Gell
Richard Gerrard
Claire Goodby
Angela Goody
Keith Green
Dagmar Griesinger
Edward Howard
Eleanor Humphreys
Alan Johnston
Arran Kaighin
Lee Kelly
Terry Kelly
Adam Killip
Willie Kinvig
Rob Kneen
Steven Leach
Gill Lunt
Jane Lyall
Jean Lynch
Dave Mackey
Amy Maguire
Joanne Masterson
Alan McCulloch
Colin Stephen Moore
Trish Moore
Lisa Motley
Gillian Munro
Tony Okell
Robert Peck
Kathryn Prince
Gavin Quiggin
Terri Salmon
Nick Saunders
Edwin Shaw
Andrew Skelly
Cath Smith
Terry Smith
Charlie Stephens
John Stevens
Mark Stewart
Neil Stoutt
Sue Strang
Ian Strodder
Chris Swales
Trudi Telling
Nigel Thomas
Russ Thomas
Nerene Vorster
Jock Waddington
Ian Wakley
Douglas Waller
Karen Warburton
Carl Watson
Lisa Whear
Mark Whear
Alex Wijsman
Richard Wild
Pattie Williams
Lucy Woolnough

I'm expecting around 1500 entries so that means there are around 1400 more of you to reach your for plastic.

Actually, its slightly less than that as a few people are still choosing the conventional entry system. There will be delays in listing the other entries (one of the main reasons for moving to online entries) as there is more work to do banking cheques and inputting to the computer from the printed entry form.

Go on! Enter online today.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Karen Kneale, an unsung hero of the Parish Walk (and as an athlete)

I was going to write about another member of the Parish Walk organising committee yesterday (a big brother story) but before I found the time I stumbled upon some video of Karen Kneale when I was working on a rather large project of converting all my old videos into digital format.

Karen has been one of the unsung heros of the Parish Walk for years. Prior to the introduction of online entries last year (and the much more successful version this year) she had the tedious task of entering every entrant's name, address and contact details into the database of the computer. She did so with amazing accuracy to a high stndard that I have never witnessed by any other sporting administrator.

Then on the race day itself, along with Martin Lambden, she had to enter all of the times into the results program- this task would leave anyone else with a splitting headache for weeks.

Karen has rarely featured in the publicity surrounding the Parish Walk although she does usually appear on stage at the Prize Presentation.

Even when I went to Ray Cox's house last year to take photos of the organising commitee, Karen escaped my camera as it was one of the few meetings she was unable to attend.

Although the task of producing the results is largely automated now there is still a lot for Karen to do. Maybe I'll manage to interview her for the website before the event so that she can tell you about her role.

But for the time being, you can see a whole three seconds of Karen walking in 1996. That was the year she set a time for 10km on the road of 49.37 at St Johns. The previous year she recorded 51.03 on the track at Leicester.

She competed in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia finishing 10th in the blazing heat in 52.25. With Cal Partington walking even faster at the time (PB of 46.26 and 48.09 in the 1998 Commonwealth Games), it makes you realise how high standards were in that era.

I never was a fan of big brother so that story will have to wait.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Geoff Cannell at the Parish Walk

Geoff Cannell (tinted glasses and light blue and white t-shirt) dining with some of the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games team in Victoria, Canada in 1994 (photo by the waiter).
Some of the people who learnt about the Parish Walk from off the Isle of Man did so as a result of the coverage of Sky TV. The commentary in 2006 and 2007 was by Geoff Cannell who sadly passed away in September 2007. Although the news was covered on the site, one of those off island Parish Walk fans, Mike Peters, who regularly visits the site made me aware that he had only just learnt about Geoff's death.
If you wish to read the obituaries that appeared at the aforementioned site follow this link:

Geoff Cannell reporting on the 2006 Clerical Medical Parish Walk (photo by Mike Lambden)

I've just had a quick look back through my old emails to see whether I had any interesting "Geoff stories". Nothing startling except when he contacted me after the 2006 event he asked if he could have the leading 10 times at each of the churches. I explained that it was difficult because they were not all recorded electronically. I added: "Hopefully it won’t be too many years before they get electronic timing and you’ll have it all at your finger tips." One year later we were there thanks to the Parish Walk committee who made such a big decision.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

No music on Parish Walk videos

Happy new year.

I intended to write on the blog on New Year's day but I ended up spending far more time than I had intended filming and editing the New Year's Day Fell Race at St Johns. (I also started writing it yesterday but failed to complete it)

There were around 15 Parish Walk finishers in the record field of 70 at St Johns. Its one of the success stories of Manx Athletics that the fell race has reached such heights.

For many years there was a handicap cross country race on New Years Day at Nobles Park. Before the start of the Douglas Fireman's races (later also the Ramsey Firemans, Peel Commissioners, Ramsey Park Runs and Southern 10km) it was quite a novelty to enter a handicap race. In the late 70s, the fun element increased further when the New Years Day race became a fancy dress event and when it moved to a road race from the then Manx AC headquarters in Drinkwater Street, it became little more than a pub crawl.

The return of serious running on New Years Day came in the late 80s when the Manx Fell Runners promoted the Carraghan Fell Race. They realised that not everyone's lives evolved around alcohol and that even some that did were glad to have a reason to shake off their hangover. The fields were quite encouraging.

It was around 1993 or so (if Ian Callister is reading this he may correct me) that the dates of the Carraghan and St Johns Fell Races were swapped and the New Year's Day event has got bigger nearly every year.

Not only was there a big field this year but there was a high quality of runner. Manx born Lloyd Taggart smashed the record as did his partner Jackie Lee.

The event was even featured on the BBC website at

As I mentioned, there were lots of Parish Walk finishers in the event and this clip features Stan Sille crossing the river.

You may notice some idiot standing in the river with a video camera. Well that is me ensuring that I had two camera angles of runners crossing the river, the other being my trusty 1995 Sharp on a tripod in a fixed position.

Making videos of races is something I had considered doing but only really started last March and I already have 54 films on my channel with over 19,000 video views already. It is far more time consuming that publishing photos (although probably still easier than researching old race results). It is very demanding on the computer resources and after the recent Glen Lough cross country I vowed to give them up. I had spent over two hours sorting the clips and editing ready to publish a film when the new package that I was using crashed and I lost all of my work. It took me almost as long to republish.

After spending hours on these films most are viewed around 200 times before slipping into the archives. Compare this with the most popular video on my channel with almost 2500 hits so far. I went to take photos of the Parish Walk at Braddan and my wife Marie went with me. As the walkers climbed through the estate from the TT access road and thrust one of my digital cameras (not even a proper video camera) into her hand and said "press that". The 59 second clip (the most that can be taken on that camera) was published within half an hour of the action and the rawness is a feature. "What do I do when I want to turn it off" is the first thing you hear and the lack of an answer from me is because I am aware that the microphone is on!

So there is no point in trying to be fancy with my Parish Walk videos. This year I hope to be publishing remotely from the back of the van so I shall just put a few basic clips on - no editing and no new music.

Nigel Armstrong was given similar lack of warning that he was required to film on New Year's Day. A couple of minutes before the runners were due to descend I thrust my SLR camera into his hand with the instruction "just keep pressing that button". His photo is the first to be published on the BBC site!

Despite these novices achieving the most success I am busy charging up the batteries for five cameras to take with me to the Lancashire Cross Country Championships tomorrow. But it will probably be the person I lend one of them to take some pictures who will get the best results.

Photos at on Saturday evening. Videos sometime on Sunday...and there will be music whether you want it or not!