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.

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