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.

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