Thursday, 28 February 2008

Now here is a statistic you've never had before - 9 hours 41 minutes 2 seconds

One of the frustrating things about compiling statistics is that as soon as you release them someone asks you another question that you can't answer.

I'm not sure if I have been over this bit before in public, but I first started compiling my Parish Walk statistics on a typewriter in the early 1980s.

The late Kevin Madigan produced a list of all finishers by year as part of the 1979 Parish Walk programme. I typed them out in fastest time order.

The following year I would start typing all over again - but the list would be a bit longer!

I don't think that many young people are likely to be reading here but yes, believe it or not, there was a time when we didn't have word processors.

When I bought my first computer in 1987, I could at least store the data.

But then people would ask me how far around the course someone had gone or how many times someone had started the walk.

I also used to hear people in the pub claim that they "had done the Parish Walk" when they were not on the list. So I decided to research a list of all walkers who had started the walk. I recorded their finishing point and time. Many of the times were typed into the database copied from my press cuttings whilst I had to visit the musuem for others. The quality of the input depended upon the quality of the typesettings and my own typing. Names were spelt differently in different years and I am still ironing a few bugs out.

Unfortunately I was never able to locate the times (other than finishers) before 1974. Arthur Jones had taken the very practical view that the old result sheets were history and not required anymore. The newspapers only published the finishers names (we don't realise how lucky we are now).

So the lists got bigger and bigger and eventually, in December 2000, I published them on the internet.

But still couldn't provide enough statistics for some people. "Do you know what time I went through Jurby in three years ago? You know the year I finished at Andreas" would be the typical question.

Thanks to the brilliance of the organising committee, the sponsorship of Manx Telecom and the quality of the service provided by SportIdent, the electronic timing provides masses of new statistics.

So for once I am going to give you a couple of new statistics BEFORE you ask for them:

Last year's walkers were on their feet for a total of 10,913 hours 46 minutes and 53 seconds - that is an average of 9 hours 41 minutes and 2 seconds.

Were you going to ask that one?

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