Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Don't panic if you have entered with a paper form

A few minutes ago, I started my lastest analysis of the entry list and there were 570 names.

A couple of minutes later and it was up to 572.

The reason is that Karen Kneale, one of the Parish Walk organising committee, has probably just started to input many of the paper entries. She is set for a long day and she has around 300 to type in all of the personal details.

So if you have entered in the past couple of weeks using the old system, think of Karen this afternoon and this evening and don't panic if your name is not on the old list yet.

The new system is really so much more efficient as the names go straight into the database, you don't have to write out a cheque and race secretary Elizabeth Corran does not have to open the post, sort the forms, bank the cheques and deal with so many queries.

Poor Karen has a young family and cannot update the database at a time to suit you!

This is only my thought and not official, but if the organisers were to switch to a 100% online entry system it would take away some of the need to close the entries quite so early. The majority of people leave the entries until the last minute which means that the workload cannot be spread out.

Anyway here are the extra 12 names up to 570:

Alison Corlett
Carol Kelly
Charlotte Copparelli
Clive Alford
Jackie Smith
Jill Ryan
Jon Allen
Julia Skillicorn
Kathleen Corkish
Matthew Lewis
Michelle Mitchell
Sam Corkill

In the time it has taken me to type this, the number has increased to 578. Thanks Karen!

231 view website but only 8 more enter walk

There was a big increase in the number of people viewing the website yesterday.

There were 605 page loads from 231 different people.

But there were only another 8 entries online since yesterday lunchtime.

They were from:

Denise Peters
Ellen Livesey
James Hogg
Laura Bromley
Melony Corrin
Pauline King
Philip Crellin
Tim Magee

There are now 558 entries from 284 women and 274 men.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Women stride out

There are now 550 names on the list - 278 women and 272 men.

The three new women and one new man are:

Freda Rimmer
Leila Dobbie
Ned Bowers
Stella Corlett

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sex change

10 more entries since I analysed yesterday evening. Six women and four women that should put the female entries two ahead of the males. But when I run the test for those with either an "M" or a "W" in the category, I find 275 women and 271 men. So either my stats are wrong or one person has had a sex change (remember that changing one has a double effect because one number goes up 1 and the other down 1!). I'll leave you to guess what it is and to see if anyone else changes sex in my lists tomorrow.

Here are the 10 new names:

Anthony Beagan
Claire Hamer
Colm Andrew
Gillian Manley
Kevin Costain
Lucy McDowell
Martina Lynch
Rebecca McDowell
Steve O'Hare
Wendy Fallon

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Only one entry

I really thought that there would have been a flood of entries today - but there has only been one!

So I'm not going to bother to do another check to see who it is until there are a few more.


Still together

2 entries since 11 o'clock last night - a man and a woman.

David Bell
Trish Cain

536 in total.

Another check tonight.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Neck and Neck

Another 11 entries on this list since 1'olock today and with 8 men and 3 women the numbers are now equal - 267 men and 267 women.

Here are the names of the new additions:

Alan Teare
Ashley Hanlon
Carl Senogles
Craig Hardie
Darren Mealin
Hilary Borthwick
Huw Warrington
Julie Desmarchelier
Laura Gardner
Leon Steed
Maurice Bellando

If you arer reading this and have not entered, but intend to, get plastic out now!

Women increase their lead

Since this time yesterday, a further 11 names have appeared on the official list - 7 women and 4 men.

So the 523 entries consist of 259 men and 264 women.

The new names are:

Breeshey Corrin
Breeshey Harkin
Claire Cooke
Eammon Harkin
Hannah Newton
Martin Crellin
Sheila Skillicorn
Simon Cox
Tara-Lee Whyte
Thomas Morfett
Wendy Easthope

Thursday, 24 April 2008

More women than men

The last time I analysed the entries, there were 266 on the list. There are now 512 (or at least there were an hour ago; the person who has entered in the last hour won't be included in this analysis!) so there another 246 names to account for.

The amazing thing is, that for the first time ever in the history of the Parish Walk, there are more women than men in the entry list, although I see one lady has entered twice so maybe this is a Mugabe style poll! 257 women have entered and only 255 men.

Remember that this analysis is unofficial and that there will be a delay before people who enter manually appear on the list - all the more reason to enter online. Actually I think the 246 include many who were previously on the manual list but its too late to rework this.

Here are the 246 new names. I'll try and keep the analysis up to date from now on:

Aalish Bennett
Abbie Leece
Adam Russell
Alan Cooper
Alan Pilling
Alastair Gillespie
Alison Crompton
Alison McCarthy
Andrea Castle
Andrew Hartley
Andrew Moore
Andrew Shephard
Andrew Starkey
Andrew Titley
Andy Finch
Angela Bray
Ann Parry
Anna Teare
Anneka Rae
Annette Heath
Annie Harling
Ben Constable
Ben Walshaw
Beth Thomas
Bethan Saxon
Beverley Broderick
Breeshey Craine
Brian Caine
Brian Cowley
Brian Leece
Brian Sinden
Bronwen Udy
Candy Dias
Carl Wilson
Carole Staples
Catherine Close
Catherine Close
Catherine Kennedy
Catherine Sayle
Catriona Farrant
Cecilia McCallum
Cedric Quayle
Chris Moon
Claire Stanton
Colette Skillen
Colin Clark
Colin Cowley
Craig Riley
Daniel Evans
Darren Taylor
Darrin Oldam
Dave Mason
Dave Meban
David Griffiths
David Griffiths
Dawn Gell
Debbie Rogers
Don McCulloch
Douglas Jacobsson
Ed Walter
Edwina Harrocks
Elena Snidal
Ellen McGirr
Emma Jayne Keig
Fenella Carter
Fran Ball
Gary Merrill
Gary Thomas
Gaye Miller
Gedeon Roberts
Gemma Sharp
Geoff Cowle
Geoff Sharpe
Geoffrey Doggrell
Geraldine St.Ruth
Gillian Cunningham
Glenn Weir
Glyn Evans
Graeham Quilliam
Hannah King
Harry Pugh
Hayley Rigg
Hayley Sayle
Heather Craig
Helen Flanders
Ian Allan Dunbar
Ian Corlett
Illona Leadley
Isobel Gough
Jackie Horne
Jacqueline Kelly
James Clague
Jamie Brown
Jamie Christian
Jane Birchall
Jane Leonard
Jane Ryder
Janette Gledhill
Jason Davies
Jemma Irene Armitage
Jennifer Cannell
Jenny Coates
Jenny Dias
Jill Bennett
Jill Gillings
Jim Davidson
Jo Bridson
Jo Sykes
Joanna Teare
Joanne Ciappelli
Joanne Coole
John C Ryder
John Gunnion
John Watterson
Jon Mercer
Jonathan Hewson
Jonathan Pugh
Juan Readshaw
Jude Angell
Julie Cannon
Julie Cretney
Julie Crossley
Julie Hill
Julie Jackson
Julie Owen
Justine France
Kara Kneale
Karen Lawrie
Karen Sharpe
Karen Smirthwaite
Kath Kelly
Kathleen McGhee
Kathryn Walker
Katie Wilkinson
Kelly Haynes
Ken Harding
Ken Mitchell
Kerryann Cassidy
Kerstin Dighton
Kevin Shimmin
Kim Duncan
Kirsty Weir
Laura Clarkson
Leanne McGarvey
Lee Breadner
Lindsay Grant
Liz Chandler
Louise Cain
Louise Hollings
Lynne Quayle
Marie Jackson
Mark Fensome
Mark Hempsall
Mark Saunders
Martin Rigg
Maryja Judkowska
Matt Moffatt
Maureen Kelly
Maureen Moffatt
Melanie Curwen
Melanie Moores
Michael Farnworth
Michell Husemann
Mick Rafferty
Mike Berry
Mike Radcliffe
Natasha Richards
Neil Booth
Neil Brew
Neil Helmer
Nicola Callow
Nicola Davies
Nicola Horisk
Nikki Salmon
Oliver Webster
Orna Lynch
Pamela Scott
Patrcia Sweeney
Patrick Hartley
Paul Cannan
Paul Malone
Paul Mckinstry
Paul Slinger
Paul Sykes
Pauline Ringham
Penny Craighill
Peta Warren
Peter Callow
Peter Lewis
Peter Russell
Peter Storry
Phil Marshall
Rachael Tewkesbury
Rachel Turner
Rachel Udy
Ralph Pawling
Ray Johnstone
Raymon Philip Myles
Regina Ripamonti
Remo Ricciardi
Richard Creamore
Robbie Callister
Robbie Stockton
Robert Corrin
Robert Mylchreest
Robert Udy
Rod Kaye
Rowena Finch
Sally Bettridge
Samantha Cubbon
Sandra Halpin
Sandra Kaighin
Sandra Wrigley
Sarah Clayton
Sarah Cripps
Sarah Johnson
Sarah Thornhill
Sean Hands
Sheila Davies
Simon Starkey
Sinead Venus
Sonya Mercer
Stephanie Kelly
Stephen O'Hare
Steve Curtis
Steve Willmott
Stuart Fenton
Sue Ferns
Tania Saunders-De-Pons
Tara Slinger
Terrence Lundin
Tim White
Timothy Laycock
Tom Wilson
Tracey Chambers
Trevor Nixon
Veronica Dimelow
Vicki Craighill
Vicki Rawlinson
William Alexander
William Godley
William Meban
Yedhu Jagannathan
Yue Kendall
Zoe Lace
Zoe Williams

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Never mind the forum how about your entry

I got a little silly first thing this morning when I saw that there were still less than 500 entries for the Clerical Medical Parish Walk. I've been predicting 1,500 but at the very least there must be another 700 to come in.

The standard entry fee will cease to be available in 10 days time. But bear in mind that you have already had 144 days to set aside a couple of minutes to enter online.

My silliness amounted to declaring 3 May as the National Idiots Day (see www.manxathletics.com) as that it is the day when so many people run the risk of missing the deadline for standard fee entries.

Yes, there are some people who have delayed their entry because they are not reasonably certain that they will be able to take part. But there are far more who are just inconsiderate as it is difficult for the organisers to plan if they don't get a feel for the numbers.

OK, its less important than in the past now that we have online entries than when Elizabeth Corran used to receive a deluge of entries in the final few days but it is still unnecessary to leave things to the last minute.

Every year Elizabeth has had to spend 90% of her time with 10% of the entries - or rather entries and late entries.

Make no mistake about it, unless you enter on time you will not be taking part in the Parish Walk.

And if I had my way I would ban anyone who lied about the date they posted their entry form.

I don't mean to offend those people who have good reason for delaying their entry but I make no apology for offending those that have been training for six months but can't spare those vital two minutes.

I don't know if my message has reached a few people as there have already been 5 entries today.

I'll try and analyse the entries a bit more later this week.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Don't forget the forum

As frequently stated, I started the http://www.manxathletics.com/ site in 2000 and it wasn't long before I tried to establish a forum.

With fewer users on the site and perhaps because people were a bit shy, in the early days I often resorted to starting debates by posting something controversial - my suggestion that veteran athletics should only start at 60 because most events were being won by over 40s certainly did the trick!

The forum has been in its present form (hosted by http://www.bravenet.com/ ) for about five years and the vast majority of the visitors to the main site also appear to check out the forum on a regular basis.

So if you need some help with your training, with your aches and pains or your race tactics, don't be afraid to ask the expects for help.

A good example of the response you can expect was a recent request for help from a walker suffering an injury. Loads of people, including several professionals, came to his/her help.

The only problem is that the walker did not provide their name and email address as required by the forum rules.

This usually means that the post would be deleted but occasionally I have let such entries go. But the rule is still there - its just not being enforced on this occasion. That is a theme I shall return to on another day.

To access the forum use this link:


Thursday, 17 April 2008

3 hours thinking about Dermot O'Toole

Dermot O'Toole - "I never say never again."

Three years ago I spent many an evening sharing stories with Dermot O'Toole as he compiled his wonderful book about the Parish Walk. If you have not yet purchased a copy of "A Walk Through Time" you are missing out - get one now!

He delved into my statistics, my attic collection of all things Parish Walk and my memory.

At 51, my memory is already much better recalling things that happened a long time ago than events from recent years (ask my friends in London about that) but the one story I remember from our hours of ramblings was that Dermot said that he had given up saying "Never again" after a Parish Walk as he knew he would rescind the threat.

He has now completed the Parish Walk 13 times and he used to say ever year that it would be his last.

Sunday was the 9th time that I had run in the London Marathon and I had a good cross section of times in the previous 8. On watch times I had 3 sub 2.45 performances (one was officially a few seconds over in the days before the chips), two carefully managed sub 3 hour runs and 3 really badly run races when I ran far too fast for my level of fitness and ended up struggling (and walking) parts of the final few miles.

But in all 8 of the previous runs I had thoroughly enjoyed the first 15 miles even if the final stages were to go pear shaped. I always took time to enjoy the atmosphere, slap the hands of the kids holdings them out at the side of the road, share a joke and a chat with other runners.

I missed out completely on Sunday. I ran the first four miles at a pace that I was well accustomed to in training runs of up to 20 miles and yet by 5.5 miles I felt awful. I'm not committing myself in public to the reasons for my problems until I have distinguished between cause and effect, chicken and egg.

For a time I was certain I would not finish and kept thinking about where I would drop out and how I would keep warm getting back to the finish.

It was at an early stage that I made two decisions. For the sake of those that expected it of me, I had to keep going even if it took me all day. The second was that this would be my last marathon - EVER.

Through the increasing pain (Tower Bridge was just a trap full of noise that I wanted to escape from rather than the normal highlight of the run) I couldn't get away from Dermot's words.

Deep down I knew that telling myself that this would be my last marathon was just a mechanism for reaching the end. It wasn't something I really meant.

And from the moment I crossed the line my thoughts were not about avoiding the marathon but on gaining revenge.

Its a tactic that you should consider for the Parish Walk. But if you have prepared yourself well (much better than me), you won't need such a tactic.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Self appointed PR

Half an hour before the start of the Flora London with Nigel Armstrong. I had the luxury of a start in the AAA championships but they have still not got wireless access in the warm up tent!

I warned you 12 days ago that I would struggle to update the blog over the following 10 days but I actually managed three postings, including one from London. But it has taken an extra 2 days to get back into anything like a routine.

Once I was established on my Laptop in my hotel room I thought about adding several more stories especially as, although I finally had the chance to catch up with my sleep, I woke up early each day through nerves.

Whilst in London I continued my self appointed PR role for the Manx runners in the Marathon.

I hope that you liked the preview in the paper - I tried to avoid just re-listing all the names that were at the foot of the article but to explain the history of the event and how people manage to get repeat entries.

I understand that Manx Radio previewed the event on the Friday but I tried to get some extra publicity on Saturday morning.

I tried to feed a different line on Saturday when I was sending emails to Manx Radio studio and newsdesk (I'm not sure if they used them) about the number of couples that were taking part. I'm sorry that I did not cover them all to begin with mentioning the Halls, the Quines and the Cains when I emailed David Callister and then adding the Kellys for the newsroom. I still missed the Gannons. Quite remarkable to have so many family couples.

On Sunday morning I contacted Radio 2 and got a mention for the Manx runners at about 5.50 - not sure what the audience figures are at that time on a Sunday. Ian Callister was mentioned for his 20 runs although I was introduced as Murray Lambden from the Isle of Wight.

Within a hour of finishing my own race (I'll save that story for another day) I was back online working on some pictures and the first draft of the statistics. The London Marathon website is much improved and I was able to list all of the sub 5 hour runners before heading to the bar. Unfortunately when I returned to finish before going out to eat the site was down so I had to leave the job unfinished.

When I got back to the Island on Monday lunchtime I tried to finish the project but I ended up having to re-run the exercise yesterday lunchtime when I realised that some of the positions had changed.

I closed off the website project last night as planned but then I spent the rest of the evening writing the report for the Manx Independent. You can read it tomorrow afternoon if you are interested. As well as listing all the performances I have tried to give an insight into three featured runners. I know that one or two people will be disappointed because I have not featured their personal best or their fancy dress but if a story is going to be interesting it has to be selectively researched.

And to get my annual gripe off my chest - if anyone tells me that I have missed someone off the list - tough! The sort of people who complain weeks later that their names were not in the papers are obviously the ones who don't normally read them but only want to see their own names.

Thanks to everyone who helped me gather the names especially Steve Cain who really does know more than anyone on the Isle of Man!

Being the self appointed PR for the London Marathon means that I am already knackered when it comes to doing the Parish Walk publicity (although I did start on 1 December) but over the weeks ahead, as the Parish Walk fights for a bigger share of my time, the blog will be closer aligned to the big event on home soil.

Friday, 11 April 2008

I dreamt I wrote a London Marathon Preview

I continued my London Marathon preparation with five hours a night sleep last night. By the time I finished preparing the Marathon results spreadsheet the clock had slipped past one and I was up soon after six as usual.

But perhaps I have actually been sleeping more than I thought. I thought I had got up early on Tuesday morning to write a preview of the marathon but I see now that it was actually written by John Watterson. Oh well, at least I can stop blaming myself for the typo when I referred to the 2001 census instead of the 1981 version.

Our travelling went ultra smoothly today and Nigel Armstrong took the picture above of myself, Paul Curphey and Mike Garrett after we had registered at the Excel Centre.

The first person we met at the airport today was June Melvin who I only met for the first time on Wednesday when I did the Parish Walk feature.

This used to be the most relaxing two days of the year but now I have wireless access in my hotel (£15 per day for the pleasure) so I'm still playing around with this website lark.

But having also paid handsomely for my hotel room I will ensure that I get more than 5 hours sleep tonight. I've always felt the night before the night before a big event is the most important one.

I'll see if I can bring any more tales from London tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

I've been to Andreas

Photo from Andreas

Its only usually at the Parish Walk time that I get to drive to Andreas so it was a delightful drive from Ballasalla via Foxdale and Kirk Michael to meet Maureen Moffatt at her house tonight with her sister June Melvin and brother David "Lon" Chambers.

You only have to go as far as the http://www.parishwalk.com/ site or even the http://www.manxathletics.com/ site to see the purpose of my drive.

And it was also a lovely drive over the mountain to Douglas. When you get to drive on the quieter roads (or on the busy roads at quiet times) you realise just how the Isle of Man has changed. Not quite as quiet as Saturday afternoon, however, when I jogged along the TT course from the Bradywell Road junction to the Bungalow when the road was closed.

I chose my words carefully in the opening paragraph because although I rarely drive to Andreas I have run through there twice on two separate days this winter as part of my London Marathon training. The first day was on the occassion of the worst of my asthma problems which have curtailed my winter training. Too many of my long runs have seen me walking this winter but neverthless with a stack of 20+ plus runs under my belt I think I have enough to be nervous about with 3 days and 10 hours to go to the London.

I'm not bothering to run at all this week (I did two 12 mile steady runs at the weekend in addition to running around with camera in hand on Saturday) but the hours have gone quicker than ever with not many left for sleeping. Yesterday I started a London Marathon article for the newspaper at 5.45 am after five hours sleep and closed down my computer at 1.30 am there was less than five hours again last night.

As always, if you have emailed me you will eventually get a reply but I must concentrate on replying to holiday booking enquiries emails tonight if I am going to get more than five hours sleep again tonight.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

50 mile walking races

Well done to everyone who competed in the Sara Killey memorial races on Sunday.

I didn't see the race but it seemed to be pretty competitive at the front between Mark Hempsall and Jock Waddington and their time was 46 seconds faster than Steve Partington's time from last year. Very good going considering the horrible weather.

It was good to see the results available on the evening of the walk so it would appear to a good investment by the Fire Services to invest in the Manxtimingsolutions.com technology.

I have to admit that despite being a fan of long distance walking, particularly the Parish Walk, I get frightened of the road safety aspects of the events.

When I came into the sport in the mid 1970s there were two long distance walks of just over 50 miles. The big one was the London to Brighton, using the roads that were used for so many sporting challenges, and the other was the Manchester to Blackpool.

The Manchester to Blackpool was the only one that I ever did and that was in 1978 when I was based in Manchchester with BRS for 6 months (my work experience during a Business Studies degree) but I was working in Preston for six weeks. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit that (along with several other walkers) it was in Preston that I missed a turn and had to walk back a couple of hundred yards.

But events were so much more laid back in those days. There were virtually no marshals as we set off from the centre of Manchester and walked through Bolton town centre - can you imagine doing that now even with marshals?

Although it was low key event in those days (apart from the inevitable "stick" that you got from people on the course who only saw race walking once a year) its origins were high profile.

The winner of the walk received the News of the World Trophy and it was presented by the Mayor of Blackpool at a civic reception at the Winter Gardens. I'm not sure when the walk was first held (probably in the early part of the 20th century) but it was at a time when you were fortunate if you could afford a holiday in Blackpool. If you did, it was a long journey on the train. So the thought of tough guys actually walking the whole way at the start of the Wakes Week must have created a lot of media interest. I believe that it would have been back page national news in the sponsor's paper and that thousands would have welcomed the walkers in Blackpool.

The event was the last of the big open road walks to go (in the last 10 years I think) to be replaced by a 50 mile walk around a park in Blackpool.

The London to Brighton went earlier despite a move to country roads. I don't think it ever recovered from the event that I (and many others) dread - a fatal accident involving a competitor.

For many years the walking season would start in November with 7 mile races (especially in the South of England). The National 10 miles were held in March and they would be preceded by area and county championships (the 10 miles incorporated the the inter counties champs).

April and May would see the same round of events for 20km and June would be the 20 miles at area and national level (replaced by 30km and 35km races later).

The distances would be extended again in July for the National 50km. the fields would get smaller as the distances got longer. The walkers would race frequently and the nationals would also be broken by the Leicester Mercury 20 Miles and the Bradford 50km on May Bank Holiday weekend and the aforesaid Manchester to Blackpool in June.

After the Nationals, many a walker's family would be taken for their holiday to somewhere like Hastings (38 miles Hastings to Brighton walk early August), Isle of Man (TT course walk in late August) or to London for the London to Brighton on the first Saturday in September.

The 100 mile walk would be held at the end of July (I think) and old fashioned courses such as the Leicester to Skegness were used every other year. London to Brighton and back had been used in the really old days. Nowadays, of course, these sort of courses are all on traffic free (or virtually traffic free) courses.

It was only in 1980 that a 100km walk was introduced and this moved long distance walking towards shorter multi lap courses. If I told you that they were held on the M42 you might not believe that walking was safer in those days! I walked on that motorway on the second year and live to tell the tale. The motorway development ran out of funds and parts of it were left unused for several years before the funds were found to finish it - lovely surface with no camber!

To conclude, however, having seen the way walking has moved off roads in the UK (also fewer walkers - chicken or egg?) I really do question whether it is realistic to increase the number of long road races in the Isle of Man from two back up to the three that there used to be. They are all extremely dangerous however well marshalled they are.

Despite these reservations I have nothing but admiration for those who completed the course (or even parts of it) and the reports I have heard are of a very well organised event.

Friday, 4 April 2008

The next 10 days

It seems unlikely that I will be able to provide any coverage of the Sarah Killey Memorial walk this weekend.

You can read Michael George's preview of the event at http://michaelsparishblog.blogspot.com/

The walk was first held last year when I was running in the heat of the London Marathon and the walkers were frozen in the mist of the Isle of Man! The date clash has been avoided this year but I'm afraid that it is just one event too many to find time to commit to.

Good luck to all taking part and please take extra care with road safety, drivers as well as walkers.

My sister Margaid and her husband and two children will be starting their "Easter" Holiday in the Isle of Man on Saturday. They live in Crouch End in London and some of the UK schools have moved their holidays away from Easter this year. Its the first time that I have seen them since the London Marathon last year and we'll be out for lunch at Glen Helen on Sunday and plan to spend plenty of time with them and the rest of our family on the Isle of Man.

My brother-in-law Alan was offered £10,000 in sponsorship if he ran the London Marathon a few years ago but only managed only a single 10 minute run before telling his sponsor that their money was safe! He is Fund Raising Director for UK charity Shelter who had been one of the two special charities in the Flora London Marathon that year.

Since then, unbelievably to us, Alan has completed two short triathlons and now cycles daily to work. Some months ago Margaid looked up the fixture list on the manxathletics.com and noticed that there is a run in Ramsey next Friday when they will still be here. She decided that Alan would take part! Our son Robbie has been getting his sprint finishes honed in the belief that he can beat Alan. With our other son Ben having got the running bug (he goes back to university the next day) and the possibility of my nieces also running the junior race in Ramsey I'm looking forward to that night.

The only trouble is that I will be in London from Friday morning until Monday morning for one of the highlights of my year. I love the marathon weekend and I'll write more about it soon. I may even update the blog from London on my laptop.

As well as having run London in 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 & 2007 (8 times if I can count) I have spectated and supported the other Manx runners every year that I have not run in that period (I also watched in 1983 and 1984). It is quite demanding to provide the statistical and pictorial coverage on the website as well as running.

Before I go, if at all possible, I will do the next of the features on the parishwalk.com . I have provisionally arranged a meeting with the subjects for Wednesday evening.

I'm also hoping to take pictures and to make another film of the Snaefell Fell Race tomorrow, although the difficulty of access has lessened the chances.

Our holiday business at murrayandmarie.com has record bookings for this year and so when I return from London I will be preparing our cottage at Port Soderick every weekend until October (except of course the Parish Walk weekend when it will be outsourced!).

I'm not going to be able to make the cross country presentation tonight either but hope that it is reasonably well supported. Andy Fox, who already has so m any jobs in the sport, has worked so hard to make this happens. I hope that you enjoy it.

I understand that Brian Goldsmith's funeral is planned for Friday 11th April and so regrettably I shall miss it.

It has been an incredibly sad period for the Isle of Man with a succession of people connected with the sport passing away. This is another area that I will return to when it is appropriate to do so.

I hope to have a few words on other subjects in the next 10 days but, if there are gaps, please bear with me.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Parish walkers can be fooled

I've just made another phone call to Sue: "Hi Sue - did you hear that those two Parish walkers Michael George and Mark Hempsall were among the people fooled by the April fool story on the http://www.manxathletics.com/ site" I asked?

"Oh yes, the one about Nigel Armstrong, whose main target for the season is to run the 56 mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa on 15 June, will run two laps of the London Marathon on 13 April in preparation. Last month he intended to run the Draycote Marathon in just under 3 hours but couldn't hold back as much as intended and ran 2:46:50. The original plan for London was also to go just inside three hours (rather than attack his 2004 PB on 2:44:32) and possibly help his friend Mark Clague to beat that barrier for the first time. The training schedule that he is following involves a number of "back to back" long sessions at weekends and he thought about running a long session on the day before the London Marathon to ensure that he did not overdo the main event (the faster pace requires much more recovery time and therefore interferes with his ultra marathon training). But there were logistical problems with this plan and so he has been in touch with the organisers of the Flora London Marathon to arrange to run two laps of the marathon on the same day. They are always keen to get the extra publicity and so they are going to help him.He'll start the first lap as soon as the roads close at 6 am. He plans to finish the first lap at about 9.30, 15 minutes before the main event starts. The organisers will have a car lined up to take him from the finish back to the start and he'll commence his second lap at 10 am. This will give him sufficient space on the road to wind his way through the slower runners. Although the lack of clear space will undoubtedly slow his second lap, he will be out to get close to his first lap time - possibly in around 3.45. The chip that runners carry on their shoes will record both times and the faster of his two laps will be included in the official results.He'll have a light breakfast in between laps (the Strand Palace Hotel where he is staying is close to the finish) to get used to running with food. One thing is for sure, he will be so hungry for the next 24 hours that he'll even beat Mike Garrett (who has been planning his full English Breakfast on Monday morning for several months!) to the breakfast table. For the past three years Nigel has taken several of us to the Savoy Hotel after the marathon. The Savoy is currently closed for renovations but I'll take him to the Ritz this year if he achieves this target. Unfortunately Nigel is struggling with a knee injury at the moment which may curtail his plans. I can't think of anything that will stop him. Can you?" that women that I previously described as stupid replied.