Sunday, 25 June 2017

Boy.... Was it Hot

Well the dust has now settled on the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk and what an event it was weather wise. Last year’s event was hot, but this year, wow was it hot. Standing at the NSC last Saturday before the start it was already known it was going to be a warm one as the early sun already had warmth in it as we stood on the start line. Once underway in the race I walked with Mike Bonney and we were afforded some shelter from the sun on the way up past the plantation after Braid roundabout thanks to some cloud cover. Unfortunately it did not last and by Santon we were back in the sunlight and the temperature had risen significantly. My plan to walk at a pace that would see me reach the first checkpoint at Santon Church just under 2 hours was already gone as I arrived around 2mins over. Mike had moved ahead by this point and the event from here on for me was quite a lonely one apart from Christine's company every mile, she had turned up on the Oatlands road to start her support car duties. As I walked over the Orrisdale road Mike George and his wife Irene, who were spectating, claimed he had ordered Fog for the Sloc, from my position I could see it was indeed starting to roll in. By the time I reached Rushen however it was evident that the Sloc was going to be an uncomfortable trek as the fog Mike had ordered had all but gone and the sun was burning up the recently laid tarmac. I accepted a Beer this year at the Roundtable before starting the decent into Dalby and Glen Maye I was a little conservative dropping down as I cramped quite bad at Dalby last year, it took me till Kirk Michael to recover, so a drop in pace was my way of trying to prevent a repeat, in turn, this made me slower than last year into Peel but I was 7th albeit already 40 minutes behind the leading duo of Richard Gerrard and Liam Parker. As you know Peel is my home town so walking up the main street and onto Derby Road to the Town Hall check point was again this year met with great support from family and friends, however from experience, I know this support is deservedly given to all that pass through or choose to stop at St Germans 32.5miles into the event.

Peel to Bride is the section I least look forward to. I think because the Firefighters Charity Walk takes the same route only 8 weeks before the parish, this is the reasoning, in my mind anyway. The crowd outside the Mitre in Kirk Michael were spot on as always, I think the Fancy Dress costumes stayed in the box this year or at least I did not see anyone dressed up like last year. I passed Mike Bonney going into Ballaugh who was struggling with the temperature, something he will admit himself is his nemesis, a couple of degrees cooler or at least a good covering of cloud I doubt I would of seen Mike as he would have been well gone. On the way back down the lane that leads up to Jurby Church, 45 miles in, Mike told me he was retiring as we passed one another. My focus now was to try and reel in Pete Miller who had passed me on the return road leading to Jurby. I thought by now the heat may have started to go out of the sun and it would be a more pleasant walk to Bride given I was now near 10 hours in, the high hedges gave little shade and the lack of tree cover was also evident. Christine had started soaking my cap with cold water and as it dried swapped it with a spare also soaked in water, she continued to do this until the run into Maughold just before 2200hrs when the sun was at last setting but the temperature remained. I passed Pete heading towards Andreas as he stopped alongside his support car and seen him again at Andreas church. From here on myself and Pete passed one another several times, one to mention was whilst I was in a port-a-loo that Christine had spotted near the Silly Moos in Lezayre. Pete walked past as Christine stood outside prepared with Vaseline, Baby wipes and a can of Freeze Spray and shouted "it’s not that bad is it" and "are you doing the parish log" it clearly was that bad and I apologise to the driver of the Hiab wagon for more likely changing the centre of gravity of the said loo. The Freeze Spray was for my legs, I must hasten to add, not for any other sensitive area of the body. Parliament Square was chocker with people supporting from the Pubs either side of the road who had starting cheering long before my arrival at the junction and continued to shout, clap and cheer as I headed out toward the turning towards maughold. I caught Pete again as we started are climb towards Maughold church so we walked into the checkpoint together and stayed together till a mile or so after Ballajora. I had put a jacket on by now believing it would get cooler as it started to darken, it hadn't, but I left the jacket on until the finish. The walk through Glen Mona and Bulgham  was again a lonely one. My daughter had turned up to help support for the last 12 or so miles so it was good to see her, although Christine seemed to be still doing most of the running as Annalise sat in the car. Karen Lawrie past me as I walked into the top of Laxey, this had the effect of me picking up my own pace to try and keep up with her. On the return road to Lonan church I wished her well for the remaining 7 miles in thinking I would not see her again until the end. The walk through Baldrine and along the LA straight seemed to fly by and it wasn't long before I was dropping down the Whitebridge into Onchan. My head torch was not the best by now (cheap batteries) so making out the hedge and gutter was difficult in the pitch darkness. I was surprised I had managed to Keep Karen insight from Lonan so we did indeed see each other again at the up and down of Onchan Church. We both knew at this point we had all but finished so congratulated each other a little prematurely, with 2 miles to go of an 85 mile race, I think we were both confident at this point. Christine and Annalise had gone ahead to the finish, after supporting me one last time on Royal Avenue, so it was good to know they were going to be at the end. Like last year there were one or two drunken supporters on the Promenade which is always entertaining. The prom itself, for me anyway, always seems to go on for ever, the lights of the finish are clearly insight from the old swimming pool site but never seem to get any closer. Sure enough though, after what seemed like an age, I crossed the finish line of the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk in 5th Position overall and 3rd Male in a time of 17:52.03.

Sundays won’t be the same now as I will not have this blog to write, and, as this will be my last chance to say some Thankyou's, here goes

 Thankyou to the organisers, sponsors, marshal’s, medical teams and supporters for a great event

 Thankyou to Christine and Annalise for all the support on the day.

 Thankyou to The Caff race walking team for all the help and advice

 Thankyou to Bridget Kaneen for all her support

 Thankyou to Richard and Kyley Gerrard for putting my name forward for the Blog last year

 Thankyou Murray for giving me the opportunity. You are, and will continue to be missed by all.

And Thanks for reading ……….

Friday, 16 June 2017

Good Luck!

Well here we all are less than 24 hours away from the start of the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk. This is it.. all the training and pre event planning has brought us here, to this, the evening before the event.

Good Luck to everyone for tomorrow. I really do hope you all reach your distance goals, whether that be the 11 miles to Santon, the 19 miles to Rushen, the 32.5 miles to Peel or the full 85 miles to the finish, in Douglas, sometime before 8am Sunday morning.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Rain Rain and More Rain!

A late start on Saturday was planned due to most of us being out the night before enjoying the last day of TT 2017. Ray kindly picked me up so i did not have to drive through from Peel first thing, after a rather late night, it was definitly a good move. By the time we reached the NSC at 8 o'clock the rain was fair bouncing which seems to of been the norm for the last week. Andy had already arrived and Dave was not long after, all of us deciding to sit in the shelter of our cars. Rich arrived on foot and was not long climbing into Dave's car for shelter. A discussion was then held, through slightly lowered windows as to whether we should man up and venture out for a lap of Baldwin or head straight for breakfast in The Caff. After some discussion we did indeed man up and headed off towards Mount Rule. The rain eased off and was as good as stopped once half way round the 10 mile loop, getting out and plodding round was the right call. This was the last Saturday walk, obviously, before the Parish so pace and distance were irrelevant.

Apart from a stroll on Tuesday evening I will not do anything now before the event. The next week will be spent insuring all my kit is ready, that I have batteries and spares for my head torch and rear lights and any last bits of food stuff have been purchased and prepared.

I cant believe it is now only 6 days until we line up at the National Sports Centre to start the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk. Numbers and Timing Chips will be available from the NSC on Thursday 1730 - 2030hrs and Friday 1730 - 1930hrs........... See you all there!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Nights........ Done! (again)

Thankfully I am at the end of another set of nights. I was supposed to be doing an extra one for one of the guys that wanted to enjoy Senior Race day without the knowledge of having to come to work at 2300hrs Friday night, however, I have managed to pass the shift on to one of the other guys who covers for us when required so my weekend can start as soon as I finish here in a couple of hours’ time. I have convinced Christine that we should take the girls out for some lunch, more likely down south, as it looks like the bikes will go ahead today judging by the morning that is breaking outside of my office window, this way I can have a few drinks with lunch and hopefully continue with the drinking once back in Peel for the evening.

Training has been the normal Tuesday and Thursday sessions over Marine Drive this week so far. The plan for Saturday is to do a loop of Baldwin before breakfast at The Caff. I have not felt 100% this week with a slight stomach bug and also a cough developing over the last few days. It is more likely to be just the body out of balance from working the last 7 Nights and trying to get some sleep during the day which hasn't really gone to plan. Christine alters and badges up racing leathers as well as working at Penny Bridge Stables so each day there has been callers dropping off or picking up leathers that have needed work carried out so sleeping during the day has not been easy.

With only a week now until the start of the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk I have started buying what's needed, food wise, so I can start to put a box together of everything required on the day. I will also get any medical bits and bobs this weekend and have them boxed up ready. It’s surprising how quick certain things go off the shelves, leading up to the Parish, with 1400 competitors all wanting blister plasters, Vaseline, sports drinks etc. it’s not hard to see why.

Christine has asked that I try and find someone to either do support for the last part of the race or at least someone that will go with her for the last part. I know last year she was not comfortable driving in the dark, keeping an eye out for me and also having to be careful where she was parking and swinging doors open. My Daughter ended up jumping in the car with her at the Dhoon but this was totally unplanned so this year I will try and sort something out. It really is a long day for the support crews. Last year Christine met me on the Oatlands Road in Santon, probably 1.5hrs into the walk, and stuck with me then till the finish in Douglas approx. 16.5hrs later. I would like to think I will complete the event in a similar time this year so she is more than aware there is another 16 hours or more, sitting in a car, to look forward too next weekend, the least I can do is try and find her either some relief or company for the last few hours.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Happy TT!

Happy TT everyone!

I am writing this whilst the majority of those competing in the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk will be tucked up in bed. I started another set of nights on Friday which will see me working the early hours until next Saturday morning. Nights are always double edged and although they mean I can train most evenings and maybe fit one or two extra walks in during the days they also prevent me from attending any social get togethers, or at least being able to drink if I do. With it being TT week  it’s even more frustrating that the evening entertainment, put on at places such as the Bushy’s beer tent and my local pubs in Peel, will have to be missed in favour of tipping up here at 2300hrs each evening for the night shift.

Training over the last week has been ok. I managed to get out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and also went straight from finishing here yesterday morning to the NSC to meet up with Andy, Rich and Ray for a stroll. The group put a good session in last weekend around Glen Roy, which I missed due to work, this weekend we headed out again on one of the regular training loops started by heading out through Strang to Crosby before crossing the main Douglas to Peel road and heading up the steep School Hill past Ellerslie. From here we continued out as far as Garth crossroads before turning towards The Braid and picking up the Parish route through to Santon before turning left at the end of the Oatlands road and heading back in over Marine Drive to finish as always outside The Caff. The weather started quite overcast first thing but soon warmed up once the sun broke through which made for a warm end to the walk. My watch had recorded just over 16 miles at the end as we took in the sunshine with an outside table to enjoy breakfast. The pace wasn't too bad for a quite hilly route but the legs were starting to feel it a little towards the end.

Unfortunately for the fans over for the racing it has been a poor start to the festival weather wise, however, when the weather has been good it has been really good so they have not had it all bad. Hopefully the weather will stick around for the planned racing Today, Monday and Tuesday although early reports suggest it will break again Monday. Walking this morning for the first couple of hours would be perfect conditions for me on the Parish in 13 days’ time but I guess anything is better than wet and windy. Marine Drive was a popular place this morning with a few people out getting the last few miles in the legs before tapering off towards the event to allow the legs a little bit of rest before the off.

Steve Taylor posted this week that the National 50k Championships will be held on the Island early in September, a fortnight before the End to End Walk. Early chatter amongst the group is most are going to give it a go. The distance is the same as the Firefighters Memorial Walk back in April but differs in that it is being held on a completely flat course around a 1km loop of the National Sports Centre and will be judged under Cat A rules unlike the Parish, End to End and Firefighters which are judged to Cat B rules regarding technique as follows

Rule 230 Definition of Race Walking: Race walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground, so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg shall be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until the vertical upright position.

The event is held with a Race Walking Association Category B permit which allows the judging rules to be relaxed with only the contact part of IAAF rule 230 being applied.

It would be great to see the event well supported and for those that have only this year got into walking, in preparation for the parish, this gives another event to continue with the solid training over the summer months you have already put in. As stated in my early posts, Race Walking coaching is available on a Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday night at the NSC and on a Saturday in Peel for those that want to take part, once back from holiday, I will be spending more time with Bridget Kaneen to prepare for the event. The two week gap between the 50K and the 2017 Ramsey Bakery End to End and then only another 4 weeks there after until the South African Centurion in Cape Town means a busy couple of months, walking wise, to look forward to once the 2017 Manx Telecom Parish Walk is (hopefully) completed for another year.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Rice Pudding!!

Training started on Monday this week with a rather pacey walk up over Baldwin with Richard. At the time it felt gruesome but in fairness it was needed to free the legs off after the Race the Sun. Tuesday, again seen only myself and one other of the usual group out, Ray had headed to Spain for a short break before his life is taken over by the TT for 2 weeks, Stew was still away and Andy and Rich were both busy with work, so that left Dave and I to tackle Marine Drive. Both nights were a struggle, more so with the temperature, but the weather really made it worth being out. Wednesday was a night off and Thursday four of us met up and done the loop around Douglas / Onchan. I missed Saturday as I was on a day shift and also had to decline an invitation to train again this morning (Sunday) due to work commitments. On the subject of work commitments, I am hopeful that this may be my last weekend for a while working on shift. An opportunity has arisen for me to transfer onto day work (Mon - Fri) for a while whist the Power Station goes through a routine outage. I will more likely still have to work over weekends when necessary but at least I can train and arrive a little later in the morning rather than having to be in at a set time to take over from the previous shift and miss out completely.

I found some Nectar Hydro Tabs before the Race the Sun event and have used them before and after training over the last week. I more often than not have a case of water in the boot of the car and have been adding one or two of the Tabs, for flavour, rather than drinking it plain. I may have mentioned before that the High5 sachets I use give me a dry mouth and sometimes taste as though the last mouthful is still very powdery in the back of the throat. The Tabs don't give this feeling but the down side to them is they do not contain any calories, unlike the high5 product. I have ordered 3 more tubs for the Parish. It may sound daft but the calories in a drink are more likely the only calories you will be getting toward the end of a long walk unless you are one of the few that can eat right up till the end of a long distance race. I find after so long I refuse solids in preference of fluids, this can happen in the space of a mile, I can be quite happy eating the odd sandwich, cake and bits of fruit but all of a sudden just want fluids. When this does happen it’s important that the drink is made up with something that will at least give some amount of energy otherwise the fuel used to keep the body moving forward will soon run out. The Tabs, like the High5, also have key electrolytes so the salts lost are also replaced / kept in balance.

On the subject of foods etc. that I eat during an event I have made a list below to give some idea. some of the choices may make you think 'URGH' I couldn't eat that whilst walking, but by now, if you have been trying different foods, you will know what is best for you and what does not upset your stomach or mind on the day. I say mind as what goes on in your head plays a big part in whether you finish or not. The slightest thing, that would normally not bother you, can really peeve you off on the day, one of mine is sticky hands, Christine and Colin have helped me enough now to know that if I am having something  sticky they have a Wet Wipe ready as well so I can wipe my hands and face after eating it.


Rice Pudding
Various Sandwiches
Salted Nuts
Fruit Cake
Ginger Cake
Fruit Jelly
Naked Bars

Later on in the race Christine will have most of this stuff on a large tray so I can help myself to what I fancy. At the beginning, so I'm told, I'm quite predictable so she has what I like, and usually want, ready for me as I pass. I become a little more fussy and awkward (a pain in the arse) later so the tray is her way of preventing any arguments. You really don't want to get to the point where you are arguing with your support, for fear, as has happened in the past on the Parish, they get in the car and head home leaving you with nothing or no one to give you the assistance and encouragement you will so desperately need as the miles drag on.

Also No support = No finish  (rule 13 below) if you are already thinking that you may go on further than Peel 'depending on how I feel' then you should already have support arranged in case. One or two who I know and are taking part this year have said this to me recently and I have said the exact same thing to them. Also if  whoever they are knows they may be required, if everything is going well, then they can also be prepared for what may be a long night ahead of them.

13. Competitors continuing beyond Ballaugh must be individually accompanied by an attendant in a car. The sharing of a support vehicle is not permitted. Attendants must wear hi-viz reflective clothing.

Honestly you really don't want to be heading through Kirk Michael thinking how well you are going and how you told yourself you would only get as far as Peel to then start panicking and trying to organise last minute support to enable you to go on past Ballaugh

My phone has just alerted me to a WhatsApp from Dave Walker for a walk tomorrow morning. With it being Bank Holiday Monday I guess lots will take advantage of the long weekend and get some additional miles in. With less than 3 weeks to go now until the gun goes off at 0800hrs on Saturday 17th June these may be the miles that count!!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Race the Sun

Another week of training has come to an end finishing yesterday with the Isle of Man Children Centre Race the Sun. Tuesday seen only me and Richard out training due to work commitments and being off Island for one or two of the others. I finally managed on Wednesday to meet with Pete Miller for a stroll around Cringle and Ronauge. Pete had invited me down, a couple of times previously, to train on one of his local routes but through work or racing commitments I hadn't been able to. The route was a good 10 miles and was just as hilly going out as coming back so ended up being a good walk effort wise. Pete is walking really well and will undoubtedly be on for the most improved on previous time award come the Parish in a few weeks’ time.

On Thursday I had my first experience of judging a race walk event. The Manx Harriers Club 5K was held on the T.T access road and was an opportunity to get one of the four signatures I need to be signed off as a level 1 judge. As I compete on most of the events it may take a while to get all four signatures but at least when not taking part I can give something back by helping officiate.

As already said, yesterday, was the Isle of Man Children Centre Race the Sun. I had opted for the first leg starting in Peel, at 05.06, from the Kiosk on the Promenade opposite the Marine Hotel. I arrived down around 20 minutes before the start and wasn't surprised to see most other runners warming up along the sea front. If it were a walking race I would have done some sprints etc. to warm up as well, however, as it was running I thought it was best left to the more capable athletes, the 11.5 miles ahead of me was already a concern, distance wise, I definitely didn't need to go adding distance by running up and down the promenade as some kind of warm up routine! The majority of the 30 teams were lined up at the start with only 2 or 3 others opting to start later, one reason for this was the tide time, being high tide at 06.40. I set off at sun rise and headed out over the Headlands to White Strand before picking up a short bit of road section and turning right onto the old railway line at Knocksharry. I recced this section in the opposite direction a few weeks ago, at that time there was a couple of boggy sections, yesterday thanks to the good weather we have experienced in the last couple of weeks those sections had almost dried. Once out as far as Glen Mooar we dropped down from the railway line and headed to the beach after crossing the main Peel to Kirk Michael coast road. This was to be the first section of sand as far as Glen Wyllin and straight away it was apparent it was going to be hard work as the tide conditions meant we were running quite high up on the beach in the softer sand. Once at Glen Wyllin we had to make are way up over the sea defense boulders, again due to the tide preventing us from running around them. After cutting up through the camp site we again picked up the disused railway line out as far as Bishops Court where again the course diverted from the footpath onto the beach via a couple of fields and someone’s back yard, we had to run between their house and garage to gain access to the next bit of beach section. This last bit of the route up to Ballaugh Cronk was over 2 miles running in the soft sand. My finish time was 06.48 (1hr 42mins for the leg) so the tide was at its highest as I ran the last mile. Dale Farquhar was doing the second leg which started with a 6 mile beach section and said at the Point of Ayre how difficult it was. I did the second leg last year and it could not of been more different in that the tide was at its lowest and running on the water’s edge was not to dissimilar to running on the road the sand was that compacted. The team did a tremendous job of clawing any time lost through conditions under foot, and in my case not being the strongest runner, over the remaining 8 legs taking in Maughold, Laxey, Douglas, Port Grenaugh, Port St Mary, Bradda, Niarbyl and Peel to finish at 19.35 giving us a total time of 14hrs 29mins compared to 14hrs 32mins last year. From waking just before 0400 it was a long day ending after midnight in The Creek following the Presentation and Buffett held in the Marine. Thanks and huge congratulations must go to Lisa Motley and her team at the Children’s Centre for organising another great event.

The planned training for this morning came to naught. Feeling quite good last night I had agreed to a stroll, however, on getting out of bed and walking toward the shower the effect of the alcohol that had been consumed, starting at The Bay in Port Erin yesterday afternoon, had worn off and I was as stiff as a board. With only 26 days left now until the start of the Manx Telecom 2017 Parish Walk there can be no excuse for not getting out tomorrow night.