Race day saw sunny, hot and blustery conditions which tested the mettle of all those taking part.
My plan was to walk with a little group of people including my wife, Vinny Lynch and some friends to Peel and I must admit, I really enjoyed the social aspect of the early miles down to Rushen. By Rushen though, my feet started to let me know they were still not right and after a couple of more miles of discomfort, I sensibly pulled out of the race at the bottom the of the Sloc. There was no point in making my feet any worse. Although slightly disappointed I didn't make it to Peel, I had a great time chatting to other competitors and supporters at the road side along the way. This is an aspect of the event which is lost for those at the head of the race.
There were some fantastic performances accross the field which saw 184 finsihers of which 71 were first time finishers, the most notable of which is that of fellow blogger Richard Wild. An accomplished walker at shorter distances, this was his first attempt at a Parish finish and whilst he admitted to being apprehensive prior to the start, he remained sensible, judged his race extremely well and was ultimately rewarded with a podium position of which he should be suitably proud.
It is good to see that fellow blogger Steph Quayle finished too as she has been suffering with a similar ankle injury to the one I have been wrestling with and it would have undoubtedly affected her performance on the day - well done Steph.
Dave Walker has been very strong in training during the year and as a result, he had an absolute blinder to knock more than an hour off his PB and claim a very much deserved second place.
Congrats to Alex Eaton who convincingly won the U21 men's race to Peel and also to Danielle Oates who won the ladies U21 race. Both started as junior race walkers with Manx Harriers and have been mentored over the years by Alan Callow and Elizabeth Corran respecively. Worthy of note is that Danielle has missed quite a bit of training this year due to injury so it is testament to her determination that she won her race by a good ten minutes.
Worthy winner of the ladies race was Jeanette Morgan who led from the start and never really looked like being caught although the tenacious Janice Quirk didn't let her have it all her own way and was a constant threat.
Richard Gerrard took his first 'solo' win and deservedly so. Although never seriously challenged, he walked most of the race on his own and it can be a long and lonely road sometimes, especially if you have a bit of a wobble which he did on the way to Maughold.
I think this could be the first of many wins for Richard who isn't yet 44. Why 44? Apart from very nearly being the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything, several years ago, around about 2008, someone produced an interesting statistic that the average age of a competitor doing the Parish Walk was 44. This made a lot of sense to me because, at that time, I had entered the Parish 5 times and gained a lot of invaluable experience. My finising times were gettng quicker and I was leaping up the leader board from 62nd in 2005 to 18th in 2006 to 7th in 2007. 2008 was the year in which I first won the race and I was 44 at that time.
Thinking about it logically, people in their 20s and early 30s will be busy honing more important life skills such as seeing the world, young families, working, socialising and generally living life. They won't be that interested in walking hundres of miles in training to do the Parish Walk simply 'because it's there'. It will be there at some other time.
There are exceptions to every rule though (Adam Killip, Dale Farquhar to name but two), but for the most part, and as a generalisation bourne from statistics, this interesting statement seems to hold some merit.
Hopefully, you overcame the challenging conditions on Saturday and managed to reach your target whatever or wherever that was. If you did, give yourself a well deserved pat on the back. If you didn't manage to make it, chances are that you uttered the famous words "Never again!". However, now that the pain is subsiding and the mind starts to forget the angst you put yourself through on Saturday, it seems that it actually "wasn't that bad" and that you did enjoy it. Or at least some of it.
Give it a couple of weeks and you'll be up for the challenge again and a plan will start to formulate in the depths your mind.
Entries will open in less than six months and we'll do it all over again!
Finally, I hope this blog was of use to some of you and that some tips or pointers helped you in some small way to achieve what you set out to do.
Happy walking and the very best of luck for the future.