If you had said to me 6 months ago that I would be training hard for an 85 mile endurance walk, I would have laughed out loud.I would pull a face if I had to walk down to the shop just to get the papers. But this is the situation I find myself in today for the Parish Walk in June and, quite frankly,like a child on Christmas Eve, I cannot wait for the big day.
I have caught the race walking bug bigtime and it is spreading quickly. I first got a sniff of it last year when my father-in-law Dave Capelen, who is well-known in athletic circles on the Island,walked to Rushen- which got me thinking I would like to do that. That's the beauty of it - it's so easy to start walking, you just need that initial push or spark and Dave had provided it. Decent pair of trainers and you're set.
I then competed in my first event in September in the local 25k Boundary Stroll , then onto the shortened End-to-End (30mile) which I managed to finish in one piece in just over six and a half hours despite minimal training. It was this walk which gave me confidence for the big one.
The Parish Walk is now something special, second in stature, I believe, to only the TT in Isle of Man sporting events. Having been on its knees in the past, it is now flourishing with record entries, record speeds and record finishers and it shows no signs of abating. The whole event is a credit to everyone who organises it, which must be a logistical nightmare.
The Parish does not discriminate age, sex or ability - it is open to all comers and all shapes and sizes. Therein lies the simplicity and the pure magic of it for me. I am definitely not the only one who thinks this way either - many of you are just as sad as me, pouring over stats, counting away the days !
What am I aiming for ? Well, obviously priority number one is to get the training under my belt so I have the best possible chance of finishing the race - anything after that would be a bonus. The statistics are weighted against me I know ...many of today's top walkers failed in their first ever try. However, one statement which continues to motivate me, came from the legendary Allan Callow who told me by the time I line up on the starting line in June, not to have any regrets or have any doubts about my preparation. I fully intend to give it my best.Good luck to us all !