Sunday, 23 June 2013

An honourable 'Bust'

Good afternoon. Here's my mileage from yesterday (including a short warm-up walk down to the start).

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals) 
Since last post (21 Jun 2013)
Since records began (27 Dec 2012)

And here are my official race stats:

But, of course, the stats only tell part of the story, so here's as full an account as I can muster of my experience of the race.

My Parish Walk

At the start we were near the back, but had made our way up to the middle of the field by Santon, finding a position that matched our pace. After a short toilet break at Santon and time for Mrs W to Compeed a blister we forged on to Arbory. Unfortunately, Mrs W's blister popped shortly after Arbory, and she decided to call it a day at Rushen. She was very happy with the result: she'd reached her primary goal in a decent time.

Mrs W and I getting ready for the start
I was starting to feel an impending blister on my left heel, so I patched it with a Compeed at Rushen before heading on up the Sloc. The first steep section was a little challenging, but after that it was a fairly comfortable climb. I spent a few miles on the way up chatting with some fellow 'overseas participants': they'd both been over to the Island several times for the Parish Walk. Coincidentally, it turned out that they were in-laws of Murray Lambden.

Once I reached the plateau, I returned to my 4 mph pace, as I'd slowed a bit during the climb. After grabbing some refreshments from my supporters at Round Table I started the long drop down into Peel. I struggled a bit during the early miles, after finding myself out on my own between two groups: quicker than one group but not quite quick enough to make much headway on the other. Eventually I did catch them on the way into Dalby, but was re-passed when I stopped to tend to an emerging blister on the ball of my right foot. I caught up again and it was then to-and-fro with that group until Patrick.

I got renewed energy between Patrick and Peel, especially on the final stretch into the checkpoint at Peel: I passed about a dozen people between the turn into Market Street and the checkpoint. Having reached my primary goal I decided to continue, although I was very conscious that my feet were starting to struggle with the distance and that any hope of reaching Douglas Promenade was gone.

Arriving at Peel

I changed my shoes and socks outside the chippy on the corner of Church Street; it helped a little, but the climb out of Peel was a struggle, and it was clear that I was falling off the pace and back through the field. My legs actually felt fine, but I was having to walk a little more gingerly to accommodate my feet.

Looking strong, but feeling the blisters on the way out of Peel

At some stage I thought that my feet might take me as far as Jurby, but unfortunately this was rather optimistic. By the time Murray Lambden's in-laws caught up to me again a few miles from Kirk Michael it was clear that I was struggling, and would have to finish my race there. As a first-timer, I was happy to have made it to Peel in a decent time and to have gone on at least a short way beyond Peel. The weather, which had been unexpectedly kind during the day, was starting to worsen, and the heavens really opened as we made our way back to the car, so it seems like I chose a good time to stop.

On the way in to Kirk Michael with Murray Lambden's in-laws, Alan and David

A dramatic postlude

After I finished at Kirk Michael we continued round the course to see how the rest of the field was doing. It was truly humbling to see just how far ahead of me some walkers were. We stopped at Bride to cheer my cousin's husband, Ed Walter, through the checkpoint. While we were waiting, I got out of the car to chat with my other cousin and his wife. Aside from rather tender feet and a natural amount of tiredness I felt fine, otherwise I would have stayed in the car. However, I was suddenly aware of my vision rapidly receding and the next thing I knew I was on the ground with a lot of concerned faces around me: I had blanked out for a few seconds before coming round.

I was up again and sitting in the car within a minute, with nothing but a bit of grazing on my leg where I fell. As we headed homewards I felt fine again, but Mrs W and my parents were understandably concerned and wanted me to get checked out. The decision was made when I blanked out again for a few seconds in the car as we went round the mountain, so we set course for Noble's A&E. After various tests the verdict was exhaustion and slight dehydration: I thought I'd been drinking (and eating) quite a lot on my way round the course, but evidently not enough. I was also surprised to end up looking like a lobster: based on the weather forecast I had anticipated that it would be mostly overcast, and hadn't expected sunburn would be an issue, so I hadn't greased myself up before the race, and didn't think to do it at any of the stops once it was clear that the weather was turning out better than expected.

Today, my legs are a bit stiff, my feet are a bit tender, and my skin is glowing, but otherwise I'm unscathed. Lessons learned:

  • Take on food and fluid at every opportunity;
  • Don't underestimate the power of the sun;
  • Effective foot management is key to achieving significant distances.

Thanks and congratulations

Overall, it was a great event to be part of. I'd like to extend my thanks to all the sponsored and impromptu refreshment stands, to those around the course applauding and offering shouts of encouragement, and to the fellow walkers who chatted to me on my travels: you spurred me on. Also, to the race officials, who give so generously of their time to make the Parish Walk possible.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank my support team for their help and to apologise for giving them rather a nasty fright at Bride, and to the fan club at Rushen who gave me a great boost. I'd also like to thank the staff at Nobles A&E for their kindness despite my self-inflicted condition.

Congratulations to all participants: I hope you reached or exceeded your goals.

Some particular honourable mentions:

  • Regular contributor Michael George for a well-deserved win!
  • Cousin-in-law and contributor Ed Walter for a Top 100 finish and a personal best time
  • Regular contributor James Bassett, who made it to Maughold in just over 16 hours.
  • Fellow blogger Paul Callow for a great performance.
  • Team Cooil Ny Rhunnings for getting to Peel in a bobsleigh

Cooil Ny Rhunnings at the start
  • Family friend Terry Qualtrough for winning 'Best Dressed Male' and making it to Peel
Terry Qualtrough at the start

It only remains for me to say thanks for reading one last time. Writing the blog has been a great motivator for me during my training, and I've received a lot of great advice and encouragement from the contributors.

See you on the start line for Parish Walk 2014?


  1. Well done David. I've always believed the very best walkers stop at Kirk Michael at their first attempt. Well, when I say "always" believed, certainly since my first Parish in 2009 when I got to Kirk Michael!

    Thanks for the "honourable" mention. At the time, I was devastated at having to stop in Maughold (nothing against Maughold itself) after inflaming an old knee ligament injury. 36 hours later I'm a little less depressed and starting to plan for 2014!

    See you then!

  2. Well done David. The Parish is a harsh mistress and I don't think anyone who has attempted it would disagree? You did so well for your first time and hopefully you'll be returning to try your hand once again in the next few years?

    The first year that I was brave enough to go past Peel, I finished at Kirk Miachael as it was the natural progression, the time after that I stopped at Jurby, after a few years of giving the Parish a miss, I completed it. The gradual progression certainly gave me a greater respect for the event, so I think that when you decide to do it again, you'll be in a much better position to finish the full 85 miles.

    Once again, congratulations on the walk and the blog, it's been a great read and I look forward to your next one!

  3. Great effort for a first attempt. There's always next year ;)

  4. Thanks again for the encouragement!

    I hope to make it over for another attempt in 2014.