Yesterday was the Empire Garage Peel to Douglas Walk, held in the wettest conditions ever apparently, according to John Cannell (six times P.W. winner and veteran of 30 Peel to Douglas) and the way I was dripping at the end, I'm not about to dispute that.
Despite the weather, 55 hardy souls started the race and all but one managed to finish. Finding marshals has been a real challenge in recent times and I hope that none have them have been put off by the drenching they all received on Sunday. Even in the rain , they were all very encouraging to us and I think I can thank them, all the other organisers, timekeeper etc. on behalf of all the walkers. Particular mention should be made of Paul Jackson and Nick Percival who overcame mechanical disaster to get all the signs in place and pick them up after.
Although walking through rivers with feet feeling like lumps of lead, there were some great performances, particularly by Peter Kaneen and Marie Jackson, winners of the men's and lady's races.
A little further down the field, Andy Green continued his impressive introduction to race walking. Mark Stewart still has a little way to go before he gets back to his best (82 mins) but improved on his last race, Janice Quirk finshed on the podium again and Dave Mackey knocked nearly 11 minutes off his January time, thrilling the ladies in his 'Skins.'
Believe it or not except for the two highest profile races on the Island (Parish & End to End,) Sean Hands' and my P.B.s (personal best performances) are very similar and I have spent most of 2007 hoping that he would come back in the belief that we would spur each other on to better things. Well , yesterday, I spent about 5 or 6 miles wishing he would go away again. I heard footsteps coming alongside me at Greeba Castle (at least I think it was there. My brain tends to go A.W.O.L. during races) and looked across expecting to see Jock Waddington and was surprised to see Sean who I think it's fair to say hasn't really been at the races since his triumphant 2006 season culminated with his brilliant win in the 100 miles.
We passed each other several times on the swim into home and it was only in the last mile or so when I was able to open a little gap. In fact he nearly caught me at the end when I tiptoed along the kerb instead of parting the waves in the lake at the Q.B. Let's hope he will now get back to his best and our rivalry will continue. Whether I am in the same Parish as him remains to be seen.
Rather than offer tips, I think it would be better just to tell you about the mistakes I make in each race and training session and pretty soon, you'll have a comprehensive list of what not to do.
Yesterday's novice errors were:
I wore a cotton tea-shirt instead of Lycra vest and within minutes it was absolutely sodden and soo heavy that I had half a mind to stop and take it off.
Forgot to take my inhaler and wheezed from Peel to Douglas.
Lubricated under my arms and between my legs but forgot to take the rain into account and apply the vaseline to other parts of my body. Therefore, today I am pretty sore in some sensitive areas (and I don't mean feet or muscles.)