Friday, 27 June 2008

Well Done, The Amazing Bethany Clague

Bethany Clague's remarkable two lap feat did contain the odd moment of humour and I'd like to share with you one gem which I heard from Elizabeth Corran:

As most of you will probably be aware by now, towards the end of the second circuit, she was becoming really tired and even hallucinating. She was well supported over the final few miles by her family and close friends but really pretty much 'out of it.'

However, travelling along the promenade, she passed the bottom of Mona Drive (where the Welbeck Hotel is situated) and suddenly chimed, 'That Michael George is going to owe me alot of money,' before continuing for her final few metres.

I wasn't sure that she could definitely achieve her goal especially with the weather as vicious as it was but I am truly amazed at her tenacity.

Regarding the recent post on the 'Forum' by one of her back-up team, though I think the organising committee were very helpful towards Bethany on what was, let's face it quite a perilous attempt for which they no doubt would have received criticism had it not gone according to plan with Bethany arriving back in one piece.

She received no end of publicity through them to help with her charity, The Hyperbaric Chamber, yet they would have been within their right to wash their hands of what could have been a dangerous distraction to their main event.

I think by popular demand and with great sense, she was also given a platform to speak on the night of the presentation and I thought that she did receive something from Manx Telecom.

To summarise, let's all applaud Bethany's fantastic endurance and athleticism in what was a magnificent performance that most us could only marvel at and wouldn't dare attempt. That having been said, I think that anyone else should be actively discouraged from trying to follow in her footsteps especially during the race. The next person may want to do four laps or do it with a leg tied to their friend's and it may become a bit of a circus with the additional worry that the they might not be so brilliantly prepared both mentally and physically as Bethany.

I really hope that Bethany earns thousands of pounds for The Hyperbaric Chamber as she deserves to and I it think it may be their place rather than Manx Harriers (who are another non profit making organisation) to recognise the achievement with an award.

In Praise of The Ogre

Nigel & Mark Clague in the London Marathon 2008.(Pic by Margaid Gosschalk)

I ended my last posting in a bit of a hurry and re-reading it I may have given the impression that my support, Nigel Armstrong is a mean, sadistic bastard with a savage mean streak that only ogres or say er.......dentists may possess.

Nothing could be further from the truth. He's a fantastic bloke and there are few more genuine chaps in athletics and in his defence, he was only following team orders (wasn't that what they said at Nuremburg?)

So I must publicly thank Nigel, Emma and Mark Clague because without them, there's no way I'd have even been out there, never mind finishing 4th.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

I wasn't Careful What I Wished For!

Well done to all of you who competed this year in the worst ever conditions (or so I am led to believe.) As I have not stopped saying all week, the sensible ones stopped at Rushen and to even reach the top of the 'Sloc' in that foul weather, was a major achievement in my opinion. If it was tough for the walkers, at least we were on the move. We should all take our hats off and bow to the marshals and officials who stayed at their posts when desertion would have led not even the hardest of hearts to call for their execution.

That 122 competitors finished, I thought was remarkable and the list of superb performances would be too long to type out here but I should mention Jock, Robbie and Maurice as they all trounced me, Sue Biggart who I I think would have beaten me and even threatened Maurice's third place had she not valiantly gone for the record. My own team mate, Dave Mackey was the fastest first time finisher and Marie Jackson with whom I did much of my training before I lost my momentum, somehow made it into 16th place and was surely the lightest finisher in the top twenty and perhaps in the race.

For me, everything was going perfectly well and according to plan. At the bottom of Ballakillowey, I was only about a hundred yards behind Jock and feeling in great form. Even at the top of that most difficult climb, I was still within two minutes of him despite not feeling that I had not put a great deal of effort into the ascent. I did drop back slightly further on the approach to the bottom of the Sloc but I could still see Sean already high up, Robbie at the base and Jock still within striking distance.

When I turned the corner, I did begin to struggle but I still was positive, thinking everyone else would be in the same boat. It was when the Sloc began to even out into a gentle hill that I should have regained my technique and pressed on but the strength just wasn't there and every time I tried to move up into my racing form, the wind would blow me off and I'd have to stroll along for a while and then begin again.

By the time I'd made it to the Round Table, I felt dreadful. The pain in my groin that I'd taken time off training trying to fix returned and my back was hurting. To ensure I felt thoroughly miserable, I was now 6 minutes behind Jock with Sue catching me fast.

Even on the downhill sections, I couldn't find my rhythm and it was chastening coming into Dalby, thinking I was really starting to motor when Sue overtook me! This is a tribute to the way she has concentrated on the technical aspects over the winter but at the time didn't make me feel any happier.

The excuses started to infiltrate my mind and I had more or less decided that I was going to quit at Peel. My back up, Nigel Armstrong was less than sympathetic, lets face it only a week earlier he'd ran two Marathons uphill and assured me despite my protestations it was too early for one, that this was just a bad patch and I'd come through soon.

Tactics now became essential. Not the ones that I should have been working on i.e. how to get back in the race but how could I convince Nigel that I needed to give up and go home. True romantic that he is, he'd met a young lady triathlete on his Comrades Marathon in South Africa and invited her to the Island to spend a weekend of love, watching a wimp like me, in the pouring rain and howling wind try to yellow belly my way out of the Parish. Surely, he'd just take the opportunity to whisk her off to a quiet warm restaurant and ply her with wine before making his advances. Not a bit of it! He was staying out there, so was she and that meant me too!

My one last clutch at the swinging straw was the 5,000m I'd been invited to walk at in Birmingham. I was going to save myself by retiring at German, so I'd be capable of recording a good time at the U.K. Athletics meeting. Nigel gave that short shrift too, reminding me what I'd been training for all this time.

The only thing I could do, my devious little mind concluded was throw in the towel at Patrick and then Nigel wouldn't find out until later! The only thing was that there was no nice hot car, steaming cup of tea or nice warm pub there and before I knew it, I'd been dibbed and off I went.

By the time I reached Ballaugh, I'd recovered somewhat and was quite amazed to hear that Jock had overtaken Robbie and despite all my travails, I was only about 18 minutes behind the latter man. Finally, I overtook Maurice and had Sue within about 20m on the approach to Jurby.

Remember early in this series, I told you that I was careful what I wished for? This time I'd told Nigel that he had to bully me into taking food and whilst also giving great encouragement on my progress, he was making certain that I ate what he was giving me. Unfortunately, some months previously, I had bought a pack of energy food where you don't get to pick what the flavours are. Unfortunately, one of the things it contained was a banana flavoured bar and me being me, instead of making sure it got the full treatment in the waste disposal or incinerator left it in the bottom of my bag and half of it had now been supplied to me and was sitting in my hand. Agonisingly slowly, I nibbled it until I was left with the tiniest piece. Absolutely disgusting but finally I disappeared that last morsel....for all of two seconds. My party piece was back and I threw up three times, losing all that hard fought ground in the process. Despite the diuralyte and whatever else Nigel gave me, about half an hour later ,I had another big slump in energy levels caused by the vomiting.

Once again though I was again on the up and by the top of Bride Hill, when faced by the race walker's paradise which is the long gentle slope down to Andreas, I was really able to power past Maurice and catch Sue who had been about 200m in front. By now, we were really paddling in the huge puddles, Sue trying to navigate between them with me just following due to the lack of wipers on my specs.

More good news. Robbie was down to 12 minutes in front by Sulby Bridge and with Sean already in retirement, I was feeling confident of being able to catch him up and perhaps even exert some pressure on Jock.

With Sue just in front of me, we were fairly powering into Ramsey, yet just as everything was feeling fine, sickness hit me once again and I was doubled over four times on the way into Parliament Square. Nigel, who had been almost everpresent had gone for provisions and when I found Mark Clague who was acting as deputy, he had none of the rehydration stuff.

After that any thoughts I had of the win were finished. The timing was bad but I'm not sure whether I was in good enough shape to have challenged anyway. The whole of the walk down the East Coast was horrible and I think quite dangerous as well with visibility very poor.

Once again, I was searching for any excuse not to complete the job and I was trying to think of a way to escape. To my mind Sue was nearly as tired and not moving with any of her earlier zeal and I was on the verge of asking Ray Pitts (Sue Biggart's support) to call the Control to see if he could get the race stopped and offer to share third prize, when Maurice stormed past us as though we weren't moving and I had to forget about my ghastly double dealing to try and catch him. Although, I was able to open a gap I was able to maintain to Sue, I have to give Maurice the credit he deserves and there was no way I could catch him.

I have to say that by the time I finished, I was just glad to have completed the course. Definitely, never again!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Jock Waddington is Brilliant

I only have a few minutes, so I will probably write a more detailed account of my race a little later.

Sean Hands and Robbie Callister have already shown what great sportsmen they are in victory and defeat and I really admire the two of them but I really am thrilled that Jock won the Parish Walk (although obviously I would have preferred it to be me.)

Jock and I started the winter leagues at around the same time and he is always a true gentleman. I've been telling anyone who'd listen and many more who wouldn't that I felt he had a real chance this year.

As detailed in Murray's earlier feature on him, Jock also puts plenty back into athletics, can often be seen marshalling at events in which he isn't taking part and is a member of the IOMVAC Vets committee.

He and his wife Terri are always helpful to other competitors and I'll never forget the soup they gave me in the 100 mile race.

In short, it couldn't happen to a nicer bloke. Actually that's not true. A nicer bloke couldn't have made it happen. Oh well. That sounds like a load of bolocks but you know what I mean: He deserves it for all the hard work he put in.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Just Do it!

Well Blogophiles, this is it. The next time I blog it will be from cloud 99 or from under a cloud and most of you will be feeling extremely sore, yet I hope we will have the satisfaction of having achieved our goals.

I have been planning to write this preview for a long time but typically have left it until the very last minute. Many times, I have mulled over what I would write and the phrases I would use. One of them was going to be: 'It's a long time since I actually managed to get a long distance walk right.' However, the truth is that having thought about this, I never have. All my 'ultra' walks have been beset by problems and I have never quite managed the 'even effort' which we all should aim for. Last year, despite finishing third was probably the worst ever, when my support crew came so close to 'Throwing in the towel' and calling for an ambulance when due to dehydration and failing with my feeding, I became very disorientated and almost collapsed at Andreas. They almost caught my 'meltdown' on camera as I was just about to 'hit the wall' but was saved by my back-up Nigel Armstrong who was ironically described on the commentary as 'A judge giving me a warning.'

That is one thing that I would like to clear up once and for all. The fact is that I was spoken to at Dalby Mountain by Graham Young, the chief judge and he said, 'You aremaking contact (i.e. totally legal) but I'm going to warn you unofficially to be very careful and make sure you get in a good long stride when you go down 'Glen Rushen.'' And then he watched me nearly every step of the way for about 6 miles.

There was another period towards Lonan when apparently 'Race Control' received a complaint about my walking from person unknown and I was told by someone in a marshal's top to 'Watch my walking' as I approached the church UPHILL! This could have put me off my stride but I was fortunate enough to have had Marie Jackson, an experienced racewalker and also a judge as the other member of my support team and with her encouragement was able to have confidence in my technique. That said, I was still unable to catch Ray Pitts.

Before I step down from the 'Dock/Witness Stand, Soapbox,' I would also like to point out that I have since competed in 'A' standard* races in Holland, England and in front of our own 'International Judge,' Steve Taylor and have not yet been even close to being disqualified. You should see me trying to type while gripping the desk for all its worth.

I hope you haven't fallen asleep before I actually came around to my thoughts on the race itself. Once again my opinion has changed as we approached the big day. A few months ago, I was beginning to see the challenge as 'just' beating Robbie. Since then Peter Kaneen has entered, Jock Waddington has supplemented his obvious talent with greater fitness and then Sean Hands who I was beginning think was a spent force after his early bath in 2007 and his subsequent non-appearance at any of the winter races has obviously put a lot more work in this year. His relaxed and confident manner in Murry's interview had precisely the opposite effect on me.

In some ways, I wonder if we can draw an analogy between Sean and a boxer. 'They never come back' was the old saying and there must be a similar fear about putting your body through it again after a couple of years absence. However, I believe he has the temperament to overcome this and I now see him as the 'favourite' to accomplish a repeat performance of his 2006 triumph. One man whose mental or physical strength can never be questioned is Robbie Callister and while I do not foresee him ever going much faster than he has already due to the limitations of his style, whoever is challenging him knows that they have to put in a really exceptional performance to beat him.

My gut feeling is that even if Peter Kaneen crosses the start line, he doesn't really possess the background fitness this year that is required for the magnitude that is the Parish Walk. He has not been on form even on the shorter distances (though still quicker than me) and I can't really see this translating into victory come Saturday night. One man who has been in top form and peak condition is Jock Waddington who despite being given little chance by other pundits, even being described as a comparitive novice last year in one piece. It is rough justice that he has been laid low with a cold over the past few days, yet he told me last night that his appetite has been unaffected and could he possibly still be a contender, though I suspect that his misfortune may just take the edge off his chances of glory.

Me personally? I've gone through the worrying whether I've concentrated on endurance enough or should I have tapered for my 50k race, thereby losing valuable training opportunities and whether I could have managed a few more decent sessions in the last two months instead of trying to sort my groin injury and am now just looking forward to enjoying the day. My plan is to sit in behind Robbie and Sean, get quite close at Rushen before letting them pull out a bigger lead over the Sloc. Last year I wasn't nearly patient enough and put in a huge effort to reel Robbie in on the approach to Peel and suffered the consequences. If I am able to stay in touch, I imagine, Sean will be hoping to make the break in the area between Kirk Michael and Bride and I will try and join Robbie and keep Sean within striking distance. The idea is to sail into the lead toward the end of the race, me being the fastest man with a chance of victory at that stage, though I know only too well how speed can be blunted by distance and am very well aware of the power and iron will of both of those fine athletes.

I really don't see the point of me trying for third place again and if the opportunity does present itself, I intend to go for victory even if it ends in humiliation but that said; I still have to use my brain and must be aware of many different scenarios that may arise besides the one I have imagined.

My expectation is that battle behind the lead from 5th place in the men's will be between Alan Cowin,Martijn Biesmans, Terry Moffatt, Chris Cale, Andrew Titley and perhaps Michael Shipsides.

Try your best to beat them (but not me.)

If you're walking tomorrow, I wish you the best of luck and if you're spectating, assisting or officiating I hope that you don't get too wet and enjoy a not too exciting race that I win quite easily. Unfortunately, that is more of a dream than an expectation.

Girls On Top

I didn't ever get around to finishing my life story in athletics but I'm sure that the world won't stop turning and that you'll be able to munch on your pre-race breakfast Saturday without worrying that you've missed out on some vital piece of information.

Who do you think is going to win?

Sue Biggart will walk off as the outstanding favourite in my opinion, as she has gone much quicker in the past than any of the other leading ladies and there is no reason despite her dancing exploits(she recently competed in the Manx Celebrity Come Dancing)o assume that she has not prepared as thoroughly as usual.

There are a couple of dark horses in the race who have the talent to displace Sue but will they have the experience and determination? There is Janice Quirk who was the first woman in the End to End and who had a splendid debut finish in last year's event with a superb 19.01 but the one lady in my opinion who is in with a real chance and she won't thank me for shouting it form the rooftops is Marie Jackson.

Marie finished in 2000 in just over 20 hours I think but at that time she was yet to develop the style that has made her the most consistant manx racewalker at most distances(don't mention 5k to her) over the last five years or so. She won the 'End to End' on the old east course and last year won silver (individiual) and gold(team) medals in the World Masters 20k. Before that I wouldn't have given her much hope in the Parish Walk but such achievement really bolstered her confidence and she went on to win the National 50k title in april this year.

Most eagerly anticipated sporting battles contain a contrast between the athletes involved and this is no exception. Sue is strong and very Parish Walk orientated with seven previous finishes in as many years and apart from last year each one quicker than the previous. Although very much a one event specialist, she also came home second lady in the National 100 miles held at N.S.C. in 2006 (lapping me at least once in the process.) Marie by comparison though slight in stature is very steely but the other major difference, despite Sue trying very hard to improve over the winter is that Marie posesses an excellent racewalking technique and therefore should move much more economically.

What I have written above is possibly a little disrespectful to Jane Mooney and Alison Brand(did I hear that Ali isn't aiming for a finish this year?) who both put in brilliant performances last year to post 17:26 and 17:31 and should any of the above three not quite realise my expectations, then there's no doubt they'll be right in there.

Roey Crellin, still fastest Manx born woman(17:12) was not quite up to her best in 2007 but if she shows her true ability may just feature, as may Marie Gilbertson or Terri Salmon.

As I remarked at the outset, Sue Biggart is in pole position but this could be the best ever race.

As usual as I say on these previews, if I've missed you off or undersold you, I apologise but just go out there and prove me wrong.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Bring on the Parish Walk Boogie Woogie

The latest news in this constant tale of woe is that Jock Waddington hasn't been too well. Apparently, he was supposed to go to Jools Holland last night but was laid up instead. Hopefully, his indisposition(that spelling doesn't look right but time is precious) is temporary and he'll be fully recovered for Saturday. In fact he probably should have gone to the concert because it was lively enough to wake the dead!

At this rate no one will tell me anything in case it finds its way into my 'Blog,' yet I am like a news hungry beast at the moment and probably ready to fall for any old spoof.

Did anyone else get the text about tapering? No one has owned up to that one as yet.

The latest weather forecast is better than the first which is certainly good for all the officials but temperature is more important for us walkers and a maximum of 16c should just about do the job.

I suppose that should lead on to the tip for the day which I think is to make sure you have head covering if the sun is out, not to mention U.V. protection cream. If it gets to the stage when you are needing to apply the sponges, the best place is to the back of the neck where the cool water will be most effective. Vaseline is also essential for all parts that may chafe, especiallyu in hot or wet conditions and I'm sure I don't need to spell that out everyone, as some of them are more gender specific than others. Some recommend the petroleum jelly for the feet as well, although I have left mine without in recent years as I find my foot blisters from moving within the sock.

Oh well, I'll try and give you my insights on how I think the race will pan out tomorrow but for now I'll have to leave you.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Post no. 74... Where Michael Blogs Instead of Engaging with Henry

I don't know if someone was winding me up but I just received a text purportedly off 'Parish Walk Information,' off a 166--- number basically telling me not to train and rest my weary legs. My guess that its someone from Manx Telecom or high up in the organisation pulling my leg after my earlier rant but 'ITS TROOOE!'

Well each to their own anyway. If Sean, Robbie and Jock fancy doing a couple of 20 milers between now and Saturday, who am I to stop them?

I just heard some more bad news and it seems that Ian Wakely who did so well on the Sarah Killey Memorial race has also had to withdraw due to knee trouble.

The excitement is really starting to grip me now and this afternoon when I was supposed to be rapt by an important meeting of accommodation providers, I could think of little else but the race. Perhaps my mind is actually being more practical and just doing anything to avoid work because I had decided to come home, introduce our 'Henry*' to the carpet before preparing tea and all I have done is read Rich Wild's blog, checked my own for comments before reading Murray's 'Stats' and having a look at mine. I'm afraid that my technical wizardry has come to the fore again though and I'm not really sure what the difference is between, 'Pageloads,' 'Unique Visitors' and 'Returning Visitors.' It sounds simple enough but they don't really seem to add up. Me being more than a bit thick as usual I think.

Luckily, our Terence is away with school at the 'Venture Centre,' this week, so I'm filling my time whiling away the minutes before the 'Big Off' doing a few things i don't usually do. Last night, we took advantage of the weather and went looking for sharks but failed and four extremely playful seals at Peel had to do. Tonight, I'm off to Jools Holland but will have to keep my dancing in check (see above re not over exercising,) then tomorrow, it's 'Blood Brothers.'

Therefore, I shouldn't start climbing the walls before Thursday.

* For those of you of a less than domestic ilk, Henry's the vacuum cleaner.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Will he? Won't he? Will he? Won't he? ..............Oh Who Cares Anyway?

I don't know. I was asked to subtly announce that Mark Hempsall wasn't walking (Hence the title 'Hempsall Out,') bearing in mind that I thought I had an impeccable source (i.e. Conan The Destroyer's mouth) and now he tells me, he's changed his mind! He's 'just' walking to Peel as training for the '100 miles' in Milton Keynes this August. For anyone who thinks he may be pulling a flanker, though, he has promised to back up Dave Mackey from 8pm, so you won't be the only one chasing him with an axe if he continues.

Briefly, I had hoped that the previous paragraph may mean a resurrection of the chances for our team Eminem & Eminem but I have also heard that Matt Haddock has suffered an ankle injury and in the interest of his '100' ambitions will also bow out at German.

More gossip: Peter Kaneen has still not decided whether or not to start the race though in honesty, I really can't see him featuring at the sharp end due to the interruptions in his training this year. However, Beware! Last time he didn't think he'd pass Santon i.e 2003, he went and won it!

I also have it on good authority that Eamon Harkin will be accompanying his daughter, Breeshey who has entered the U21 race, so the top ten will be losing another of its regular inhabitants.

If you add into this the absence of Ray Pitts, Thomas Melvin, Jane Kennaugh (unless she's found another alias,)the aforementioned big dude, there is plenty of scope for new heroes to emerge and I think that the standard this year will be higher than ever.

My favourites to enter the higher echelon for the first time would be Chris Cale, Marie Jackson and Janice Quirk but if you're out there and have put in the effort, the sky's the limit.


Nooooo! Stoooop iit! Stooop! Noooow!!!! It's too Laaate!!!

There's people everywhere walking at full tilt! Stop it now! It's too late!

I hope that got your attention!

If you're still training now the only thing you're going to improve is your chances of being injured and being knackered on the day!

The idea this week if you can't contemplate the thought of no exercise after all these months of hard work is to warm up as if you were about to do a major training session and then stop. This will keep your body loose and perhaps lessen the possibility of your brain melting down but any hard work this week will be counter productive.

If you haven't already made your lists up and done the shopping, write down everything that you could conceivably need. Don't forget clothes for the end, vaseline, spare everything including socks and shoes, a luminous vest to pin your number on to so that you can change quickly in varying weather conditions, loads of food, bananas, water, sports drinks, a head torch, new feet and a second brain that you can't unprogram that says, 'Never do this again!'

I hope to write more tomorrow.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Little Islander

Here's a dilemma for you. Nine days before the biggest race of my life to date, I received an invitation to compete at the UK Athletics Championships and Team GB Trials in the 5k track racewalk (you may remember that Peter Kaneen won bronze last year.)

This would give me the opportunity to compete on the same stage as some of the biggest names in British Athletics and even any friends or family that I take with me have to pay, from £12 per ticket.

So, I here you ask: What's the dilemma? It's only three weeks after the Parish Walk and I'm sure I won't be able to do myself justice with 85 miles in my legs. Do I give up what could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to taste life at the top of the UK table for what is a provincial ramble around the Isle of Man at an unrecognised distance? No comparison can be made between the events and in honesty this could be my once in a lifetime opportunity to win our own 'Blue Riband' race when you think of how increasingly competitive it is becoming. So there's little contest in my mind. This could be my 'Parish Walk' whereas 5k is my least favourite distance (I'm ranked 14th in the UK as opposed to 12th at 10k, 9th at 20k and 4th at 50k) and I have little chance of finishing on the same lap as the winner even at my best.

I'll just have to hope that at 42 years of age, I can continue to improve and they'll give me another shot at stardom after turning them down this time.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Scaring the Spectators

Last Wednesday's race was also a bit of a walking striptease for me:

Immediately prior to the start, I decided that the spetacles had to go. As usual, my relationship with my 'Garmin' sports watch was fraught, hampered this time not by my inability to work it properly but because I didn't start it and in a fit of pique, threw £160 worth of gadgetry at the assembled officials.

By the time the next lap came round, my hat which was atop my scone mainly to keep the glasses dry that I wasn't wearing was the next item to be jettisoned and as by now, I didn't it would seeem have much more to take off, the few spectators were becoming visibly peturbed.

They needn't have worried. The 'Breath-rite' nasal strip that Peter Kaneen had kindly supplied me with succumbed to the damp in the air and came off one side of my nose. I'm not sure they look too 'cool' at the best of times but standing like an antenna, it definitely had to go.

The next lap there was a 'frisson' in the air as the onlookers quaked in their boots but despite threatening to remove my shorts, I had nothing left to give. Pretty much describes my walk as well.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Two Laps of the Parish Walk Course? Just Watch Bethany Go!

Just in case anybody was wondering what I was referring to re. Bethany Clague, I suggest you take a look at her website where amongst all her other heroic deeds, she also details how she will be attempting to do TWO laps of the Parish Walk Course this year. The picture above is from the Blackpool 1/2 Marathon where she recently set a PB

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Great Balls a Fire

I remounted the horse last Wednesday in the 10k track walk which was quite poorly supported. Despite the low number of walkers, it was good to see Neil Brogan and Matthew Betteridge make their debuts on the track and excellent to witness two PBs from Vinny Lynch (57:29) and even more notably, Lauren Whelan who posted a superb 56:17.

It's really tough, 25 laps of the track and at this time of year, I struggle a little with 'exercise induced asthma' despite the use of an inhaler. Unfortunately, I was unable to exert any pressure on the winner, Peter Kaneen, though I have to say I was pleased to roll in less than a minute behind him, in a time under 50 minutes, despite not really training for the event.

In the run there were some excellent performances, too, notably from the winner, Martin Malone, Andy Fox and webmeister, Murray Lambden who announced his return to form despite not being tactically at his best (see his own Blog.)

It was also good to note, Mike Garrett finishing in one piece and member of my back-up team, Mark Clague put a decent display in his first attempt on the track, although I am sure there is more to come from him.

Surprise of the night? Has to be Bethany Clague missing the walk before competing in the run. Is she going soft?

It was also pleasing not to have suffered any reaction from my groin injury, though it did present me with another 'Do' 'Don't' for you. If your fitness adviser (Mark Hempsall in this case) recommends the use of ,'Deep Heat,' before a race, be careful where and how you rub it in. Due to the location of my problem, it certainly gave me a very interesting few minutes, hence the title of this post.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Don't Forget 10k Track Walk & Run at the N.S.C. Tomorrow

Referring to young Matthew's comments on my last posting, how about we now call ourselves the '3FM (the F accounts for Mackey's swearing, then there's Matt, Mike & Mac) Onchan Combi Rejects?' I reckon a sponsorship deal from the radio station could contribute towards Dave's next BMW and then all I need to do now is to contact Elizabeth Corran to tell her to white out 1600 Eminem & Eminem's and replace them with our new tongue tripping handle before the programmes are sent out.

If I could stop enjoying myself long enough, despondency would be setting in, as the only training I have done is the aforementioned ill-fated hill session. While my spy network informs me that Sean & Jock are still hard at it, the only thing I seem to be getting harder at is the the TT festival. My team captain, Dave Mackey has long since foresworn the alcohol whereas I actually seem to be imbibing more and with a trip on the Karina to see the fireworks planned for tomorrow, followed by dinner on Thursday with some of our biker guests, the forecast for the next few days is 'Wet to Very Wet' (and that's not the weather.)

Perhaps I'm just not cut out for the dedication required to win this Parish thing. Do you think they could move it forwards a few weeks next year just for me?

On a more positive note, I do intend to race tomorrow night, before I set sail on board that mighty vessel and I think all you bloggophiles should blow away the TT cobwebs with a good blast at 10k around the track. Signing on at N.S.C. from 6pm with the start at 6.30pm tomorrow. If you think you would gain more from a run (Robbie C competed last year) signing on is at 7:15pm with the gun firing at approximately 7:45.

Regarding the picture on the front of Manx Athletics, it is a coincidence that we (The Welbeck) have given John Crellin a little assistance for many years and that he was just about to be overtaken by Chris McGahan, now domiciled in Peel, to whom we also chip in with a little bit of sponsorship.

I was party to the conversation with former sprinter, Nicola Dixon and apparently, she has a Newspaper cutting buried somewhere with the headline: 'Fastest Girl on the Island.' She remains pretty nippy when it comes to the race to the bar for the Guinness.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Hempsall Out, Cowin in Great Form and Oops I've Done It Again!

Having been initially concerned that I wouldn't have enough material to fill a 'Blog,' now I am more worried that I won't have time to complete all the things I intend to include. With this site being launched so early, late last year, my plan was to follow the rough template set by last year's 'Bloggers,' Dave, Steve and Mark (Mark, I promise there is no insult intended by putting you last in that group of three) by posting roughly once per week. I suppose you could say I've gone for quantity rather than quality.

Unfortunately, today's 'Post' is yet another example of me leading by bad example. The idea for Wednesday was to walk a steady hour and a half, then follow it up with a fast 5 miles on Thursday.

Today's lesson: This close to a big race, don't try anything radical or new.

Rapidly running out of the usual suspects that I walk with as they either weren't coming out to play or had already trained, I telephoned Mark Hempsall who I usually try to avoid midweek as he does all these mad hill sessiony things. However, on this occasion as I didn't fancy being 'Billy No Mates,' I decided to give it a blast.

Alan Cowin, was also in the company and we set off to climb the Saddlestone Mountains. I really intend to rest on the uphill sections of the course, so although I have included many, many inclines in my training which I have ascended at a much swifter pace than I will be on the day (lets face it we can hardly avoid them over here) I have shied away from specifically targeting hills as part of my programme.

As I mentioned previously, the original plan was for a fairly easy walk and therefore, I wasn't trying to mix it with the lads on the first four reps and they showed me two clean pairs of heels. However, as the fifth materialised and it was longer and less steep than the initial ones, the competitive juices had began to flow and I couldn't resist 'Giving it a blast!'

Mark who in the past I have labelled, 'Conan the Destroyer' because of his Arnold Schwarzenegger physique and aggressive power walking technique, is a formidable opponent at anything but the hills are his particular domain. Given the gentle rise on this one, though, I just about managed to hold him off.

Despite knowing earlier in my own mind that I would finish after one round, we went back to 'Copse Hill,' our first one. I was now, fancying myself to beat Mark up a steeper incline especially as he has laid off walking training since the 'Sarah Killey,' only cycling some 2 to 300 miles a week. We had a great battle but Mark, switching from 'Arnie' to 'Groucho,'(You have to see it to believe it) emerged the victor by about 3 to 4 yards.

And then, they were doing, 'The Fun Part' i.e. walking backwards upwards which apparently is very good for strengthening the 'quads.'

What is wasn't good for though, was my long standing groin injury which I finally thought I'd cured (by specific groin strengthening and core strengthening excercises given to me by the aforementioned Mr Hempsall) and only after about 40 or 50m, it was hurting once again and now I'm sidelined for another few days to try and fix it.

Incidentally, there is no truth to the scurrilous rumour that Mark deliberately sabotaged me so that he could make more money putting me back together again. However, what is true is that unfortunately, he has decided to withdraw from this year's race. As I alluded to earlier, he hasn't properly recovered from what he thinks is a stress fracture he sustained during his epic battle with Jock Waddington and though there seemed little evidence to me that he was anything but 100% fit as he disappeared into the distance the other night, he doesn't feel confident that it will hold out for the full 85 miles.

The better news is that he has generously agreed to support erstwhile team member, and captain, Dave Mackey into the wee small hours. One question for Dave though: Will we now be called, Eminem & Em now that we are missing an 'M?' Suggestions for new name in the comments, please.

Bob Corrin's recent question on Manx Athletics Forum opened a discussion about seedings which Murray has followed up on his blog. I don't quite know how I have been placed in front of Peter Kaneen. One who seems to have slipped under the 'Planter's' (of seeds getit?) radar is Alan Cowin who has been training for this event for the last 16 months or so. The top football referee (he was in charge for this year's F.A.Cup Final) is in great shape after his 3rd place in the 'Seven Stations.' He has entered the Parish five times previously, finishing 10th on his 4th attempt in 2004 in 18:07, following that up with 16:39 and 6th place in 2006. He is unbeaten against me in all the four races we have both competed in, yet I only actually met him earlier this year. Of course whatever number is on his vest won't affect his performance but I have a sneaking suspicion he will once again be in that top ten belying his lowly seeding of 151.

So to recap, I'm cursing my stupidity because I went and did something very out of the ordinary in the lead up to the race. This is the time to develop ultra conservatism. Try not to do anything out of the ordinary over the next few weeks and scale down your training. I seem to have got away with it this time but I won't be doing that again.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Training at the Bowl. Or was it the Bowel?

Well Bloggophiles! If you haven't done the training by now, it's really too late to start going out walking 20 miles.

We are now into 'The Taper,' where you start knocking down the miles and it is also a good idea to spend 2 to 3 hour sessions, at your intended Parish pace, perhaps practising taking food and drinks on board.

Shorter walks at a faster pace will also do you no harm.

If you've just noticed the date on the calender and think you've totally blown it by not doing any preparation at all, don't panic, you still have time to work on conditioning which could involve runs and/or walking quickly but nothing for too long or you will be knackered come the big day. It's certainly not the recommended way to go and possibly a little dangerous if you intend to go the full distance but some have managed pretty amazing feats with little prior work.

Training over TT week can be difficult but I'm sure there are plenty of places where the bikes rarely get to and there's always the 'Bowl,' not forgetting that next week (Wednesday I think) there is a rare opportunity to compete in a 10k track race.

I'm always conscious that this is a blog that could be read by all the family and also by those of less than strong constitution who've just eaten but feel I would be failing you loyal bloggies, especially race newcomers if I didn't mention it. Get into the habit of visiting the toilet first thing in the morning and filling it. Too much information, I know but holding your cheeks together while trying to ascend the 'Sloc' is not where your concentration should be aimed at. Keep your focus on the bum in front!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Jocked Off

The weather may have put a few people off but I would like to thank Mo Cox for coming to watch Jock Waddington, Maurice Bellando and me walking downhill a few times last night and then for judging in the 5k race that followed.

There was a small but good quality field including Vinny Lynch, Dave Mackey, Carl Wild, Brian Brough, James Green, John Robinson, juniors Hannah Kelly walking 2k, Lauren Whelan and Jessica Isherwood 3k.

I think it would be fair to say that in the absence of Peter Kaneen (well he was there but not racing,) I started the race favourite. Some people have questioned whether he trains quite enough but since his superb joint win in the Sarah Killey Memorial, Jock Waddington has put in a 20 miler and two 11 mile walks in every week.

We were locked together in battle from the start with Jock pulling out a slight lead over the first 2k with Vinny and Dave vying for the third spot. By the fourth k, I decided to take Jock on but was unable to break away and over the final 500m, he really turned the screw and left me trailing in his wake, winning by 12 seconds in an impressive time of 23 minutes 39 seconds.

Marie Jackson said it was the first time she'd ever seen him not look like he was out walking the dog.

Dave Mackey in his first 5k race, couldn't stay with Vinny Lynch who also recorded his fastest ever time. Dave agonisingly missed out on breaking 30 minutes by just 15 seconds. They were followed by John Robinson, junior & 5k debutant, James Green and Carl Wild. Brian Brough walked on gamely despite Mo pinching the course marking cone on him, being saved by the famous graffiti artist Allan 'Leapy Lee' Callow who had drawn little yellow arrows on the road.

Many thanks to Bridget & Judy who seem to contribute so much that they should be on 'overtime' money, Allan Callow, Elizabeth Corran and Steve Taylor.

Despite being beaten, I was very pleased to set my new P.B., a full 13 seconds quicker than I managed in this race last year. I have recently described Jock as a 'Coming Man' and he certainly came last night. Perhaps if the survey was run again today, he might gain a little more than 10% of the votes and I certainly can't see him finishing behind 'Others' again.

So, I turned up for my two dates last night but another bloke walked off with my prize.

I'd Love to Meet You for a Date Tonight, Maybe Two

Another hurried 'Post' I'm afraid but things are quite frantic.

Tonight as I mentioned on the 'Forum,' yesterday, Maureen Cox has kindly agreed to help me and anyone else who would care to turn up by making sure that our downhill walking actions comply with the rules.

For anyone who has designs on a top ten placing, I reckon it is very important as 'Time Penalties' are to be used for the first time for walkers breaking contact with the ground and hard earned time gained could be very easily added.

Whatever style you use to propel yourself, it is best to be able to walk with confidence, though it won't actually be Mo judging on the day it is useful to know what the officials are looking for and at.

The session will start at approximately 17:45 on the Marine Drive which has some fairly decent hills on the closed section. If you want any further information or know where exactly to meet, call me on 491695.

Immediately following is the Open 5K walking race on the TT Access Road which is a good short, sharp test and the second last race as far as I am aware before 'P Day.' Signing on for this 'FREE' race is at the Manx Harriers Clubhouse

I hope to see as many of you as possible this evening at either or both events.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Abducted by Aliens

Greetings Blogophiles!

I couldn't keep this from you a moment longer:

The key has returned! Apparently it spent the last 10 days on top of a beer barrel with another keg on top of it. Vaguely, I seem to remember breaking the plastic covering on a case of cider with it. I was so close to giving up and calling the vehicle recovery firm, only the reluctance (some would call it stubborness) to break into my hard earned cash prevented me from doing so.

A lesson has been learned though and I will have to take it to the dealers to have another couple of spares programmed whatever the cost.

On the walking front, I only trained(a euphemism for going to pick up the car after a boozy night) for 25 minutes on Sunday. On Monday, I attempted to play football extremely badly even by my standard and followed that up by doing 6 x 500m with Lauren Whelan.

As I hadn't had a day off this week, today after working breakfast, Irene and I did the Baldwin Valley loop, though it was a bit of a struggle for her as she is struggling to recover from a hip injury.

Don't forget to turn up on Thursday night for the 5k TT Access Road Race, signing on at the Manx Harriers Clubhouse from 18:30.

I wonder was that key really there all that time or are there darker forces at play?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Well Done Terence

Congratulations to my son Terence who by virtue of some rather generous handicapping, not to mention a fine run, managed to win the 2nd round of the Dave Phillips two lap race by a staggering 4 minutes and 23 seconds!

He'd better enjoy it while it lasts because I can see him starting the next one quite a little bit later.

Greetings To Elizabeth and Matthew in WebSurfers Paradise

You know, apart from other obvious reasons, such as guilt and betrayal etc., I would never have an affair for the simple reason that by some quirk of fate, I'd immediately be caught.

There am I thinking that I'm totally safe in my own personal 'Garden Shed,' otherwise known as 'Michael's Parish Blog,' when all of a sudden, Mrs. George announces over lunch, 'I read about the Marathon in your blog the other day,' I actually blushed like someone found with their trousers round their ankles!

It turns out that Elizabeth and Matthew, our eldest kids who've gone all antipodean on us were looking for my 'Blog,' for a taste of home. Irene couldn't remember off the top of her head exactly where it was in Murray's web of intrigue and actually ended up reading my latest posting after searching for the whereabouts of my ramblings. It's only the second one she's looked at since I started way back in December and there am I boasting about me being safely in a wife-free zone!

However, I reckon lightning couldn't possibly strike twice, so if you are logging on and indulging in Websurfers Paradise, how about looking to see if there are any races on Down Under over Christmas when we come to see you? And don't tell, Mum!

It's quite incredible that anyone will be able to follow the race from all the way down there in Australia and I'm going to put Matt's text no. down as one of my two mobiles to make sure they know what's going whether they're too busy enjoying themselves or not.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Racewalk Blog? More of a Ramble Really

Back to the present for now and I was very pleased on Thursday to put in my first proper 'pace' session for about 5 to 6 weeks as firstly, I was tapering for the 50k race and then in recovery afterwards.

It's an injury waiting to happen if you try to come back too soon to hard training after a hard race or a long practice walk.

The task I was set included 12 x 500m in 2 minutes 20 seconds with 50m strolling to try and rest my wheezing lungs. I couldn't quite ascertain how to work out the 50m distance, so using the hot weather as a convenient excuse, I extended my mid sprint break to 100m. If you're wondering how I know when I've travelled 100m, there are yellow paint splodges all around the perimeter track at the N.S.C.

The secret to achieving the maximum benefit from interval training for walking and running is to ensure you don't start too fast and are still able to maintain the speed until your last rep. This is excellent for improving your conditioning and most endurance athletes would agree that this method of improving your pace is essential as part of your build up to a long distance event.

Fortunately, I managed to keep to my targets and was even able to cut my last one down to 2:13.

I then used Allan Callow's Thursday evening training session to warm down with the aim of reducing the lactic acids from the muscles for the following day.

This last tactic (lactic tactic?) was fairly successful, so yesterday (Friday,) I walked in a roundabout way to Kaneen's Garage in Union Mills to collect my mother's car which had been in for service. Another recommended idea is to practise walking in the way that you will on the big day and therefore I tried to maintain a steady 10.5 minute mile. Don't forget to test which foods will suit you and to try and work out a basic menu for 21st June. As with any predeterminations, don't be afraid to change according to the conditions or because its not working but there is nothing wrong with having a loose framework for your support crew.

Dave Mackey has asked on the 'Forum,' about 'carb-loading' and it's possible you could receive a different answer from everyone you ask.

Personally, I try and follow the method taught to me by Nigel Armstrong and this is largely corroborated by the Australian Institute of Sport website. Over a five day period, I greatly reduce the protein from my diet, not eating meat nor much at all in the way of fatty foods. A common mistake is to actually pig out on carbohydrates but the idea is just to replace protein with them to increase the amount of glycogen in the muscles.

As you know the scientists are always changing their minds but interestingly, last year when I read the AIS information, they were stating that you can only effectively 'carb-load,' four times a year and that there was no evidence that ladies gain any benefit from using it.

Making sure that iron levels are correct was given great importance especially for females.

Oh well, that's the conclusion of today's ramble. I hope it's useful to somebody but bear in mind that I'm not a coach, not qualified in sports nutrition and am prone to getting things very wrong in races.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

My Final Run

So Bloggies, back to 2006.

The Flora London Marathon is a great experience and I would urge anyone to have a go at least once in their lifetimes.

We travelled on the Friday to London City Airport which is in itself enjoyable as we had a tour around the capital in the air before landing.

The original deal was that if Irene and I ran the Marathon, then when we returned we would both learn to dance. Fortunately, for me and possibly her own toes, she has never actually held me to that.

The airport is also very close to the place where you sign on and on the Friday when we travelled it wasn't too hectic in the exhibition centre.

In my opinion, the most difficult aspects of travelling away for events are managing to eat properly, particularly if you are carb-loading, being on holiday and not having loads to drink and trying to relax and do nothing, especially if your hotel room is not that large or comfortable.

The Regent Palace is perfectly located for the FLM, being very handy for the Tube and close to the finish. In addition, they provide pasta meals specifically for the athletes, the rates are reasonable but in honesty, the rooms are quite small and not ideal for spending lots of time in.

When you are accepted for the FLM, you get advice by the bucketload and one piece is to remember what you are there for and not to get too much sightseeing in the day before. Saturday was a lovely day, so we just went for a wander down to the 'Mall' to see the finish and then on to the next park, then the next park, then the next park and before you knew it, we had been walking for two and a half hours, were knackered, starving hungry and thirsty. Yep we'd broken just about every rule in pre-marathon preparation.

As usual my planning also reached farcical levels. The day before I left the Island, I finally forked out to buy a stopwatch, so I wouldn't have to carry my mobile phone as I'd become famous for doing in races by this time, only to unpack it in London to discover my purchase was actually a heart monitor. I'd also decided to look for a bumbag or pouch to carry my gels in but we just didn't find one in the shops that we passed.

The day of the race, the fine weather had disappeared and there was a steady drizzle that hadn't been included in the original forecast. For the London Marathon, there are three different starts, so therefore Irene and I had to part company in Black.

The atmosphere is one of eager anticipation and fortunately having brought a black binbag to wear before the race, I was in good spirits and not too cold. For the first time, I was running a long race without pockets in my shorts, so now my failure to acquire something to contain my food became a major worry.

I decided to pop them into the waistband of my Manx Harriers kit as I'd also neglected to get some sticky tape or plasters. The FLM is started in groups determined by the time you mark down on your entry form, so the beginning was a little bit like the PW because you can't get a decent run and in my case this was exacerbated by the fact the all the celebrities were set off in front of me.

Of course, my planned first mile of 6:50 was a minute slower and therefore I panicked and then put in a couple of quick ones after that managing to lose all but one of my gels.

I actually remember very little of where I was during the race but I supppose the features that really stood out were the pubs and the people, all braving absolutely abominable weather. Live bands were creating a cacophony of sound which at times overlapped. There's that chef, I heard at one stage and briefly wondered how they knew I used to cook before realising I was passing Gordon Ramsey.

When the three starts came together, I saw Andy Gosnell one of our local runners and former top parish competitor and it was a great boost to see Manxies at the side of the road such as Gary Ashe, Nigel Armstrong's mum and John Rogers.

All the kids want to slap your hand as you go past and everyone shouts the name written on your running vest. Even slower than usual, it was a while before I realised I was the subject of, 'Come On, Manx!' It was an unwanted surprise to pass Murray though who was struggling.

In my previous marathon, I hadn't 'hit the Wall' until 25 miles but this time after 18 miles the extra pace and the dropped gels began to tell and I really suffered for a while. Eventually, I turned on the the Embankment and I had a girl just behind me whom everyone seemed to be shouting for. From somewhere I gathered my strength for one last effort and flew for home. I think it was around here that I overtook Mark Clague and Ed Gumbley before rounding the corner towards Buckingham Palace and racing on the outside of Paul Curphey.

My target of 3 hours was all but gone but my endeavour was still there and I really powered towards the line to miss out by just over a minute. It was really flattering to see recently that my 40k to finish is still in the top ten quickest of locals since about 2002.

Irene without any prior training managed to circulate in 6:02 which I thought was pretty good in the circumstances (I'm not buttering her up; I can say anything I want because she doesn't actually read this rubbish.) I've no time to research this now and I can't recall where I was placed but I was second local behind Nigel Armstrong and beat my P.B. by around 13 minutes. In typical athletic/fisherman style I still consider this as the one that got away and the what ifs are still hanging because it was to be the first and last running race I ever seriously trained for.

Since that day I ditched the two feet off the ground branch of the sport to concentrate on the walking.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Some Key Points

It's a good thing I had the 'Dream Sunday' because Friday and Saturday I had a double recurring nightmare!

The only tenuous link that this story has to do with the Parish Walk, is that it will be a minor miracle if I manage to arrive at the start line, never mind put in the organisation and planning needed for an 85 mile race.

I don't know what it is about me and keys but we've never been comfortable bedfellows which I suppose is handy in some ways as they can hurt when you roll on top of them but has cost me thousands of minutes over the years in searching time, not to mention cash for things like having to call out the autoshield people to retrieve them from inside the car.

Friday morning was pouring down, so I had to pick Irene up to bring her down to work. I stood in the rain, waiting for her to get her things together, then locked the car by remote control and that's the last I (or anyone else so far as I'm aware) saw of the key. It has to be in the Hotel somewhere but over the the ensuing days, I have looked everywhere, including the bins and short of pulling the place apart stone by stone, I've done everything.

Saturday was the third and final time that I have been involved through my son Terence playing hockey in the Manx Youth Games. It is a really tremendous experience, particularly the Olympic Games style opening ceremony which culminates with a mass aerobic warm up before they all disappear off to their respective sports.

My Mother-in-Law also came down to watch but there isn't any seating by the synthetic pitch, so I had what turned out to be a disastrous idea. I went over to find my athletic chums with the intention of blagging a clubhouse key and borrowing a chair as she isn't too good on her feet. Unfortunately, Allan Callow had temporarily disappeared and Bridget had given hers to the Tag Rugby people but Elizabeth Corran's was in her car in the park over by the main n.s.c. building. As instructed, I removed the only key from the compartment in between the two front seats.

Many a time, I've watched Allan struggling to use his old key in the lock, so I wasn't particularly perturbed when it didn't fit perfectly. I fiddled with it a little before eventually managing insertion but it still wouldn't turn. Then, I could get it out! Then yippee, it did start going round! ... and round... and round. The teeth had totally snapped off the spindle and were stuck fast in the eye!

Panic set in and I went back to Elizabeth. The offended key was the wrong one and the correct one was actually in the compartment between the two seats but actually at dashboard height. Well, I pushed and prodded but I couldn't budge the broken one in the slightest. My big fear was that the tag rugby crowd would turn up looking for kit they'd left in the Harriers Clubhouse.

The feeling of panic was growing, so I asked the N.S.C. staff to help me. As you can imagine, they were delighted, right in the middle of probably their busiest day of the year but I managed to persuade them that the Manx Harriers Clubhouse did have something to do with them because I thought that there was kit in there. To his credit, Colin McMullen brought out his super-duper pen knife style tool but still nothing would shift.

Okay, I'd just have to bite the bullet and call out a locksmith:

24 hour Company no.1 : Answerphone

24 hour Company No.2 : 3 locksmiths- one on holiday, two off sick.

Oh Heck! (or words to that effect!) and my poor mother-in-law still waiting for her seat!

Did you ever start something with the best intentions, then really wish you hadn't bothered?

Fortunately for me, Colin now had the bit between his teeth and brought out the heavy artillery i.e. big posh toolkit and he managed to remove the handle, though breaking it in the process. Finally, he was able to push out the broken key part and Elizabeth's correct key turned perfectly.

However, a search of the N.S.C. stores was carried out and there wasn't a spare door handle anywhere, so if anyone reading this is wondering why the Manx Harriers Clubhouse now has a shiny handle, we had to pinch the one off the storeroom door. I have told the chairman and offered to replace it.

So there was at least a happy ending to this part of the story as Irene's, Mum, Irene (and you wonder why I look perpetually confused) got her seat and a cup of tea (left the money by the till.)

The Ford Focus is left where I parked it on Friday. We have a key but it won't turn the engine over and apparently, you need two keys to program a third or you have to pay £4 million pounds to recover the car, then a further £13.6 million to put everything through the computer to create new codes and finally about £45 pound per key for every copy.

The moral of the story: If I come and ask you if I can borrow your key, punch me in the face.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

I Have a Dream!

I had a dream yesterday.

Firstly, I dreamt that I couldn't sleep on my day off, went to the Hotel at 0730 and took the recycling to Nobles Park where I saw Murray Lambden training.

Then I went to Andreas where only five of us had turned up last year for the Manx 20k Championship and in my dream, there were Robbie Callister, Sean Hands, Peter Kaneen, Marie Jackson, Andy Green, Vinnie Lynch, Dave Mackey, Bethany Clague, Alan Kinvig, Ian Wakely, a good scutch of juniors and the ghost of a former top international racewalker who retired ages ago.

As the race got underway, Peter pretty quickly established a lead, then after moaning for a couple of laps about his thighs hurting from his first race walking training session in nearly a year, the now talking ghost broke away from me to try and close the gap on the front man.

Behind us, were Sean Hands, a fast starting Andy Green, Robbie Callister, Vinny Lynch, Marie Jackson and Dave Mackey.

Eventually, the ghost drifted back towards me and indeed, Peter Kaneen had stopped extending his lead and gradually came nearer to us. Disappointingly, Peter stopped after 10k, it is great to have a target in front to try and reel in but the ghost and I were still locked together.

In fact, despite insisting he would definitely 'blow up' during the race and me thinking that he was trying extremely hard just to keep me company, the dream started to turn into a nightmare as the other worldly figure began to push to escape me. Although, I tried at first to stay with him, I decided to let him go and over laps 10 and 11, he managed to forge a lead of some 25m.

Fortunately, this became one of those dreams where you can influence the outcome and with Ken & Theresa(THE COMMENT) Hands cheering me on, Les Brown handing out the drinks and Jock Waddington supplying us with sponges, at the end of the penultimate lap, I started to catch the vision in front and by the back straight, I had overtaken him. Now it was a matter of concentrating, trying to relax while at the same time pushing for all I was worth, scared that he would find some of his former speed to overhaul me in the last few hundred metres. Luckily, I hung on to win a shield that had spent the last 20 years or so ensconced in various Partington attics.

Bethany Clague 9th overall won the ladies race after Marie Jackson pulled out. Andy Green really struggled in the heat but rallied to finish well after Vinny who walked a big P.B. but a minute and a half in front of Dave Mackey. Ian Wakely was next and Allan Kinvig worked very hard bringing up the rear of what was a small but high quality field.

Well I don't seem to have woken up yet but I have posted this blog in case somebody pinches me and I find out that I didn't finish ahead of Steve Partington, Sean Hands and Robbie Callister in the same race in the same day.

Thanks to Elizabeth and Gordon Corran, Judy Morrey, Allan Callow, Dougie Corkill, Paul Jackson, Les Brown, Jock Waddington and Bridget Kaneen for all their efforts on our behalf.

I think I'll dream about the Parish Walk next.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Michael George - 'Aiming for the Top' (Errr, Andreas that is!)

The Blogathon is off!

Unless Murray is coming out of retirement or 'New Mum' makes an unannounced appearance, it looks like you're stuck with me. Richard, the 'First and Earliest Ever Entrant' used the pathetic excuse of an important international conference in Barcelona. The things people will do to get out of walking round Andreas!

That means that your participation is even more important! It would be a great shame if our intrepid team of organisers, judges, coaches, marshals and timekeeper all navigate their way over mountains, through rivers, braving wild animals (well some might have to drive past The Curraghs Wildlife Park) and fierce temperatures (warm and sunny forecast) to find that only 5 people turn up to race like last year.

If 20k isn't long enough for you, you could always walk home afterwards.

I must make a correction because on a previous post, I suggested the signing-on would start at 09:15 but it is in fact not until 09:30.

Personally, I'm not sure how I will perform. I seem to have recovered from the 50k to some extent but I still haven't tried a hard session since then and I do feel very lethargic. If Peter Kaneen is walking, then he must start favourite, though he hasn't been in his usual top form in recent weeks due to a virus of some kind. The door may be ajar for some kind of a surprise but I will need to be at my best to break through it as I have never even got within a minute on previous occasions. That having been said, despite the likely absence of Chris Cale and Jock Waddington, it is possible that someone such as Andy Green could come through and shock both of us.

So come on you Parish Walkers and anyone else out there, come up to Andreas on and make my Sunday!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Join the Blogathon

I don't know if Kerry & Richard are readers of my Blog but I happened to mention that it would be a good idea if we all competed in a race together on Sunday. Mark Hempsall broke off from torturing me for a second and agreed that it would be very interesting to read about the experience from the three different perspectives.

So here's throwing down the gauntlet to my fellow scribes to join in the fun/agony for a walking 'Blogathon.'

I'm not entirely sure whether or not prams are smiled or frowned upon in races but it would give Kerry an experience of competition before the big event, provide an opportunity for Richard to rejoin the fray after a quiet few months racing wise and inform me of just where my body is up to following the rigours of my 50k race.

Remember that walkers of any age or ability are welcome and you can complete 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k, 10k or 20k.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

You Need Hands

I had a great chance to 'take out' one of the opposition's back up team last night. Sean's Mum & Dad were in the Welbeck restaurant to belatedly celebrate his Uncle & Auntie's 50th Wedding Anniversary, along with another uncle & auntie that I hadn't met before.

The Chef was under instruction to administer the strichnine when I had to make a last minute dash to save them. Just like Jenny of 'The Apprentice' fame, I had no qualms about using such underhand tactics but when Mrs. Hands suddenly revealed that she is an avid reader of my 'Blog,' I just had to rescue them!

Seriously, they are a lovely family and they have always given me great encouragement even when I have been in competition with Sean and I would like to add my congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Hands for passing such a milestone. Apparently, they were in an exotic part of the world for the actual date.

Sean's Mum berated me for not updating this more often as she is always checking it but unless you went on-line last night, Mrs. Hands, this is now three posts you have to catch up on!

For those younger readers, the title is an old Max Bygraves song that I think if I am not mistaken was 'covered' in the seventies by the Sex Pistols or someone.

I was nearly right it's actually Malcolm MacLaren singing on 'The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle.' Thought I'd better get that in before the pedants attack.

Come Walk with Me.

To All Walking Dudes!

Don't forget that it's the Manx 20k championships at this Sunday 10am at Andreas. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a good sustained speed session, to improve your conditioning for the big race, to blag lots of free tea and biscuits, not to mention talking up your big day prospects and asking advice or swapping tips with fellow competitors.

Entry only £3 on a good fast course, giving the people of Andreas the chance to have a good laugh at us. Go on! You know you want to give it a go!

See you at the Andreas Parish Hall (from Ramsey straight on at roundabout, from Sulby turn left.) Signing on from 9.15am.

P.S. Don't worry about the judges. They are very helpful, give lots of friendly constructive advice, plenty of prior warnings if you are a bit dodgy and you'll only get dq if you are gaining an unfair advantage by pegging it basically.

Just Say No! To Gambling that is.

Hi Everybody,

Mmm. Due to a combination involving work, child and motivation, training has been sparse to say the least since my 50k.

The slight feeling that things are getting away from me has been exacerbated by the lovely weather. Oh and when I was marshalling at Kaneen's Garage Union Mills on Monday night during the Peel to Douglas race, a certain Robbie Callister turned up for a chat looking fit and tanned following his annual sojourn to Spain.

Since my 50k, I have done only two very light training sessions and played one game of football, so I am starting to panic about whether I'll be fully conditioned. As I alluded to earlier, the hotel is so busy that I'm struggling to escape and that hasn't been helping in that some of our team are taking holidays at the moment.

Many of the really big names including previous winners Peter Kaneen and Sue Biggart have finally put pen to paper or finger to keypad or whatever it is these days that you have to do. The excitement is building and the entry is growing!

My unique gambling fortunes came to the fore again this week. In an earlier post, you'll have probably have heard that I bet on the joint winner in the Sarah Killey Memorial work but ended up losing twice my stake i.e. two bottles of wine. This time a fellow Parish Walker bet me that there were only going to be about 850 entries this time around. I think I said 1100ish and he generously gave me any number down to a thousand but then texted last week to ask me to call the bet off, as it seemed he may have been wrong.

Of course, at such a polite request, how could I refuse? I don't think I'm quite getting the hang of this wagering business.

Oh well. I'll try to do some more walking today.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Fabulous Walk by Marie Jackson while Mr. Hirsuite Wows the Locals

The people of Stockton and the supporters were generally very good to the racewalkers who had taken over their park and I only witnessed one instance of a competitor nearly tripping over somebody.

Some of the kids were doing impressions wiggling their hips and I eventually made great friends with one young lad whose mum it turned out worked at the Cafe, so he was there right until the end. It was a real boost to have him cheering me on and wanting high fives every lap.

There was one gang of kids who didn't seem quite so friendly but I had to laugh when one of the girls shouted, 'Ya heery bastud!' when I passed them. Perhaps I shouldn't wear a vest, showing off my great gorilla suit.

During the early to middle parts of the race, I saw Marie quite regularly and the first time I overtook her, she was down in third place but in no panic, walking with great technique. Even that first time, she wasn't far behind Cath Duhig but Maureen Noel took me quite a while to catch.

By comparison with Marie, Maureen was working very hard using a great deal of upper body strength. By the second occasion, probably about 20k into the race, Marie still looked very composed and at this stage had moved into second place. This time the contrast between them was even more marked, despite the Belgrave Harrier being now some 2 minutes clear, her breathing showed that her pace and style were taking their toll. She probably knew already but it was great to be able to report to Marie that she just had to remain patient and the race would be hers.

I think that was the last time I passed Marie because she had obviously used far more racing nous than me despite this being her 50k debut. Indeed she looked so good right until the end that it wouldn't have surprised me if she had unlapped herself by overtaking me.

She took the lead at the around the 40k mark and didn't look back, finishing in 5:37:32 and pulling some 7 minutes out on the second placed lady and now former champion, Maureen Noel.

As I informed you in the previous post, the course had a stiff little hill, so it was a measure of how brilliant Marie's victory was in that it was the 7th fastest ever by a UK walker, scoring 936 IAAF points (compared with my paltry 839.) Thanks to Cal Partington for that information and it is perhaps even more remarkable that 5 of the top ten fastest lady's times have been set by IOM racers.

Lastly, a massive thank you to Paul Jackson and Irene George who were brilliant supporting, feeding and timing us, never complaining about being there for six hours for a good part in the rain.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Will There Be Chunder?

My apologies to Anon y mouse who commented on the last post but it's not always easy to find the time to start and finish a story in one sitting and I am also conscious that if it gets too long readers may lose interest. Leave you wanting more is my motto.

On the other point, which entry did you want me to expand upon? As far as I'm concerned, as I stated many months ago, I have nothing to gain by keeping secrets as almost everyone else has a very different style to me and as Robbie C. has since added, the spirit of the race really means everyone helps each other and if you want my advice for what it's worth, you're very welcome. (Did I really just write that? I'll try but I refer you back to first sentence. Time just could be an issue.)

And so I resume (though Paul Jackson's report in this week's Indie is very good. Don't rate his chances of survival highly though referring to the wife as 'The Manx Harriers veteran')

I was extremely nervous about the race but as usual that all disappeared as soon as the Mayor of Stockton blew the airhorn (like he does in every race. Only seven weeks to get used to this English language thing and I'll be a 'Blogbeen.')

Paul Evenett who in my preview I had down for second favourite stormed off into the lead, leaving Scott Davies the National Championship holder in his wake. Fortunately, none of the other competitors tried to follow him as he really didn't look in control and 50k is a long way to maintain such a style.

I didn't know the identity of the third placed man at the time but fourth was John Constandinou with me making up the top five. As John had informed me he was only hoping to walk 5:10, I wondered whether he had started quickly or whether it was me that was going too steadily. After a few laps Paul Jackson who with my wife Irene was keeping an eye on Marie and myself informed me that after about 3.5k I was about 20 seconds down on my target which was absolutely fine by me.

In the early stages of the race, I tried to keep taking on water and easy to digest carbohydrates to ensure I wouldn't run out of gas in the latter part, although the fact that they had the drinks table before the feeding station didn't really help us too much.

I gradually managed to reel in John C and think I passed him after about 7k. Apparently he always begins quite quickly which breaks with most of the advice I have ever been given but each to their own.

Even this early, I was beginning to lap people as it was quite a short course but I was catching a very brightly attired gentleman of whose identity I wasn't certain. It really is quite confusing with so many walkers going at so many different paces and I wasn't actually very definite on whether he was in front or behind me. 'Are you Glen Blythman?' was my opening gambit in conversation, which was pretty thick even by my standards as he was wearing a bright red, white and blue vest and all the Redcar club members were dressed in scarlet.

It transpired that he was Steve Arnold and that I was now up third place. The very next athletes I lapped were to inform me that this information was already outdated, as Paul Evenett had paid the ultimate price for his undisciplined early pace and had already picked up the dreaded three yellow cards by three different judges. His race had ended within 10k through disqualification.

Although my career has been fairly short, 2nd place, travelling really smoothly and just outside 18 seconds of my intended time, it really couldn't get better than this and indeed it didn't really.

At 20k, I was absolutely spot on, although between then and 30k my old groin injury had started to hurt again. After completing the third 10k, I was still feeling relatively good, only dropping 3 minutes behind my target. That included a dash from the course to the loo which was only 25m away but felt like miles.

My wheels were starting to fall off the wagon approaching the 40k mark and Ian Richards was the first person to unlap himself. The last 15k is when things really start to hurt but I was determined to keep my form (posture and technique)to avoid any comments by the judges and to ensure that I was still walking efficiently. Although the chances of me losing contact had somewhat receded with my loss of speed, in an 'A' race if you don't keep standing tall, there is a good possibility that you are not going to be landing your heel properly, thereby helping to keep the knee straight.

If you haven't paced a 50k race correctly this part of the race is hell and I'm sure many of you have experienced similar sensations during the PW. Ian Richards was quite quickly out of site, though in my favour he did seem to be working quite hard when he came past. My worry was that he would catch me and I would have a battle to keep this easily won second place and indeed Steve Arnold and Steve Crane also unlapped themselves, though the latter was still a full circuit behind. Somehow, I managed to keep going and I actually retook the two Steves but Ian was still not in vision.

By the last few laps the little hill that I had laughed at as an experienced Parish Walker had metamorphasised into the Sloc and the way I had dance up it at the beginning was a distant memory. Scott Davies had lapped me about four times and I was still slowing but I received help and encouragement from around the course, particularly from the Wears family. Irene and Paul were absolutely brilliant helping with the food and sports drinks etc. but it was a real test taking things on like crisps and having to wait a full lap for a drink.

Finally, I came to the last couple of laps out of 42.75 and I realised that not only had I slipped behind schedule but that I was now very unlikely to break 5 hours and despite some consternation from Paul who had an eye on Ian Richards, I decided to ease off to save myself for the my next big race (cannot for the life of me think what it is.)

Of course, I generally tend to back my speed against anyone I'm racing with at the finish but perhaps PJ was right to be worried because the man behind me was none other than a former Olympian albeit Moscow 1980. I did hang on by a minute though and I was so glad to cross that line for a silver medal in my first ever National Championship race in my first ever race in England.

No pewking! The technique held out and the one admonishment and one yellow card for contact from the judge on the hill didn't even make it to the Naughty Board. However, I was 37 minutes behind the winner and very disappointed not to walk 15 to 20 minutes quicker. I think that my major mistake was not to factor the 'hill' into my projected time and I really should have allowed 1 to 1.5 minutes per 10k to compensate for the extra effort.

It is one thing that I would remind everyone having a go on 21st June that no matter how easy it feels at first, you must start steadily and even if you are planning a schedule, don't be afraid to drop time , particularly if it is hot or windy. If you're battling early or late on reassess rather than struggle.

More on the ladies race and other things in the near future

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Setting the Scene

Thanks for all the wishes before the trip. You see the 'comment' thingy does work after all!

After quite a rough start to our journey, the swell died down half way across the Irish Sea and we were on our way to the race with only a couple of sickbags coming into use.

Having landed in Heysham, Stockton proved very easy to get to and even after a break for lunch in Kirkby Steven, we were there in less than three hours.

The weather had really improved and we wandered around Yarm, a very pleasant village nearby in shirt sleeves, even stopping for a drink outside by the river. Sparkling water and orange juice for Marie Jackson and me while I jealously observed Paul and Irene quaffing their beer.

Marie doesn't change her diet too much but tries to eat well, on this occasion plumping for the fish and I had a nearly vegetarian pasta meal as we had our pre race dinner in a local italian restaurant.

After a fitful sleep, breakfast at nine for me consisted of cornflakes with milk and porridge with muesli and yoghurt. Apparently, porridge is a slow burning carbo-hydrate and therefore ideal before long distance walks.

The race was at eleven o'clock that morning and the rain was falling quite steadily in the lead up to the race, so we didn't want to get to the venue too early and they had arranged for the signing-on to be done at a local sports club, meaning at least we'd stay dry before the start.

It was held at Ropner Park which was originally donated to the town by a german who had settled locally. It was neglected in the past but has been beautifully restored in recent years and is a fine place to hold a racewalk.

The lap chosen was 1.17k in length which I know would drive some people crazy circulating 42 times but it meant that the feed stations came around quite quickly.

There were a couple of areas where the walking surface was a little rough and the hill that had been mentioned beforehand was a little more testing than we'd thought, it would be but surely no obstacle to seasoned Parish Walkers.

Friday, 25 April 2008

National 50k Preview

On Sunday, in Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar Walking Club who have in recent years produced Beijing hopeful, Johanna Jackson and Ben Wears who recently starred over here at the Bowl in his first ever 20k race, are hosting the National 50k Road Racewalking Championship.

Although by Parish Walk standards, the entry of 31 seems paltry, it does actually represent a good improvement on recent years despite lacking the King twins who are currently No.1 and No.2 in the rankings.

In the Women's race, to my mind, favourite has to be our own Marie Jackson who has the pedigree to challenge champion, Maureen Noel and the other leading ladies if she gets it right on the day.

The current holder of the Men's title is Scott Davies who has won this event for the past three years and there is nobody in this race who would seem to be of his calibre.

Second place is very much up for grabs and with Steve Hollier not making an appearance, the leading contenders would seem to be Paul Evenett, Glen Blythman and Michael George (that's me for those slow on the uptake)

Paul came to the Island for the Manx Open in March when he didn't really have the best of days as we had a very good battle, with me holding him off quite easily as he tried to pass me on the last lap. However, since then, he has been on fire with another 20k of 97 mins and a 10k last weekend of 46:45. Although, I would expect him to beat me on Sunday, he has been disqualified and not finished in the only two 50k races I can find record of him entering, so there is still a question mark over his stamina.

Local man, Glen Blythman, I am told is expected to do very well and though his race c.v.times wouldn't suggest anything special, I believe he has targeted this race for a long time and you wouldn't bet too heavily against the Redcar Stable.

For the lower placings, Ian Richards, the amazing Arthur Thomson who is 70 years old! and John Constandinou should feature.

I'm hoping to finish in about 4:50 depending on the weather.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Just Do It!

Well, I am not starting to become nervous about my forthcoming 50k race on Sunday. I've been nervous for at least three weeks already.

In fact, I'm utterly terrified. In case you didn't already know or have forgotten, in my last two long distance races, the Parish Walk and the Dutch National 50k, my challenge ended when I hit the infamous 'Wall' and finished as the PW Sky Programme demonstrates, talking like a boxer who'd become too well acquainted with Floyd Mayweather's gloves.

This time, I'm fitter and I've spent the winter working on my technique to try and ensure I waste as little energy as possible. My race results have been excellent, the training has gone well. Mr. Hempsall seems to have fixed my injuries and all that's left of the cold is a loose cough and yet.......? When you've tried your hardest and been found wanting, it's still a leap into the unknown.

I'm off the booze and I've stopped eating fat and protein. The race is planned and I have a fair idea what I'll consume on the day. It seems like months since I last broke some serious sweat and there's nothing more I can really do but go and race.

So stop being a moaning Michael, relax enjoy the event and only worry about things you can influence.

By the way, May 3rd may be National Idiot Day but Wed 23rd April was Arsey Blogger Day. Actually, it's now run into two days because if you think one comment yesterday and two over the previous five months is enough, you can get stufffed (whoops it's aberrant 'f' ing day as well!)

P.S. I don't understand hosthe times and dates work on these blog things either

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

How to Cheat at Athletics - Without Pharmaceutical Assistance

There's an old saying that there's no short cuts in athletics but I reckon I came close to discovering it in 2006.

The Grand Plan? Run the London Marathon to get fit for the Parish Walk to STAY fit for the 100 miles and to stagger the End to End if there was anything left.

Until recently, I've never really been that keen on training and when I first drifted into the sport at the end of 2003, my idea of a schedule was to try and run myself into the ground playing football on a Monday, possibly going out for a half hour dash around the houses in my neighbourhood and entering as many races as I could.

Although I have known, Murray since our now 22 year old lads were at Ballaquayle Infants School, I didn't really know what he did in his leisure(?) time and in honesty, I fully expected to beat the old chap when I ran my first cross country around Port St. Mary Golf Course in that year.

By 2006 though, I was starting to take things a little more seriously but I still didn't do long training runs for two reasons: firstly because I used to get very sore knees and secondly because I didn't think I could find the time.

The decision to run in London and completing the Manx Marathon made me realise that I was going to have to put some real effort in and I started to join Murray's training group every Wednesday for such delights as Belmont Hill eight times, twelve repeats up past Summerhill to Port Jack and 5,6 and 8 x 1 mile at the N.S.C. As my companions in the group were all dedicated and talented runners, Nigel Armstrong, Paul Curphey, Mike Garrett and Andy Gosnell, there were times when this could be a little downheartening because it was a real struggle to keep up with them. Indeed Murray suggested that sometimes I ran less far or missed the odd repeat but I think he rather liked my reply, 'They're not going to make the Marathon any shorter for me.' and with the fillip that I had secured a Manx Harriers big race place, I gradually managed to close the gap to a respectable distance.

Things nearly came to a disappointing conclusion for me though when I ran a training marathon at the Ramsey Course on the Saturday, then 5 x 1 miles on the Wednesday and followed that up with the Island Cross Country Championships the next Sunday. My knees independently staged an immediate strike and despite cold baths, pleading and threatening their removal from the rest of my body, they refused to even comtemplate improving and I started to think that I would visit London as a spectator.

For all the years I thought I had a knee problem, I didn't really think anything could be done for them and I imagined that one day I would be reduced to a hobble. I think it was Bridget Kaneen that I have to thank for telling me that I was talking rubbish (not that she'd have said such a thing so gracelessly) and persuaded me to go and see someone.

So after a couple of weeks of inactivity, I had an appointment with an Aussie physiotherapist called Neil Sleeman who apparently practised in Sydney next door to an eminent knee specialist and within about 5 days, I was literally up and running again. As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, all that was wrong was that my I.T. band was pulling my kneecap across and causing it to grate because my quadreceps were not strong enough.

Through March, I was able to manage two more long runs, including the 20 miles that never was and therefore, arrived in London in one piece but that was the sum total of my endurance training for the entire summer. The rest was all races; much more fun and now you know, 'How to Cheat at Athletics!'

The question now is whether you at some stage would like like to hear about the rest of my summer of 2006 or whether that will just bore you all to tears? Finally, I think I have found a way of eliciting some 'comments' because if you don't post anything back to me, I shall save myself the trouble of writing it.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

George Family get Up, Down and Dirty

Short on time tonight and may not complete this post in one go but went for a fantastic walk today which I can thoroughly recommend for anyone who does running or walking but gets bored on the N.S.C. OR roads.

Park up in Glen Maye village. Head off down the Glen Rushen road and then fork right when you get to the 'Bayr ny Skeddyn.' Fork right again and go up towards Creg ny Crook, through the plantation and then cross the Parish Course bearing a little right and aim for Eary Cushlin. Although you are heading away from Nyarbyl press on towards Lag ny Keilley until you get very close to the Sea and then turn right following the 'Raad ny Foillan' until you reach the Cafe.

That took Terence 10y/o, Irene and me 2:12 minutes and then after a feed, Irene went to get the car in about 40 mins while we went rock climbing.

The maximum height was 250m, distance to Cafe 10k. Scenery stupendous and a great chance to work the c.v. and the muscles if not to develop technique. Do it when you can!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Broken Dream? Broken Leg More Like

Because of his improvement over the last couple of years, one of the big surprises to me was that Paul Renshaw only managed a 4 hour marathon in London on Sunday.

I was worried that perhaps it was his unique tapering method that had done for him i.e. a 42.5 mile walk only seven days before the event.

He was at the presentation for the walk last night, sporting a brilliant multicoloured hair creation and I asked him if his run had not gone according to plan or was that always his intention to run at that pace.

Apparently, he was on course for three hours but the pain became too great and he had to slow down. Eventually, he limped over the line and had to visit the ambulance where he was told that he had a fracture. What's more it wasn't an injury that had only just occurred, meaning that he had done the full marathon with a broken bone!

They're tough these Ramsey lads, you know.

'Bloody Crackers They Are'

Two of our regular lunchtime visitors, a couple of retired gentlemen arrived a little too early for their meal today and decided to sit and wait in their car.

'What them two fellas in black and yellow dooin' goen up'n'down the hill. They went up the one time with their hands up in the air. Some sort o' Parish Walk training is it?'

'Er, I'm not sure.'

'Bloody craackers, they are!'


Take a bow Mark Hempsall, recent joint winner of the 'Seven Stations Challenge' and Dave Mackey doing repeats on Mona Drive (The Arches) as part of their hill session today.

Gambling - It's a Mug's Game

How can you hedge your bets on a two horse race and end up losing twice? Read on.

Last night was the presentation for the Sarah Killey Memorial Walk and I'd love to give you a detailed report but unfortunately, the demand outstripped the size of the room at the The Cat with No Tail and I was unable to see or hear any of the details, having produced my usual party trick of arriving late (People who know me well. Don't worry. I didn't back it up with my encore of falling asleep.)

However, they did briefly adjourn outside and I was able to get the couple of snaps featured on this post.

While my reputation was on the feet of Mark (see earlier preview of race,) my money or to be more accurate my bottle of Wolfblass red wine was on Jock as I had accepted a wager with the aforementioned 'Conan the Destroyer,' of Manx walking, otherwise known as Mr. Hempsall.

I could nearly taste my first glass as I saw Mark disappear into the distance like a bat out of hell at the start and indeed I'd almost drained the bottle when despite his best efforts he'd failed to break away on the last of the hills. Metaphorically, I sat back on my sofa, lit my cigar and waited for Jock to switch into 'race walking mode' and leave 'Conan,' in his wake to plan his raid on the off-licence. And... he didn't. They were both step to step right up to the finish and to be frank, they both deserved a bottle of wine for their thrilling encounter. See below.

(Picture by Terence George)