As usual I have failed with my hoped for Blog schedule and only now am I making my promised Manx Telecom Parish Walk report 13 days after the event.
The 85 mile race itself certainly lived up to expectations and as predicted, at the forefront were Jock Waddington, Vinny Lynch, me and Richard Gerrard, the latterly competing despite injuring his back at work only a few days before the start.
Less expected was the presence of a young chap called, David Mapp who is the musical director of Onchan Silver Band and leading them this morning at Tynwald Day. He has the makings of a decent technique but the rest of us were wondering whether could could possibly maintain his challenge.
However, fortunately he also seems to possess knowledge of his own ability and he decided to ease off in the approach to Arbory but he went on to finish 5th in an excellent time, so he certainly looks to be one to watch for the future.
Four times winner, Jock Waddington was the next man to slip back at Ballakillowey on the ascent towards the infamous Sloc, yet despite trying hard not to hit the front too early, that was exactly where I found myself when Richard had to make a toilet stop and Vinny was struggling with his dodgy ankle.
I just allowed gravity to take me to Peel but I think both of my opponents had to work quite hard to catch me and I think that extra effort they'd put in told over the next 30 miles or so.
It was a real test of discipline all the way up the N.W. coast to stay tucked in behind them as I was raring to go, though also keen not to make a repeat of the previous year when I had led and been a target for so long.
The other major difference being hydration. On this occasion, I made certain that I began drinking before the gun was fired and continued, thus ensuring my problems with my stomach would be minimal.
However, by Andreas with thirty miles to go, my patience was exhausted and instead of slowing down all the time, to sit in third place, I just continued and made my move. This was far earlier than I'd envisaged but it just felt right and my lead slowly but surely extended through Lezayre, Ramsey & Maughold, where at Corony after the tough climbs at Ballajora & Hibernian, I'd built up a gap of 6 minutes.
It was at this juncture, that with a couple of blisters to help out, for the first time, I began to lose a little focus and was uninterested in maintaining the pace I'd initiated despite the urgings of my support team, Graham & Martin Young.
I was to be jolted out of my reverie by two factors. Having thought I had a sizeable lead, I had to stop at Lonan with 6 miles to complete because Graham was unable to start my rear light (it is compulsory to be illuminated after 10pm) and the strapping had become tangled in the car. We must have dropped 90 seconds and as I descended back towards the main road, the next thing I saw was Richard Gerrard walking towards me.
There was no possibility I could now be 6 minutes ahead and indeed Manx radio reported it as being 4.5 minutes at the church. However, that was before our bungled pit stop.
I was angry that I hadn't been kept informed and I was terrified that once again I was going to fall short. This feeling was exacerbated by the fact that we still hadn't got my lights on correctly and they were bouncing around all over the place.
The adrenalin surged through my blood supply and once again, I was really moving, though still very fearful that my lamps would come off or I would trip up. I was also mindful of the presence of the judges and I was much more cautious than I could have been on the long descent at Whitebridge.
Anyone who has walked along Douglas Promenade will know that it is full small bumps and large expansion seams, so that was another factor affecting my peace of mind. However, I knew as I approached Broadway that the day would finally be mine.
I had sort of decided not to follow Jock's two handed salute but I didn't have long to decide how I would celebrate. The 'Mikebo' had occurred to me but as I approached the line, I dismissed that as totally corny and all of a sudden I was there.
My hands shot up a la Waddington (but way too late to be cool like he is,) and then totally forgetting that I was nearly 48 years old and had just completed 85 miles, rather than being 26 and not having had to run for 10 seconds, I went for the Usain Thunderbolt. I say, 'Went for' but realised half way down, I was never going to make it, so probably acted in the silliest manner ever witnessed at the War Memorial. But I'd still won.
And won by 6 minutes and 10 seconds, though just a couple of minutes shy of the record.
with thanks to Murray & Ben Lambden for use of the picture.
Also huge congratulations to Janice Quirk who won the Ladies race in the third fastest time ever, despite being absent from the the Parish Walk since 2009.
Richard Gerrard came second and Jock Waddington regrouped to overtake Vinny for third place.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the messages of support, cards, e-mails and well wishes in the street. It has made me feel very humble.
The brouhaha that follows around a Parish Walk is quite astounding these days as is the media coverage on Island and even in some cases a little further afield.
However, just to make sure I stay feeling humble and don't become even more big headed, I received an e-mail from a local company yesterday asking me if I like to advertise with them and the author became the second Manx girl in three days to ask if I'd done the Parish Walk this year.
This was the front page of our local newspaper, the following Monday and it was all over the airwaves on the radio news of all the stations. There must have been quite a party under the rock at Eary Cushlin that I mentioned in my last post.