Parish Walk 2014 entries have now closed so if you haven't entered you aren't going to take part in one of the best supported days on the Isle of Man.
Leaving the NSC together with over 1000 other walkers, the streets are lined with supporters. It's so nice to be cheered on as you walk towards Marown Church. The road to the first Parish is closed to vehicles so it is the ideal opportunity to chat with other walkers along the way. The one question you are sure to be asked is "How far are you going?" I wonder how many people actually reach their goal or possibly even go further than their goal. If you've been training with a goal in mind of less than 85 miles you may be surprised that on the day you can walk further. The excitement, company and adrenaline all help to keep you going when you thought that you wouldn't be able to.
Four weeks before last year's Parish Walk I wasn't sure I was going to be on the start line. I was advised not to do it because I could seriously damage my tendon by walking 85 miles but I was determined. My plan was to take it easy and aim to finish within the required 24 hours - but when I got to the start line and the countdown began my competitive side took over and I didn't think too much about my injury for the rest of the day!
I had done a lot of serious training because my 2013 plan was to do the Sara Killey, Parish Walk, 100 Mile and the End to End. I had considered finishing the Parish Walk in Peel to save my legs for the 100 Mile walk in August but I kept thinking that if I didn't finish the Parish and I failed to finish the 100 Mile then I wouldn't have achieved either goal. So I decided that I would still aim to complete the Parish Walk and see how I did in the 100 Mile, even though the latter was priority as it isn't often held on the island.
The Sara Killey was a huge success for me. I finished as 4th lady in under 6 hours - to plan.
The Parish Walk went much better than planned. It was a very warm day and I started to feel dehydrated in Patrick. I slowed down for a while and started to drink much more than I had been and soon started to feel a lot better. It is so important not to dehydrate, it can easily end your walk prematurely. I reached Peel in 6hr 42mins, my aim was 7 hours so I was well ahead of time. From Peel to Andreas seemed to pass relatively quickly as I was constantly walking with various different characters along the way. In Bride I met up with Bernadette from South Africa. She was going through a really bad patch and was possibly also suffering with the boredom of walking alone from Jurby to Andreas. We walked together to Andreas Church where she stopped for a while for something to eat. I carried on alone and remained mostly alone for the rest of the walk. Once again I hit a very thick, solid brick wall in Maughold. A cyclist came past me and asked if I was OK. I was going to ask him to catch up with my support vehicle and get him to come back with food and water as I was feeling a little dizzy, but alas the cyclist said I was looking good and disappeared into the distance! Somehow I managed to get to Maughold Church and then up Ballajora and back onto the main road. This is where I realise that I don't have too much further to go and my body decides that the best way to get to the end is as quickly as possible. By this time Brian (support) is also saying that he's tired and I should speed up - nothing like encouragement!
Parish Walk 2013 - finished in 18:24:31 in 28th position and 7th lady - happy with the result.
Meet Zachary - the new addition to my family. He's a 12 week old Miniature Schnauzer.