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History

Manx Telecom - Title sponsor

Manx Telecom first brought innovation to the Parish Walk in 2007 by sponsoring the electronic timing and in 2012 became the title sponsor.

Manx Telecom is the leading communication solutions provider on the Isle of Man. The Group offers a wide range of fixed line, broadband, mobile and data centre services to businesses, consumers and the public sector on the Isle of Man. The Group also provides a growing portfolio of innovative solutions to offshore customers.

Sheadings and parishes

The Isle of Man is divided into six sheadings which are further divided into seventeen parishes each with its own parish church. The original Parish Walk involved touching the door (and then later the gate) at each parish church but this practice has been phased out. The course takes walkers from the National Sports Centre in Douglas past the first two parish churches, Braddan and Marown, without recording their progress.

The first church at which you will be registered as reaching is Santon (if you do not reach Santon you will not be included in the race results). The same process is repeated at Malew, Arbory, Rushen and Patrick. The next parish on the course is German where the parish church of St German in Peel became a cathedral in 1980. For many years the recording point has not been at the church / cathedral gates but on the other side of the road at Peel Town Hall. Peel is the furthest point to which under 21 year old entrants are allowed to compete and until 2006 it was the official finishing point for all women and also men aged 40 or more (although these entrants could opt to continue).

By tradition, most people will refer to retiring at or continuing beyond "Peel" rather than the parish name, "German".

Walkers continue on to the parishes of Michael, Ballaugh, Jurby, Bride, Andreas, Lezayre, Maughold, Lonan and Onchan where they will be electronically registered at each church gate. Onchan is the 17th and final parish and so you may think it would be "mission accomplished" at this church however, to be a Parish Walk finisher, you will have to walk more than two miles further to the finish line next to the war memorial on Douglas promenade.

 

The start and finishing positions have also evolved over the years. In 1960 the start was at St Georges Church (not one of the 17 parish churches) and finished in the Villa Marina gardens hence it was almost a lap of the Isle of Man incorporating the seventeen parish churches. To improve safety, the course has been diverted (and extended) in places with a corresponding change in the starting position to the National Sports Centre in Douglas (to maintain the traditional 85 mile course length) with the finish on the opposite side of the road to the Villa Marina.

Manx Harriers - organising club

Manx Harriers are organising the Parish Walk for the 27th year in 2018. Between 1960 and 1964 the Parish Walk was organised by the Manx Amateur Athletic Association (later renamed Manx Athletic Club). Boundary Harriers revived it in 1967 and continued to organise it until 1991.

In September 1991 the Manx Athletic Club merged with Boundary Harriers to form Manx Harriers bringing hundreds of track & field athletes, walkers, road runners and cross country runners into a single club for the first time.

Since 1991 club teams have competed in the Northern Track & Field Leagues, its athletes have won numerous medals in Lancashire Cross Country and Track & Field Championships, its walkers have gained individual and team medals at national championships and in 2011 the club recorded its highest ever position in the National Cross Country Championships.  Individual athletes have excelled at national and international level, represented the Isle of Man in the Commonwealth and won countless medals in the Island Games.  The diversity of the club means that it has continued to promote what was the Manx Athletic Club’s Easter Festival (the famous runner Ron Hill was the guest of honour for the 50th event in 2012) attracting hundreds of visiting athletes, whilst promoting track & field, road running, cross country and race walking, to which everyone on the Isle of Man is invited to join in, and providing an outlet for youngsters to receive expert tuition from the club’s unpaid but highly qualified coaches.

The Manx Telecom Parish Walk, more than any other event in the year, brings all of the club’s skills and resources together.  The majority of members are involved either for a few hours of marshalling while some work all the year around to make the event possible. Even then, the club could not manage without the freely given help from the other Manx clubs and many people outside the athletic club structure.

Such are the demands on the club’s senior officials that a separate committee operates just to organise the Parish Walk.  The committee members give their time freely to enable in excess of 1,400 people to take on one of the biggest challenges on the Manx sporting calendar.  Thanks to the wonderful sponsorship of Manx Telecom, the event is not only professionally promoted but the budget from the race entry fees are supplemented to allow for extra policing, additional safety measures, prizes and the presentation while the provision of one of the best electronic results service in the world by Manx Telecom comes at no cost to the organisers and greatly benefits the participants and their families.

Unlike the mass participation events in the UK and elsewhere, the Parish Walk does not employ any staff or pay fees or bonuses to those that take on the huge responsibility for ensuring that everything goes smoothly. Indeed many expenses incurred go unclaimed. This generosity allows any surplus from the event to help the athletes for which the club was created.  It was only on the merger of the two clubs that each club’s dream of having a permanent clubhouse was realised and this costly resource is put to good use at Parish Walk time.

The satisfaction that the club and its members derive from organising the Parish Walk for the walkers goes even deeper than witnessing so many personal achievements that walkers remember for a lifetime.

Although all entrants must pay an entry fee, they have one of the Island’s best known events as a charity fundraiser.  How can anyone turn down a request to help someone that has walked up to 85 miles for their cause?

In big city marathons charities have to pay hundreds of pounds to secure entries for their fund raisers. In some high profile charity fundraising events, thousands of pounds of costs must be deducted from sponsorship.  Thanks to the structure and prestige of the event that Manx Harriers and Manx Harriers provide (this may understate it a little!) all you have to do is, set up your account at justgiving.com or virginmoneygiving.com, ask your friends to sponsor you, enter the race, turn up on the day and walk 85 miles! You should be able to donate every penny that you raise to your charity.

Every year hundreds of walkers raise thousands of pounds for their favourite charities and for the past few years there is an added incentive of, for those that so desire, of being part of a group raising money for one of the official designated charities.

The Manx Telecom Parish Walk has for some time been the biggest mass participation event in the Isle of Man organised by the Island’s largest club with the help of the best sponsors.