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As a competitor in the Parish Walk, you will get your entry in early and commit to training over the winter months. Winter turns to spring and, before you know it you will be collecting your race number on the Thursday or Friday before the race then perhaps you'll go home and carb load on a big pasta meal before packing those final essential items into your support crew's basket. You're all set for race day.
08:00 on Saturday comes round really quickly and before you realise what is happening, you're off and the race has begun and in front of you lie 85 miles of church check points, feed stations, road closures, one way systems, no stopping zones, cones, barriers, not to mention the small army of marshals and helpers that make it happen.

There is an unsung committee behind the scenes who get on with the task of making the event run as smoothly as possible, ensuring that competitors and suporters alike are safe and that everyone enjoys what is the island's most popular, mass participant event.

To get an idea of how the Parish Walk is put together, each of the committee members were asked the following questions:

  1. What is your Parish Walk official title/role?
  2. What are your main duties?
  3. Other duties?
  4. What are your tasks on race day?
  5. How long have you been on the Parish Walk Committee?
  6. Have you competed in the Parish walk and if so, how did you get on?
  7. What is your favourite part of the course as a competitor (if you competed)?
  8. Favourite part of the event as an organiser (i.e. registration, the start, the camaraderie, the community, Peel, Finish etc.) and why?
  9. Your stand out moment/person in the history of the event and why?

Their answers make interesting reading.

  • Raymond Cox - Race Director

    Ray chairs all committee meetings and oversees the running of the entire event.

    He will liaise with the title sponsor Manx Telecom and meet with them regularly in the lead up to the race. He will also meet with all of the other partners that are part of the support mechanism such as feed station providers, timing and results providers, Government departments, charities and all those agents who are vital in making the Parish Walk a success.

    Ray's Parish Walk day starts at 06:00 at the NSC preparing for the 08:00 start. He will then remain at the head of the race, preceding the leaders, ensuring that all the check in points are in order and that all the road safety signs are in place. Ray also acts as one of the two race referees on the day. Finally, at the end of a long day, he will oversee the finish area from about 21:30 onwards snatching a few hours' sleep if he can. At 08:00 on Sunday morning, the event has concluded and the the tidy up operation starts.

    He joined the committee in 1995.

    Ray has entered the Parish Walk once in 1994. Due to a training injury on the lead up the the race, he had hoped to get to Santon but he went on to finish in a very respectable 5th place in a time of 19:12:55!

    His favourite part of the race as a competitor was the stretch from St John's to the coast road! In 1994, due to a karting event which was taking place around the streets of in Peel on the same day, the Parish Walk route was diverted to St John's and along the Switchback Road joining the usual route at Knocksharry. This unique alteration meant that the full race distance that year was 86 miles.

    Ray's favourite part as an organiser would be the finish because it is there that one sees the full range of emotions from the walkers finishing their race and also the emotions of their support crews.

    Stand out moment? Sean Hands' epic walk in 2006 when he smashed Derek Harrison's long standing (27 year!) record. Sean's record has been lowered many times since but Sean was the pioneer who demonstrated that the record, which had stood firm for so many years, could be broken.

  • Kev Walmsley - Course Director

    Kev's main role is to assist the Race Director with safe and efficient running of the event, usually from the rear of the race by closing down check in points at designated cut off times.

    Other roles are wide and varied, depending on what the day brings, but will include checking that Road Closure/One Way/no stopping signs are in position to ensuring competitors are walking in a safe manner and not in the middle of an open road (as happens every year) and that walkers and back up crews alike obey the race rules.

    On race day, Kev will set up the start area with the Race Director and then follow the race as it progresses and he will ensure that correct the cut off times are applied at Santon, Rushen, Peel and thereafter. He is also part of a group of judges who monitor competitors' progression throughout the race to ensure they are complying with the walking rules for this class of race and are not gaining an unfair advantage over other competitors. He will also assist in the wider application of rules applicable to walkers and back up crews mailny for walker and supporter safety, in addition to trying to keep traffic flowing.

    Kev can’t remember exactly when he started to help the organising committee but it was around 1992 when Joan Powell asked him to help out. One of his early tasks was putting out safety signs. Back then ALL the kit went in the back of a Vauxhall Nova, how times have changed!

    He walked to Peel a couple of times but completed the full distance in 2003. He finished in 8th position in a time of 17:57:07.

    Favourite part of the course as a competitor? That's a tough one. Up the Sloc is never as bad as everyone thinks and Kev found it a nice break from the flat. From the top of the Sloc through to Round table has spectacular views and is usually nice and cool. But his favourite part is probably the long stretch up the West Coast. On a lovely summer evening it is a beautiful rural road which we perhaps don't appreciate when in walking mode.

    He loves the whole community feel of the Parish Walk. The number of social events organised around the Parish Walk route seems to grow every year. Dot Tilbury sets the scene early on with a Parish Breakfast at Marown, and that party atmosphere carries on right through until the excellent Maughold Social Club where you can still get soup and a burger at 2am!

    Picking a 'stand out moment' is another tough question. There are so many volunteers that Kev has worked with over the years and so many phenomenal walkers it is very hard to pick just one. Murray Lambden was a fierce and talented competitor, had an early blue-print for the event which even now can still be applied, and he did so much work with photos and statistics on the website that he would clearly be up there. He has also seen how much work Ray Cox has done over the last 20 years. Ray's hard work and professional approach has put Murray’s vision in to practice and he continues to be a driving force to bring the ever more complex event together every year.  Kev really doesn't think he could choose between either of them.    

  • Winston Liu - Chief Marshal

    Winston is the central point of contact and the co-ordination behind all of the marshals that are very evident on race day. The marshals are in place at key points throughout the race to ensure road traffic is kept moving at pinch points, as a high visibility presence where vehicles and competitors cross each other such as road junctions but most importantly for the safety of the competitors.

    He designs and prints the certificates which are presented to all finishers at the awards ceremony held at the Villa Marina. At this prize presentation, there is always an image of the person receiving their certifiate projected onto the screen at the rear of the stage. Winston prepares all of these images, ensuring they are in the correct order and that names and finish times have been added to each image.

    On race day, he will be at the NSC at 06:30 preparing for the start at 08:00. He oversees the marshals around the NSC helping to ensure the start goes off without any issues. Once all competitors have made their way out of the NSC, Winston will then head out to oversee the many marshals at Marown church.
    This is an 'out and back' section of the course and it is on a closed road therefore the entire width of the road is taken up with walkers heading either to or from Marown church. These seemingly never-ending streams of walkers need to be seperated from each other and that's what Winston's marshals ensure happens here. From Marown, he will head on to Rushen church which has a similar 'out and back' situation although the walkers are far more spread out by the time they reach here (19 miles). Peel is his next destination which has a lot of one way systems and road closures in place for the race and then finally on to marshal at the finish area.

    Winston has been a member of the organising committee since 1995.

    He entered the race for the first and only time in 1992 and became a first time finisher in 22:03:32 coming 11th out of only 17 finishers. What made this particularly special for Winston is that a year and a half before, he was hit by a car and broke his leg in four places.

    His favourite part of the course as a competitor is the Sloc and as an organiser would be Peel due to the atmosphere there which goes on all afternoon.

  • Elizabeth Corran - Race Secretary

    Elizabeth's duties are manyfold but include contacting and organising volunteers for the manning of sixteen church check points (Braddan is not used as a checkpoint), organising race registration in the days before race day. She will liase with each individual church regarding their use ensuring there are no weddings booked! She also arranges for Peel Town Hall and the Philip Chistian Centre to be available on race day for the hundreds of competitors who stop there.
    She organises the creation of the packs that each entrant receives which contain race numbers, advice and information. Elizabeth also orders medals, trophies and prizes for finishers, flowers for stage at the Villa Marina and organises the buffet on presentation evening. She will be on stage organising the distribution of prizes at the race presentation.

    On race day, Elizabeth will be seen assisting at start, judging/marshalling around the Braid crossroads before she heads off to Peel. At Peel, she will help to set-up the checkpoint, oversee the whole area to ensure everything runs smoothly. Once Peel has been closed down, she will head back to Douglas to assist with setting up the finish then checking in finishers as they arrive.

    Elizabeth started to help on the organising committee in 1993.

    An accomplished race walker, she won ladies race to Peel five times and completed the full 85 miles in 2006 in a time of 20:48:37.

    She enjoyed the early miles to Peel in 2006 because she walked with her friend and they enjoyed the scenery going up over the Sloc. When she raced to Peel, there wasn't much time to admire the view plus it was more lonely in those days because there weren't so many walkers in the race.

    Peel is one of her favourite parts of the course because the atmosphere is always brilliant with hundreds of spectators, but the finish is my absolute favourite especially the last couple of hours watching people achieve that finish is unique and it can be quite emotional.

    The stand out moment for Elizabeth is when Sean Hands broke Derek Harrison's record after 27 years. The excitement that night was fantastic and it was a great achievement by Sean.

  • Debbie Surgeon - Assistant Course Director

    Debbie's main duties include co-ordinating the production of the Parish Walk race programme, ensuring everything is in order and the final draft is submitted to the printers in good time. She helps to prepare all the competitor's packs which are given out at race registration and also assists Elizabeth to set up to run these registration evenings.
    On race day, she and the Course Director, Kevin Walmsley, travel together, working mainly at the back of the field, closing down each church, checking for stragglers and those who seem to be struggling especially in the latter miles.

    On race day Debbie will be found at the NSC, preparing for the start at 08:00 and assisting where required. Once the race is underway she will then head out to Marown School and marshal at the school car park. This is the only time she will see the front end of the race!

    From there she and Kevin will follow the back of the field and close off each of the church checkpoints at the cut off times.  Whilst doing this they are continually monitoring the walkers and their back-up crews ensuring that everyone is complying with the rules. During the night they are particularly vigilant checking that all walkers are illuminated with front and rear lights, are wearing reflective bibs, and especially that they are walking safely and not in the middle of the road! It is all about safety!

    Debbie has been on the committee since 2002.

    She has only entered the race once in 1999 and finished at Peel. Her favourite part of the course was getting into Peel! The weather was brutal that year and rather than enjoying the views they had hailstones going up the Sloc!

    As an organiser, there are too many 'favourite' parts of the event to simply pick one! The banter at registration is always enjoyable. The community spirit on the day is just brilliant; people are out in their gardens cheering and providing refreshments, many continuing on through the night! A nice hot mug of soup at Maughold at 2am is always appreciated! Encouraging someone to continue when they feel like stopping at Lezayre, for example, then seeing that they've crossed the finish line at Douglas. Seeing someone get to Santon when for them that is an amazing achievement.

    The Parish Walk is for everyone and witnessing people achieve their personal goals, however far that may be, is fantastic and can be quite emotional at times!

  • Allan Callow - title

  • Geoff Quayle - Assistant Course Director

    Geoff's main role in the run up to the race is to monitor and update the event risk assessment which underpins the safe running of the Parish Walk. This risk assessment has been instrumental in the increasing number of road closures, oneway systems and 30mph zones implemented due to the increase in the number of competitors going beyond Peel and the number of vehicles on the roads.

    Geoff's Parish Walk day starts at 07:00 at the NSC getting ready for the start of the race. This is the only part of the race he will see! He and fellow Assistant Course Director Allen Bell then follow the race route after the final walkers have passed through and collect all of the signage, trestle tables and traffic cones all the way down to Rushen church. Once they reach Rushen, John and Joan Ryder take over this role.
    He is also responsible for reopening closed roads and informing the Emergency Services of the changed status of the public roads.

    Geoff will then head north and cover up the permanent speed limit signs with temporary 30mph signs between Sulby and Ramsey and Hibernia to Onchan. If this is finished before 22:00, he will head to the finish area to assist with setting it up. After the winner crosses the line, he'll head home for some sleep before  getting up again at 06:00 to head north to remove the signs he and Allen put up the previous evening! They'll also collect all of the Parish Walk signage between Sulby and the finish and will call it a day at around 14:00 on Sunday.

    Geoff joined the Parish Walk committee in 2011.

    He's entered the race five times posting two finishes in 2005 and 2009, the latter year producing his best finishing time of 22:45:23

    His favourite part of the course was getting to the top of the Sloc and looking back down to see the long line of walkers who had yet to make the climb! Turning the corner at Port Jack and seeing the finish in the distance was also a memorable moment for Geoff.

    Geoff's responsibilities on race day don't allow him to see much of the event but he does enjoy hearing about the experiences from the competitors at the presentation evening. His most memorable moment though was being at the finish in 2019 to watch his daughter cross the line.

  • Karen Kneale - title

  • Adam Killip - Social Media Director

    Adam's role is a new one created in 2018 to utilise the various platfoms of social media to give followers of the Parish Walk up to date information relating to the event. In addition to this, he writes and publishes biographical articles for the Parish Walk website which can be found on the "Features" tab. Before, during and after the event, Adam will be recording videos and uploading them to social media.

    In addition to this, he will be providing some analysis/stats of finisher data and liaising with the other members of the social media team to discuss ideas for improving event coverage and how to divide up the various duties throughout the year.

    On race day, Adam will be following the event by car from the start until about 21:00. During this time, he will post regular updates from various locations onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. After 21:00, he will head to the finish area and assist with setting up and he will remain there until the end of the event.

    He has been on the committee since 2017

    Adam is an accomplished walker himself and has 6 Parish Walk finishes out of 12 starts. His best performance was his third place in the 2017 race in a superb time of 16:58:26 when he was one of only three people to break the 17 hour barrier that year.

    His favourite part of the course as a competitor is the section from Jurby to Bride. Lots of people hate this part due to it seeming to go on forever, but for Adam it's peaceful and quiet with lots of nice scenery allowing him to completely switch off from the world for a brief period.

    As an organiser, his favourite part of the event is, without doubt, the community spirit which is evident throughout the day all over the island. If it were possible to figure out, Adam would like to know how many people are involved in the Parish Walk in some way each year.

    Adam's stand out moment of the event is more of a memory than a moment but it was when he walked up the Sloc in the monsoon in 2008. He could barely see or feel anything - it was more like a January day than the middle of June! In fact that day was later tagged as the second wettest day ever in the Isle of Man since meteorogical records began!

  • Rachel Quayle - Statistician

    Rachel's main duties are to produce statistics at the end of the event, working out who is the most improved finisher and the recipient of the best first-time finisher awards. In addition to this she assists Adam with The Parish Walk Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds before during and after the race.

    Having joined the committee in 2017, she has assisted where required including marshalling at various spots, helping with social media updates and assisting Sean Hands in communication van at the finish line on Douglas promenade. From 2020 however, she will be co-ordinating the roads opening process after the walkers at the rear of the field have passed through. A closed road can be opened once all of the competitors have passed through even if this is prior the 'roads open' time. In these cases Rachel will liaise with race control and the emergency services to notify them that a particular road has been opened early.

    She first entered the event as a competitor in 2017 when she made it to Jurby before retiring. In 2019, she entered again and this time made it all the way to the finish in a time of 23:31:31.

    Rachel's favourite part of the course as a competitor was when she was walking along Douglas prom in 2019. The sun had risen and it was then that she believed, for the first time during the entire race, that she was going to make it to the end! 

    As an organiser, her favourite part of the event is community spirit. The crowds at Peel are phenomenal, there are Mexican waves in the northern section and the overwhelming generosity of the Manx public makes the event so great to be involved in.

    Stand out moment? When Nicolaas Willemse finished the race in 2018 with only 5 seconds left, which is the closest call ever in the race. Everyone at the finish line was willing him on, hoping that he would make it; it was a very dramatic way to finish that year's event.

  • Jock Waddington - Media Manager

    Jock's main role is moderating the Parish Walk website which was relaunched with a completely new look and format in December 2017.

    Since 2016, he and his wife have marshalled at the Blackboards then at the Round Table crossroads. The Round Table can be a challenge due to the sheer volume of traffic coming through however, the walkers tend to be fairly sensible at this point, keeping to the left leaving them to sort out the hundreds of vehicles passing through many of which aren't involved in the race at all.

    Once the final walkers have gone through the Round Table and the Ryders' "sweeper" vehicle has been and gone, Jock will then drive to the north of the island to start his role as a walking judge. There is a team of judges who are scattered around the course for the whole day watching for infringements and unsportsmanship.

    Jock joined the Parish Walk committee in 2017 having previously been on the End to End Walk committee and, more recently, the IoM 100 miles organising committee.

    He has started the race on twelve occasions posting ten finishes and four wins. Jock's best time was his winning time in 2011 of 15:01:48 and he is the only person to have won the race for four consecutive years.

    His favourite part of the course has varied over the years but the part he has consistently enjoyed is between Bride and Maughold. Checking in at Bride seems like he's turning for home and heading south towards Douglas although the race route is not that linear! There is always a good crowd in Parliament Square, Ramsey cheering competitors on. There may be beer.

    As an organiser, Jock really enjoys marshalling at the Round Table and has been fortunate enough to have always had good weather there whilst doing it. There is still a healthy amount of banter and good humour from competitors at this point as they pass through and start their descent towards Peel.

    Jock's stand out moment was from 2012 when Richard Gerrard and Vinny Lynch overhauled a tiring Michael George (who had led more or less from the start) with about 6 miles to go at Ballabeg railway crossing at the top of Laxey. They went on to jointly win and break Sean Hands' record time from 2006. Michael, who was dead on his feet at the end, was also inside Sean's record by 25 seconds! Phenominal walks by all three men.

  • John & Joan Ryder - Assistant Course Director

    John and Joan are an important cog in the Parish Walk engine. They work more or less entirely behind the scenes and will be unfamiliar to the majority of the competitors on race day.
    On the Friday before the race, they will collect a long wheel base van, fill it to the brim with trestle tables (for the feed stations), bins, signs, traffic cones and so on and they will start to drive around the southern churches dropping off all of the paraphernalia required at those check points. They do this from Santon (12 miles) all the way through to almost Kirk Michael (39 miles).

    On race day, they will be helping out at the start and once the race is underway, they will head out to Kirk Michael and put up 'Caution walker' signs all the way back to Glen Maye then they will head down to Rushen church.

    Once the cut-off time at Rushen has passed, they will pick up traffic cones from the church and Ballakillowey roundabout then follow the race route and the last of the walkers through, clearing away all the cones, signs, feed station tables and bins as they get into "sweeper" mode. They do this until they reach Bride (52 miles). Their dedication to this process leaves no real indication that any event has actually taken place!
    At some point the van will be filled to the roof again meaning they need to return to Santon to empty the van in order to go back out and fill it up again!  They will eventually finish at about 01:30, having driven over 300 miles!

    As the 'behind the scenes' infrastructure increases year on year, in 2019 for the first time, John and Joan had to venture out on the Sunday morning because they simply didn't have room to collect all of the items on race day.

    They have been on the committee together since 2010.

    John has started the Parish Walk 9 times and has finished on 5 occasions in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 with a best time of 18:48:06 in 2008
    Joan has never competed but always suported John in his endeavours and she maintains that being a back-up crew is more difficult that actually walking!

    John's favourite part of the course as a walker - Douglas promenade leading to the finish line!

    Their favourite aspect from an organising perspective has to be the way in which the overall event is organised given its size and the complexity that generates but also they love the camaraderie between the walkers, supporters and officials throughout the day.