My first serious Parish foray was in 2000. Playing for us at Laxey then was Lee Partington, a skilful midfielder who helped set us on our way to the glory of later years. His brother Steve was an occasional spectator and had just set up a charity in memory of his son Jack. I think that was the year that he and Cal ran a series of Marathons from Liverpool down to London, and then completed the London Marathon.
So about 25 club members, players, helpers and ladies entered the Parish Walk together to raise funds for the charity. We started at the Villa that day, and we all wore our Laxey kit, and started from the back.
Top Tip: Always start at the back - the views are much better. And you spend the day overtaking everyone, a great psychological boost. I may even have done a couple of Parishes when I have never been overtaken at all.
(Top Tip for a Good Time - DON'T Start At The Back)
Anyway, in 2000 on the way towards Rushen I walked with George Lawson, Dave Callow and Barry Williams. On a crowded pavement just after Ballasalla, I tripped and fell and broke a finger.. Stubborness always overrules fractures in my experience, so I carried on, my hand and shirt bloodied, and helpers amongst the spectators handing me tissues every so often to soak up the blood.
And so to the Sloc. The Sloc in Parish folklore is like a fabled monster. Just the words, "The Sloc" conjure up some evil presence. It certainly did it's job in splitting up the four of us, but it was nowhere near the monster I had imagined. Those Who Know will know that Ballakillowey and Ballajora are the Real Monsters. Going down hill into Dalby was far worse than the Sloc, and the feet were getting very painful.
As I walked from Dalby to Glen Maye, a big blister under the ball of my left foot burst, and I was in agony - the result being a very debilitating limp. Fortunately, a mile or so later, the big blister under the ball of my right foot burst, and the pain was evened up, so I was able to plough on, limping with both feet equally - and that equals walking normally, but with a pained grimace on your face.
I have learned to totally ignore the pain of blisters. You just pretend it is happening to someone else. I was once told that blue-eyed people have a higher pain threshold, so I make it so. It is probably rubbish, but it works for me as long as I keep believing.
So, with no limp to hold me back, and a quick infusion of a Lucozade Sport, I suddenly started to pick up pace and picked off a load of people on the way to Peel. I finished second of the Laxey crowd, with Michael Cowin - Chippy - already there a few minutes ahead of me. He always had a good engine as a footballer and I am sure he would have been a more than useful walker if he had taken it up. My time was somewhere around 7 hours 40. Of course, the post walk warm-down was a few pints in the Creek, followed by even more later at the Mines in Laxey. It was a great day out for everyone, good for the Club morale, and we raised money for Running For Jack.
And that started the bug for me really - the feet were a mess, but the last few miles into Peel had been a real buzz. I was definitely going to have another go. Maybe even train for it...
I have only trained twice since doing the Winter Walking League at Andreas the Sunday before last. Work has got in the way, in particular the Tynwald sitting this week. We sat until 12.30am (from 10.30am) on Wednesday debating the re-structure of Government, and the other two days went on until late in the evening. There was an amendment which could have led indirectly to the privatisation of the NSC and the Sports Development Unit, so I spoke against that, pointing out that private ownership would scupper all the wonderful voluntary work being done, and the work, especially with children, being done by Sports Council, Sport Aid and the NSC staff.
And for those interested in bodily secretions, the Great Snot continues. The less I train, the worse it gets. Must get Training......