First though, congratulations to Angie. For sheer determination, and being the ultimate Superwoman, no-one will ever beat her. Six finishes now, on top of all her work for charity, holding down about seven jobs and as Supermum bringing up a delightful - though on Saturday less athletic than her - family. It wasn't easy out there and she showed what commitment can do.
Congratulations also to Dave Walker, for a first finish in a remarkable time. I watched his progress through the evening and night on the Live Timing, and I suspect he has a story to tell of his last few hours. A brilliant first time finishing performance. Also congratulations to Jock for such a storming performance and to everyone else who finished this year in difficult conditions.
Several people I know, who I thought were certainties to finish, didn't make it and the lower number of finishers shows how attritional conditions were on Saturday.
Now for my excuses. I was very disappointed not to finish. I started off this blog signalling that I wanted to break 20 hours, but I knew that with my knee injury I would be unlikely to. We also started right at the back and took nearly 20 minutes to get through the first mile, so the aim was then just to finish.
Because of my knee I had to drag my left leg up Ballakillowey and the Sloc, and on each hill I lost touch with my walking partners. I just could not keep up the speed on the hills - however, my Winter Walking League exploits stood me in good stead, as on the flat I was able to 'sprint' and catch up with Kevin and co. But the effort of that way of walking, slow on hills, too much effort on the flats, was physically very draining.
The prospect of perhaps walking through the night without Kevin, led to the appearance of a nasty little voice which kept whispering to me "Peel". "Peel". And once the doubts start, they are hard to quell.
The effort of dragging the leg, and falling behind really drained me mentally as well as physically and that voice got louder and louder. I hated that voice. Also, for family reasons, I should have been elsewhere this weekend and the other doubting voice were the words of my Doctor to "listen to your body".
As I have said in earlier posts, finishing the Parish is mostly mental, and if you are not 100% mentally committed, you will fail. Kevin carried on after Peel but stopped at Kirk Michael, with cramped thighs, and probably boredom. I really let Kevin down because if I hadn't have given in to my 'Stop at Peel' Voice we probably would both have finished.
On arrival at Peel I had my legs massaged by a lovely lady and it was wonderful. When she had finished I was invigorated, the tiredness had gone from my legs, I was totally refreshed, and I really was ready to carry on. Too late, as I had officially retired. I think next year, a massage at Peel might be a good tactic before carrying on.
Also, because of the massage I have had no stiffness after the event, or even today.
So what lessons have been learned for next year?
1. Train a lot more on hills - I have not been able to do that for the last three months. I usually train a lot around Glen Roy and I felt the lack of that work in the climb after Rushen.
2. Sort out injuries before you walk. Mental doubts are exacerbated if your expectations are lowered because of injury.
3. Feet - Wrapping Compede around my toes worked - a tip from Carl Senogles. However, my heels and balls of feet are well blistered and would have been a real mess if I had carried on. I need to find a way of sorting out the Blistered Foot problem. Maybe losing a stone or so would help.
4. The Winter Walking League was a real help. I was able to accelerate when I needed to and relied less on the steady plod.
5. Leave Rushen with a good supply of energy drinks and gels. I messed up on that and went through the heat over the Sloc with just water, and I think I needed a bigger boost than that.
My son Richard, beat me to Peel, as did Olivia Graham, my niece and daughter of Kevin. She was totally fresh and could be a future star. My daughter Rose also finished at Peel. She walked with a friend from University who had never been to the Island before, and who had no conception of what the Parish was about.
He also finished at Peel, and viewing the event through his eyes, I was so proud of the Island on Saturday. He saw how well the Parish was organised, the great camaraderie of the event, and was amazed at the roadside support and the kindness of people. We almost take it for granted but when viewed through the eyes of a stranger, the Parish is truly a wonderful event.
Thanks to all the stalwarts who you see time after time manning crossing points, and the organisers who make it that wonderful event.
Finally thanks to Murray for the huge amount of work he does, both on the website and in other ways. I am very grateful to him for the chance to burble along about an event I have come to love. The blog has had nearly 5500 hits which is startling.
I might keep it going, although tales of political shenanigans will be no match for finding out about the progress of a Wounded Knee or The Great Snot......
Thanks for taking the time to read my nonsense.