Only hours to go until the Parish now - and I thought I would tell the story of my second finish in 2003. It is told, not to inspire, but to let you first time hopefuls know that anything is possible.
Once again I approached finishing in a less than serious way - i.e. Not Enough Training.
I walked with Kevin Graham, getting to Peel in about 7 hours 30 - which has proved to be a reasonable pace, and leaves enough energy for later on.
By the time I got to Peel my feet were in agony. I stopped on the ascent out of Peel and took my trainers off to have a look, and saw a soggy mess. It looked serious, and as I said before, only my exposure to numerous post mortems over the years got me through that moment. I put the trainers back on and plodded on, putting each foot down exactly straight, and very carefully. When your feet are in a mess like that, or heavily blistered, it is agony to change direction, or to stop and start.
I was able to switch my mind off to the pain and we made good progress. Somewhere around Ramsey I realised I was having trouble standing up straight, and tried to walk in the crown of the road as walking on any sort of angle was a problem.
By the time we got to the Dhoon, my back was in serious trouble, I was lurched over sideways and had no real control of the direction of my feet. A can of Red Bull gave me enough energy to get from the Dhoon down into Laxey, but after that I struggled. Kevin went on ahead and I climbed slowly up Pinfold Hill, and then made a final effort up to Lonan Church. My wife was waiting with the car at Ballacannell to take me home after I got back from the Church. I made it up to Lonan Church by hanging on to the cars parked on the road.
Checking us in at Lonan was local athlete John Wright. I said to John, "I am knackered, I can't go on." He said the worst words possible to me, "No-one's ever packed in at Lonan before".
Bastard. (I think I said that out aloud).
So I struggled back down the hill, declined the offer of the longed for lift home, and trundled down into Baldrine. I had to hold the wall on the climb up out of Baldrine, and on the Whitebridge, climbed part of it on my hands and knees.
I lurched down Royal Avenue, stumbled into the Port Jack chippy, and then went the length of the Promenade holding onto the railings. I only let go when I saw the cameras at the finish and stood up straight. The picture shows me anything but straight.
The point of all that saga is, that although my feet were a mess, the back pain was far worse, and the feet were in effect a smaller problem.
After I got home, I realised my feet were beyond the pale, and there was a certain smell in the air which somehow made me think of the word "gangrene" so I rang my son, who just before taking me to hospital, took the now infamous pictures, which are now on web-sites across the world, and even appeared in the lads magazine, FHM.
The final, and worst pain, was when they put my feet in a bowl of water at Nobles - which caused pain like I have never experienced before or since. I knew the Doctor well, and he said words to the effect of "Serves you right, no-one needs to walk that far, that's why God invented motor bikes."
There was a lot more to the story of that night, and my tale of finishing owes nothing to bravery and a lot to stupidity. And to John Wright.
So, to all first timers, anything is possible - and all you need to do to finish is to just keep going, one foot after the other.
Ignore the pain, enjoy the thrill of a Finish.