THE Isle of Man’s biggest participant sporting event of the year will again break more records when the 50th Scottish Widows Parish Walk starts at the NSC tomorrow morning.
Another record entry - this time 1,710 - has been accepted for the landmark staging of one of the most challenging sporting occasions in Europe, with a number of overseas competitors once again attracted to take on the tough 85 miles route covering the Island’s 17 parishes.
Perfect weather conditions are forecast for the weekend. The forecast for the weekend is dry with sunny intervals on both Saturday and Sunday, but not too hot with a maximum daytime temperature of around 17C (63F).
The official starter of the event this year is the Olympic silver medallist Roger Black who arrived on the Island today (Friday) to promote the Parish Walk on behalf of sponsors Scottish Widows, the new parent company of Clerical Medical who have sponsored the Parish Walk for the last 20 years.
Starting as race favourites are last year’s winner Jock Waddington and his main challenger, five times winner Robbie Callister, bidding to equal John Cannell’s record six wins. Record holder Sean Hands has not entered and last year’s ladies race winner Janice Quirk and 4th placed Sue Biggart are both surprise non-starters.
However, there are any number of top class walkers who are capable of winning the Parish Walk for the first time, particularly if injury hits Waddington or Callister. These include last year’s third placed Mark Hempsall, Michael George, Eammon Harkin, Alan Cowin, Ray Pitts and regular Dutch competitor Martijn Biesmans.
In the ladies class the battle is now wide open and should be between Maureen Moffatt, who finished 3rd lady last year and 16th overall, and Shirley Gage, who finished 21st overall in 2009.
There are also various junior and team awards to be won and virtually everyone taking part is hoping to raise money for charity, raising tens of thousands of pounds. This year’s chosen four charities for fund raising are British Heart Foundation, Robert Owen House, Hospice Isle of Man and Isle of Man Wooden Spoon, although many other good causes will also once again benefit from the event.
Photographs of the event, including the finishers, will appear on the www.isleofman.com website throughout the event. We will also be providing regular updates on the leading positions throughout the 24 hours.
Last year the winner Jock Waddington finished in 15 hours 45 minutes 46 seconds, which means that this year’s winner can be expected to cross the finishing line at the War Memorial on Douglas Promenade at around 11.30pm. Competitors are given 24 hours to complete the 85 miles route, which means they have until 8am on Sunday morning to finish.