Happy New Year to all.
2011 closed on happy note with the arrival of a baby boy for my brother David and his wife Angela on the 29th December. They had a plan for who was going to look after their daughter (Elisa) when Angela went into labour, which involved either her mum or my mum and dad stepping in. Unfortunately, Angela's mum was ill and my mum and dad where away on holiday as the due date wasn't until 15th January. It was a bit of surprise when we received a panicked phone call about 2.20am asking if I could get round to their house quickly to look after Elisa, as the baby was on the way. As I drove up their road to David passed me in his car as things were starting to move very quickly. The baby was delivered at 2.37am!
I always think that New Years Eve is a bit overrated and therefore don't have particularly high expectations for a good night out. In fact the last few years we have stayed in and either done nothing or had my other brother and his wife round. This year Kyley and I decided to go to the Cat With No Tail with Ronnie and Karen Kelly and Ronnie's sister Janette and her husband Kevin. On the way to the Cat we stopped off at Jock and Teri Waddington's for a quick drink and caught up with a few fellow walkers. Jock, the two Dave's (Mackey and Walker) and I had been out training earlier in the day and we had been talking about the St John's Fell Race on New Years Day. The two Dave's had already said they were doing the run and Dave M was trying to talk me in to it. At this stage I was very non-committal as the memories of how hard the Boxing Day run was, were still fresh in my mind and this continued round at Jock's.
We headed up to the Cat With No Tail and Ronnie said that he was definitely going to do the race. A few drinks later not only had I agreed to take part, but also said I would do it in a tiger suit and had arranged to go around to Jeanette's house with Ronnie the following day to get our faces painted and whiskers added! A great night followed with lots of dancing on tables and I vaguely remember crawling in sometime after 4am, The following morning I woke up to a text from Dave M asking if 'Tony the Tiger wanted a lift to St Johns'. The realisation of what I had committed to the previous night then hit home. I can honestly say I have never felt any less like running then I did at that moment. The car journey out to St John's and then Dave M greeting me with "christ you look rough" didn't improve things for what would be my first fell race.
We all lined up on the field by St John's football club and after being advised to take it carefully on the downhill section due to the wet conditions, the starter set us off. The pace was immediately quite quick and I took a decision to take it easy to start with. Being fairly near the back of the field to start with and the fact that a lot of the immediate ascent was too steep to run up anyway, I was able to pick off a few people ahead of me just walking. After what felt like an age I reached the summit and decided to take a few risks on the descent. Watching some of the experienced fell runners descend at speed was very impressive and definitely an art. I managed to pick off a few more people on the way back down the hill and avoided slipping whilst crossing the river. The run definitely got rid of the hangover, but not a cure I would recommend! I've just read the write up on the Manx Fell Runners website and there were a record 148 people who took part. Congratulations to all, as beforehand I didn't appreciate how hard it would be.
Below is an action shot of me and Ronnie in our Tiger suits crossing the river at the start.
Finally, welcome to the third blogger Ed Walter. I spoke to Ed at a dinner at the Hilton Hotel a couple of months ago and it was immediately evident that he is very passionate about the Parish Walk, so his blog should be an interesting read.
Unfortunately, in this blog, I still haven't got round to writing about what motivated me to do the Parish Walk for the first time. I will cover this in my next one and actually write something about walking, instead of waffling on about my Christmas excesses and forays into running.