2009 Parish Walk Under Foot!

Once the roads were clear of motorcycles, another kind of race began on the Isle of Man — a 24-hour, 85-mile race-walk through all 17 parishes of the island.

More than 1,600 walkers began the 2009 Parish Walk, sponsored by Clerical Medical, in Douglas this morning to raise funds for local charities.

Here they are at the start at the National Sports Centre.

This isn’t a walk in the park. By evening, it will be a walk in the dark, but hopefully not in the rain. The walkers must pass 17 parish churches, where they are timed, before proceeding to the finish at around 8 am June 21.

Here they are passing through Braddan:

Last year’s winner, Jock Waddington, completed the race in an incredible 15 hours and 44 minutes. Seven hours into the race today, Waddington had already passed the 39 mile mark at Kirk Michael Church, along with Robbie Callister (16:09:12 in 2008). They were followed shortly by Janice Quirk (17:26:12 last year) and Ray Pitts (who didn’t complete the walk last year, but has been a “finisher” in six Parish Walks).

I should mention that all three men are over 40 and Ms. Quirk is a “veteran lady” somewhere north of 35.

The bulk of the walkers, more than 1,300, were stretched out for miles behind, with more than 1,300 making it beyond the 19-mile mark at Rushen Church.

Some walk alone, others in teams such as the Perree Bane Manx Dancers, Ballagyr Breakfast Club, Isle of Man Law Society and The Blisters Sisters.

Walkers aren’t required to complete the full 85-mile trek. They can retire at any point along the way. Check Manx Telecom’s timing page to see how they’re doing.

There are a couple of bloggers following the race — or walking themselves.

And a final view for now:

And to all the walkers, aigh vie erriu! (good luck on you!)