Erika Kelly on preparing for the Parish Walk 2022: Part 1

13 May 2022

This year the Parish Walk will take place on June 18, with around 1400 people taking part. It’s a uniquely Manx event, during which competitors attempt to cover a formidable 85-mile course in 24 hours.

It’s the Island’s biggest mass participation community event and one that IFGL has a hand in supporting as Sustainability Partner. IFGL owns the RL360, FPI and Ardan International brands and we employ approximately 500 people across our Isle of Man offices in Douglas and Castletown.

In light of our partnership, RL360-sponsored race walker Erika Kelly decided to put together a comprehensive guide to the Isle of Man Parish Walk. Do you know how the Parish Walk started, or why people compete in it? Read on to find out more.

What is the Parish Walk?

The parish walk is an 85-mile (137km) walking event, which takes you through each of the 17 parishes on the Isle of Man – Braddan, Marown, Santon, Malew, Arbory, Rushen, Patrick, German, Michael, Ballaugh, Jurby, Bride, Andreas, Lezayre, Maughold, Lonan and finally Onchan. This year the event is due to take place on 18/19 June.

The walk is thought to date back to 1852 but it wasn’t until 17 September 1853 that the first man, John Cannell, was reported to be the first person to check in at each of the Parish churches within 24 hours – clocking a time of 23 hours and 45 minutes. There was only ever one further sub-24-hour time documented in the nineteenth century before the event became more established from 1960 onwards with a route that is comparable to the one that exists today.

Entrants are provided with electronic timing equipment when registering, which assists to record the time each participant passes through each parish, in addition to providing details of current ranking positions. Moreover, each parish checkpoint maintains specific cut-off windows and the timing system serves to regulate when participants will be allowed to continue and when they need to be withdrawn from the race.

The current course record is held by IFGL’s very own Richard Gerrard, who recorded a time of 14:40:08 in 2015.

The fastest woman to complete the course was Karen Chiarello who walked 15:53:54 in 2017.

Why walk the Parish Walk?

The Parish Walk is an inclusive event open to all abilities, but with a minimum age of 18 to take part in the short course to Peel (32.5 miles) and 21+ to enter the full course.

People enter the Parish Walk for a number of reasons:

Some thrive off the challenge that the event poses which can range from wanting to achieve checking in at one parish only to all 17, whilst others may hope to target getting to check-points in targeted time goals.

For some, the Parish Walk and the months of training involved, provide a goal of improving health and wellbeing. The physical and mental health benefits of exercise and walking specifically are heavily researched and include the release of feel-good endorphins to boost mood, improved sleep, more energy, better cardiac health and lowered risk associated with Type-2 diabetes.

Others have been known to use the event as a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and money for charity.

Ultimately, the Isle of Man is a beautiful place and the Parish Walk route takes you to many idyllic scenes at almost every turn.

Watch out for part 2 where there will be expert tips from previous Parish Walk winners…