Erika Kelly on preparing for the Parish Walk 2022: Part 2

20 May 2022

In the last post, RL360 sponsored race walker Erika Kelly told us about the history of the Parish Walk and helped shine a light on why it’s the Island’s biggest mass participation community event.

In this post, Erika has compiled an invaluable list of tips and tricks from previous Parish Walk winners. If you’re competing in the Parish Walk and hoping to finish - or beat a personal best - then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to hear advice from the experts on how to prepare mentally and physically for this formidable challenge.

And if you’re gearing up to take part in the event, spare a moment to think about how you can help make the event more sustainable. Over the next 3 years, IFGL will be the Parish Walk Sustainability partner, helping to reduce waste so that the event leaves no trace on the surrounding countryside. Look out for the special waste disposal bins which will be placed around the course and take advantage of the reusable and compostable cups that will be available for you to use.

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.

Top tips from the experts…

Here are some top tips from key names who have regularly participated and completed the full 85-mile course:

  • Test food out in training that you plan to eat on the day. It’s key to find something you can eat no matter how sick you feel. Dave Walker’s go-to is rice pudding.
    - Adam Killip and Dave Walker
  • The more physical and mental preparation you can do before the Parish Walk, the better you will do. This could involve walking sections of the route in training to ensure you’re prepared for what you’ll encounter.
    - Paul Atherton (2021 Men’s Winner)
  • Regularly train in the clothes, footwear, and equipment you plan to use on the day, so you know what works for you and what doesn’t.
    - Karen Chiarello (Ladies Course Record Holder)
  • Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. To get around comfortably in a sub-20-hour time, you need to train and get a good quantity of miles in the legs in the months prior to the event.
    - Jock Waddington
  • The Parish Walk is a very demanding physical test but having the mental endurance and pushing yourself beyond what you initially think is your limit is the key to finishing. The first year I took part in the Parish Walk, I stopped at Andreas church because I was tired, in pain and my body was telling my mind not to continue. Half an hour later I regretted the decision, as I realised I’d given up too easily and could have suffered a lot more!
    - Richard Gerrard (Men’s Course Record Holder)
  • Make your training worthwhile – use the time you have wisely. I have two children so had to get the miles in when I could. Short, fast walks are just as productive as pounding the streets for hours on end.
    - Sammy Bowden (2021 Ladies Winner)
  • When training for the event, mix up your pacing. For example, walk shorter distances faster and longer distances steadier. Make sure to train on hills as there are plenty of them on the Parish Walk course and consider finding a friend or group to walk with as this can keep you accountable and motivated ahead of the big day and during the event.
    - Elizabeth Corran
  • Vaseline is your friend. There’s nothing worse than chafing which can be easily avoided.
    - Karen Chiarello and Jock Waddington
  • Choose your support crew very, very carefully. If you want to finish, then it’s important that they also share your ambition. They need to be committed and dependable and ideally have a bit of a bossy streak. When you are struggling you want them to encourage you and make sure you carry on. If they are tired and bored, they will jump at the chance to encourage you to stop, bundle you in the car and head home to bed. Due to the suffering they will have to ignore and even encourage, your nearest and dearest are rarely the best candidate for Parish Walk support crew.
    - Steve Partington
  • Be prepared for blisters and pain but remember - no matter how sore something is, try not to worry as another pain will soon come along to take your mind off the previous one.
    - Dave Walker
  • Never be afraid to train in bad weather – it prepares you significantly for whatever the conditions will be thrown at you on the day of the event. Pack kit for all weather conditions!
    - KC Chiarello (Ladies Course Record Holder)
  • Focus on one church/parish at a time.
    - Elizabeth Corran
  • Don’t worry about the training that other people are doing and try not to compare yourself to what you may see on social media outlets like Strava. On the day, you’re walking your own race.
    - Sammy Bowden (2021 Ladies Winner)