The Clerical Medical Parish Walk - featured walkers

Anne Oates - takes to the stage (or at least the platform!)


It was the statistics that took me to four times Parish Walk finisher Anne Oates who lives at Railway Terrace in Ballasalla - conveniently close to where I work in an office next to the station.

She started the women's race to Peel 11 times between 1985 and 2003 and finished every time with an average of 7 hours and 1 minute.  Since attempting the full distance for the first time in 2004, she has walked the 85 miles each time she has started.

Once on her stage (platform) we can draw back the curtain a little to see more of Anne's performances with a picture or two. The first one demonstrates her determination to finish the 100 miles at the National Sports Centre in Douglas in 2006.  Her leg seized up during her final "pit stop" and she walked for many miles leaning on one side in great discomfort.  She now thanks Ray Hughes for insisting that she didn't retire but "thanks" was not the word she had for him at the time!

Here is another photo of Anne in the 2006 Clerical Medical Parish Walk in which she set her personal best time of 19:16:42. Her four finishing times are:









On Anne's first full distance walk, time was not of the essence. As soon as she completed it, however, she set her sights on improving the following year.  With a one hour improvement at the second attempt and more than half an hour taken off that with her third finish, she went through the inevitable setback phase.  After completing the 100 miles two months later in 2006, and the End to End Walk when it was cut short due to the weather, she intended to do the Peel to Douglas Walk in December 2006, but that was cancelled, also due to the severe weather.  A succession of injuries and setbacks saw her miss the 2007 Parish Walk.  When she lined up for the 2008 Parish Walk she had a similar approach to 2004 - just to get round.

But now that she is firing on all cylinders again, she is determined to break 19 hours, if only by one second, in 2009. She has taken the advice of Gordon Corran and is working on her speed during the HSBC Winter League series where she was pictured above.  This approach served Gordon well in 2008 when he knocked 44 minutes off with 18:16:10 despite the awful weather.

Now that we have given her a stage and peered through the curtains, we need to shine a light on her to really get to know her. The light is provided by a few stories.

She was born a Kinvig at Ronague in 1956 and it was watching John Curphey train around the country lanes close to her home that first motivated her to take part. John was an inspiration to many after the former top Manx footballer, who nearly lost his legs in a motor cycle accident, finished the Parish Walk in 1978 and 1979 with a best time of 18:28:16.  Earlier this year, his son Neil married local runner Sarah Nelson.  Before concentrating on running, Sarah took part in the Parish Walk six times and in 2003 with dad Eric became the first father and daughter couple to complete the course together.

There were very few women taking part in the Parish Walk in the 80s however and, as for so many people of the era, Irene Corlett was also a great inspiration.

Anne moved to Ballasalla after the early passing of her father and she later started a family in the same village.  She was regularly seen pushing her children, Andrew and Ellen, into Castletown and the stalwart official Walter Kennaugh continued to encourage her to sign on the dotted line for the Parish Walk. When she finally put that training with the pram to good use in 1985 she easily reached her target of Peel with (what was to become) her regular support team of John and Voirrey Curphey.

Anne was very proud in 1985, not just with her own performance, but because her cousin Willie Corkill took the first leg of his Parish Walk hat-trick.  Willie is pictured four years earlier at St Johns in the Manx 20km championships. Anne had entered the Parish Walk with her friend Denise Quayle who arrived in Peel seven minutes after her but did not enter the race again.

By contrast, Anne chalked up 11 finishes in the women's race including 1994 when the walk was diverted to St Johns due to a road closure in Peel for the kart racing.  The details are:

German 1985 07:31:32
German 1986 07:03:07
German 1990 07:01:20
German 1991 07:00:29
German 1992 06:55:02
German 1993 06:45:32
St Johns 1994 06:48:26
German 1997 06:57:54
German 2001 07:12:45
German 2002 06:56:30
German 2003 07:04:30

So the story has taken us from Ronague to Ballasalla and found mention for Kinvig, Curphey, Kennaugh, Corlett, Corkill and Quayle. How Manx is that? Oh, and another cousin, Hilary, is married to Juan Kermode - the football fanatic from Ballasalla who reached Rushen in the 1975 Parish Walk but spoilt the Manx story by, for some reason, calling his house Goodison.

Another cousin, Geoff Kinvig, has taken part in the last two Parish Walks (reaching Ballaugh in 2007) and was pictured above in the 2007 End to End Walk with those two famous parish walkers Robbie Callister and Sean Hands who were on the feeding station outside the Harkin house at Corvalley.  Geoff's brother David got to Rushen in 1987 and his sister Audrey (now Fowler) reached Rushen in 1979, 2007 and 2008.

Whilst interviewing Anne we exchanged a bit of skeet about who was living where and who knew who so I was able to tell her that her cousin Audrey was Godmother to both our boys!  She put me in my place though by telling me that she was definitely not the Anne Oates who walked to Rushen in 1978 - needless to say she knows her namesake though.

Another Manx person to give Anne encouragement during her early years was Roey Crellin together with the slightly less Manx sounding Maureen Cox, Mick Holgate, Charlie Weston and Jean Oldroyd.

Although Anne was approaching 30 before she entered the Parish Walk, she was a very keen hockey and netball player from her school days onwards and was a founder member of the Ballasalla Netball Club in 1985. She regularly plays badminton.

Before turning the spotlight off Anne, there is just time to share a little of the limelight with her 12 year old granddaughter Danielle who is pictured above in the winter league (212) with Jessica Isherwood.

Murray Lambden - 31 December 2008

Photos by Murray except for Willie Corkill (Gwelda Lambden) and Geoff Kinvig (Eammon Harkin)



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