The Clerical Medical Parish Walk - featured walkers

Gordon Corran - it started with a sleepless night...now its his son who has the sleepless nights

 

Gordon Corran with his wife Elizabeth, the Parish Walk secretary. Its their 35th anniversary on 6 April.

When Gordon Corran first entered the Parish Walk, instead of being tucked up in bed the night before the event he was still in Tenerife!  He flew home at 3 am and reached Manchester at 7 am. He had so little time when he got back to the Island that he had to change in his son's car to ensure that he made it for the start, which he recalls was at 11.50 am that year.

1994 was the year that the Parish Walk was diverted to St Johns instead of passing through Peel because of a once only clash with kart racing.  He was probably pinching himself to ensure that he wasn't asleep because only a few years before that the idea of walking in the event had seen as far removed as a holiday in Tenerife would probably have been a few years before that.  

His wife Elizabeth had taken up walking and, although as the ever supportive husband he had done everything he could to encourage her, he admitted that he thought race walking to be "a bit weird".  But he told Ruth Sadler and Linda Kelly, Elizabeth's friends and rivals in the 90s, that he would go in the Parish Walk when Elizabeth gave it up.

He hadn't banked on that happening quite so soon. She didn't retire from walking but she was encouraged to take it more seriously and concentrate on the shorter distances. That she did with tremendous success and in 1996 she set a world age best at 20km in Bruges.

Gordon honoured his commitment in 1994 and reached St Johns. You guessed it - "never again" he said.  But Mick Holgate persuaded him that he had to demonstrate that it was no fluke and he not only made it to Peel in 1995 but also for the next three years. He improved every year and his best time in 1997 was 6:14:07.  He was keen to get on the veteran's podium, in those days the veterans awards were made on the results to Peel, but his best was fourth. He was only a minute behind third placed Les Brown on one occasion.

Not that Elizabeth had a quiet year in 1994 - she was supporting John Cannell who won the race with her sacrifice of a second night without sleep.

In 1998 Gordon took the plunge and decided to walk the whole course with his friend Dave Lockett. It was the year that the Centurion's 100 mile event was incorporated into the Parish Walk but if you wanted to walk the extra 15 miles up and down the promenade you had to pay an additional entry fee. Gordon didn't think that he would be back in Douglas in time to try so he missed his chance to walk 100 miles. He had no interest in walking 100 miles at the NSC in 2006.

With a time of 20:35:00 in year 1, he was to improve to 19:57:40 in 1999 (one of the very wet years) and 19:20:10 in 2000 with the support each year of his brother in law John Curtis.

He decided to take a break from the full distance in 2001, when he went to Peel, but came back with a vengeance in 2002 and 2003 when he reduced his time further to 19:00:42.

2003 at the Round Table

Gordon will be 58 in May and was born in St Georges Street in Douglas. Whilst he attended Ballakermeen School he ran cross country but didn't quite make the inter schools event for which qualification was eagerly sought in those days. He played football for St Marys for around 12 years and for Corinthians for a further 10 and he helped them to gain promotion and to win the Hospital Cup.

He is a plasterer by trade and has worked on his own for the past 25 years. His work is quite demanding and he decided that he couldn't do the Parish Walk every year. He may have insisted in the early years that he was not interested in his times but there was a strong drive to improve which sees him set out for his weekend training at 4 am, so that he has the rest of the day with the family.

He has always done a lot to assist his wife with the Clerical Medical Parish Walk and is well known as a marshal at events at the National Sport Centre and other Manx Harriers events.

So after an "easy" year to Peel in 2004, he made what he thought would be his last attempt at the full distance in 2005 when he was only 8 minutes and 40 seconds outside his personal best time.

2005 - on the way towards Bride

2006 saw the return of Elizabeth to the event and he helped her to her first full course finish.

He was to return himself in 2008 but with a new approach. The early morning walks were maintained but they were supplemented with much shorter sharper walks with Elizabeth who provided some coaching advice.

The result was that despite the worst ever conditions he smashed his best time by nearly 45 minutes. He now realises the value of technique and another bit of advice he offers is not to worry about the time at Peel which as 32 and a bit miles is fairly insignificant in an 85 mile walk. He recommends that Parish Walkers should enter the shorter races along the way to improve their speed and technique.

2008 - he didn't mind the rain.

So he will be giving his frail body another rest this year but he will be going for finish number 8 in 2010.  He wants to get his weight to 11 stone but that doesn't mean loosing it - he currently weighs in at just 10 stone 4 pounds.

Their son Stuart, who is well known in athletics as an Island Games hammer thrower and Manx record holder, and wife Nicola gave Gordon and Elizabeth their first grandchild, Olivia, nearly three years ago. Three days before I met with Gordon in his house in Wybourne Grove in Onchan their second grandchild arrived after an emergency Caesarian.  Lynette, who is married to their other son Stephen, gave birth to a boy, Lucas William.  I hope that they are as good without sleep as Gordon was in 1994.

Murray Lambden - 5 February 2009

St Johns

1994

07:02:02

German

1995

07:03:16

German

1996

06:35:05

German

1997

06:14:07

Finish

1998

20:35:00

Finish

1999

19:57:40

Finish

2000

19:20:10

German

2001

07:07:42

Finish

2002

19:31:02

Finish

2003

19:00:42

German

2004

06:40:44

Finish

2005

19:09:02

Finish

2008

18:16:10

Gordon Corran's Parish Walk record above. Don't mistake him for his near namesake Gordon Corrin. When somebody else did he accepted the handshake and congratulations for winning the End to End Walk!

 

Photos by Murray except for below (Corran family)

Gordon and Elizabeth Corran with grandson Lucas William

 

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