The Clerical Medical Parish Walk - featured walkers

Dave Mackey - first finish was faster than all the winners this millennium (on their first finish)

Dave Mackey earns his living in the tourism industry and was pictured outside the Villa Marina following his attendance at a Department of Tourism seminar on 27 March.


In 1996 Peter Kaneen completed a lap of the Parish Walk course in 20:28:43; Robbie Callister was 18:44:28 in 2000; Sean Hands took 20:42:38 in 2002 and in 2005 Jock Waddington covered the 85 miles in 21:41:53.

And what is the significance? The times above are the first time finishes of the only four walkers to have won the Parish Walk during this millennium. Dave Mackey completed his first finish in 2008 in 18:03:07.

Dave reckons that he owes this time to Mark Hempsall - without him he would have gone quicker! After a steady start, he started to move through the field and was third fastest on the section from Ballaugh to Jurby and fifth fastest on the notorious Jurby to Bride section.  Mark Hempsall was urging him to take it easy. At the time Dave attributed this to his desire to avoid him "blowing up" but after he finished five minutes behind Mark's 2007 time he claimed it was a deliberate attempt for Mark to stay ahead of his friend in the Saddlestone rankings!

He finished 13th in the awful June day and night that will be for ever remembered for the extreme weather but it was much luckier than the previous year when he "only" reached Lezayre.  He entered in 2007 fully expecting to get around at the very first attempt aged 39.  Amazingly he claims to have not even known about the Parish Walk a year before that.  "I watched Sean Hands break the record on Sky TV in 2006 and it inspired me to have a go in 2007" he told me inside the Villa Marina today.  "So I asked my father-in-law, Dave Capelen, all about it and he suggested I did some other events first".

His first event turned out to the last - of the Boundary Stroll.  Held since 1961, the 25km walk around the centre of the Isle of Man was deemed to be too dangerous after the 2006 walk in which Dave made his race walking debut.

He entered the End to End Walk a few weeks later - the year when bad weather caused the walk to be shortened.  He then went into the winter league walks where, when he won the first two rounds of the handicapped series, he was mistaken by Isle of Man Newspaper Editor John Watterson for another former footballer with a similar name.

Dave had retired from football at the age of 28 and had not taken part in athletics since school days when, in his own words, he had been thrashed by the late David Teece.

His name had appeared in the papers plenty of times, however, when he left school and started work as a trainee journalist in the old Examiner / Manx Star offices in Hill Street.  He spent a year in much better working conditions working in the Income Tax Office before his father, who ran the Ascot Hotel, suggested that he joined the family business.

He has now been working at the Ascot for 21 years and, although his father is still involved, has progressively taken more and more responsibility.  Married to Kerry, he has two children Lee (aged 8) and Keira (aged 7).

He doesn't really know where his enthusiasm for long distance walking came from given his lack of desire to compete over anything longer than a lap of the track when he was at school.  I would struggle to name anyone more enthusiastic about the event.  A keen visitor to and  I have been relieved that he has not been one of the people unable to access the forum - I don't think he could live without the access to what is going on in the sport.

I bumped into him the day after his Parish Walk success last year and he was extremely happy. He was almost as happy today having set a big personal best of 28:52 for 5km the night before. Having started faster than Hands, Callister, Waddington and Kaneen the question is can he improve as much as them?

I'm not sure about that but a "podium finish" in the years ahead is a distinct possibility. But he needs the "silver medal" to beat his great hotelier rival Michael George.  Michael, who runs the Welbeck Hotel close by, finished third in 2007 but is giving the Parish Walk a miss in 2009.  Dave has known Michael since he was 14.  Last night race walking judge Steve Taylor compared his progress to that of Michael a couple of years ago.  That's a great credit to Dave and to his coach Elizabeth Corran.

Murray Lambden - 27 March 2009

Dave made his debut in the 2006 Boundary Stroll  and is pictured in the white t-shirt behind Marie Gilbertson (20).  Dave's father-in-law Dave Capelen (9) persuaded him to have a go.


Dave (205) with Dave Thorlow during the 2006 End to End Walk.

Two miles into his Parish Walk debut in 2007 (329)

A year later at Braddan (756)

Following the action in the 2008 White & Healthy End to End Walk


All photos by Murray Lambden



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