The Scottish Widows Parish Walk
Start time: 8 am on 26 June 2010
Malcolm Newton and the wave to his wife that took him to five Parish Walk finishes
Malcolm Newton has finished the Parish Walk five times. But would it have happened had a wave to his wife been correctly interpreted?
He first entered the walk in 2001, when he retired before reaching Kirk Michael, and in 2002 he called it a day at Jurby. In 2003 he had high hopes of completing the course but he started to flag around the northern parishes.
At Maughold he waved to his wife Margaret that he intended to call it a day but she misunderstood the wave and drove on for another two miles! Malcolm recovered his stride after the Ballajora climb and changed his mind about retirement walking all of those famous 85 miles.
Although in two subsequent years he failed to finish (2004 and 2007) he had learnt the most important lesson of the Parish Walk - don't give up too soon. He has now finished five times.
You would not have expected such a communication problem with Margie because they clearly have a special understanding. Malcolm was teaching in Tanzania in the late 1970s and he learnt about a young Manx lady who teaching in the same country. He started writing to her and, although he only met her once in Tanzania, he returned to the Isle of Man in February 1981. By October of the same year they were married.
Margie was born a Kinvig and was brought up on the farm at the Cooil. Malcolm is a year younger than brother Dave the 1978 Commonwealth Games marathon runner who is so still so well known on the Manx athletics scene.
Home at the Cooil
Malcolm and Margie live at the Glebe Cottage at the Cooil which was one of the cottages on the family farm. They have four children. Katie is 26 and was married the weekend before my interview with Malcolm; Rebekah, who has competed in the Mann & Partners Millennium Way Relay is 24; Peter is 22 and Andrew (also well known as an athlete of many years standing) is 20.
Whilst Dave was winning cross country races at school Malcolm claimed to be bringing up the rear of the field. He did not enjoy sport at school too much until Brian King (then a PE teacher but later deputy head at St Ninians High School) took him and another student diving whilst in the 6th form. He knows that health and safety regulations would prevent any student of the current generation having the chances to go diving at sea that he enjoyed.
In 1972 he left the Isle of Man to study Electrical Engineering at Loughborough. Although he was brought up attending the Catholic Church at St Marys it was whilst studying at university that he found the strength of faith that he retains to this day. He felt a calling to serve God in Tanzania upon graduation.
On returning to the Isle of Man he found work in the Music Box (an independent Manx record shop) for a time before taking up a teaching post at Castle Rushen High School where he stayed for three and a half years.
In 1985 he started teaching Electrical Engineering at the Isle of Man College, a role he still performs to this day.
Perhaps some of his life had become too comfortable for him though and he got a shock one day when he was forty. He ran up two flights of stairs and was shattered. He decided it was time to start getting fit. He began walking and jogging for he couldn't run very far. He combined his early morning fitness sessions with his prayer and he started his prayer walks.
In 2001 a friend, Lloyd Shipstone, was raising funds for Uganda in the Parish Walk and he persuaded Malcolm to join him. His time to Peel was actually much faster than the official one of 9 hours and 21 minutes when he "crawled" off to his car without his time being recorded as a finisher.
In common with so many others he only had two words to say after his first Parish Walk - "never" and "again".
But he reached Jurby in 2002 and although he felt he could have gone further he didn't think he could manage the lonely seven miles to Bride. The story of 2003 is told above but in 2004 he failed to add enough clothing as he got cold and had to call it a day at Bride after vomiting.
2004 at the Round Table
In 2005 he reduced his 2003 finishing time by almost an hour and a half. He was not much faster to Peel but he gained time over the remainder of the course - and of course all signals to Margie were correctly interpreted!
There was another big improvement in 2006 when he broke the 20 hour barrier by 21 seconds. In 2007 he went a bit too fast before Peel and suffered on the coast road to Kirk Michael and failed to reach the next check point after more sickness.
2007 at Braddan with Gill and David Churcher
Although he didn't enjoy the very wet conditions of 2008 he had much more sympathy for his supporters who stayed with him than for himself as he recorded finish number four, albeit he was almost back to his 2005 time.
Limited visibility in 2008
He set another personal best in 2009 and I looked for the reason. I learnt that although he prays throughout the walk it is not for himself but for the churches. He admits that the quality of his prayers is much higher for the churches in the early part of the course than the later stages when his mind as well as his body tires.
He thought that the progress was actually due to training with a fellow lecturer at the Isle of Man College, Michael Bonney. Although the total training distance didn't vary very much he trained shorter but more often.
He was a proud member of the winning team that included Richard Gerrard and Selwyn Callister as well as Michael and himself.
Malcolm Newton's Parish Walk record
There is only one number that Malcolm is interested to see when his Parish Walk record is updated. There has to be an 18 in the hour field even if the seconds are 59 in both cases. I'll be there before 3 am on Sunday 27 June 2010 to record the update.
Murray Lambden - 29 November 2009
Going the other way - the coast road between Peel and Kirk Michael in the 2009 White & Healthy End to End Walk
All photos by Murray Lambden
parishwalk.com is a part of manxathletics.com an independent site designed, edited and funded by Murray Lambden The event is organised by Manx Harriers and sponsored by Scottish Widows neither of whom are responsible for the content of the site. The official entry forms, race information and results are published here on behalf of the organisers together with independent pictures, statistics and general information compiled by the editor. The links to the live timing provided by SPORTident and sponsored by Manx Telecom are on a separate computer and not controlled by the editor. He is, however, grateful to both parties for making the information available to him. Thanks to the Parish Walk committee of Manx Harriers for organising a great event.. Murray's Parish Walk Blog