The Scottish Widows Parish Walk
Start time: 8 am on 25 June 2011
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Chris Cale: Up and walking to 8 finishes
Chris Cale may have retired from football with St Georges when he was just 15 but he has not retired from the Parish Walk since 2002. Only ten walkers in the history of the event have more consecutive finishes since a mixture of salt and vinegar crisps, vegetable soup and a big bag of sweets during a 20 minute stop at Andreas set him up for the first of eight finishes. He was sick four times in the race - although that was before and not after that wonderful concoction!
He enjoyed his football but he found his lack of height too much of a disadvantage, something that has not inhibited the 39 year old's race walking. In fact its someone of his own stature he has taken advice from in his quest to improve his personal best (17:38:46 from 2009) to his dream of walking sub 17 hours.
"Graham Young may have finished 4th in the 1974 Commonwealth Games" said Chris from the Up & Running shop he recently opened with business partner Lisa Motley "but he was unbelievably helpful with his advice last year. Like so many people I have not yet paid enough attention to technique but the sport is just so wonderful and friendly and this is typified by the way the second fastest British walker ever over the 100 km (62 miles) is prepared to advise me for so freely."
"It was the same too with Robbie Callister" he continued. "I remember talking to him at a winter league walk race at St Johns in December 2004. He told me that it was only by walking faster over shorter distances that I would improve my Parish Walk times. He was right but just being able to get help from one of the most successful parish walkers of all time was part of the reason I managed to improve by two hours for each of the next two years."
Its impossible to get Chris to say anything less than positive about athletics and he is particularly enthusiastic about the Parish Walk which he first entered in 1997 intending to walk to Peel but feeling so good he continued to Bride.
On that occasion, however, he lost his confident mood after Jurby and hated the seven mile stretch before his retirement. He made it to Andreas, Jurby (a wet year) and Andreas again in the next three years before missing two Parish Walks before and after his marriage to Michelle (who has recently taken part in the winter league walks) in 2000.
Before he started walking, and during that break, he was a keen angler and beach fishing remains a passion although he is also keen on kayak fishing.
That first finish in 2003, 16 minutes inside the time limit, he remembers with the most joy but 2004 will always be special for the company he kept during the walk. Lisa Motley who he was working with him at the Bank of Bermuda persuaded him to train with her and they pushed each other through their bad patches in the race. For Lisa this was at Kirk Michael where she had retired the previous year. They finished together with a very dear friend, Mark Freeman, who sadly passed away very recently at just 50 years of age, close behind.
Mark Freeman with Chris and Lisa before thet start of the 2004 Parish Walk
Mark was the inspiration for their new business. "He had long dreamed of setting up a sports shop in the Isle of Man" said Lisa. "After Chris and I (along with more than 100 others) were given our redundancy notices at HSBC Securities Services in April 2009 it was an idea I developed with him. Regrettably he wasn't able to join me. I needed a partner and Chris fitted the bill perfectly."
Chris with business partner Lisa Motley at the Up & Running shop in Bucks Road
Robbie Callister may have provided his motivation to improve by two hours in 2005 but it was his turn to dish out the advice in 2006 - to Jock Waddington no less. "When I passed him just before Ramsey I suggested he tried some chicken wings". Jock has certainly been flying ever since and it is with Chris that he does much of his training. They generally train three times a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and once at the weekend. They have a staple diet not just of chicken wings, which remain one of Jock's favourites, but of sticking to familiar 11 mile courses from Douglas around Groudle and Whitebridge Hill.
And 2006 was his most memorable all round year when he also finished the 100 miles and the Dublin Marathon in 3 hours and 22 minutes, not to mention the Ramsey Bakery End to End Walk in which he has clocked up seven finishes.
100 miler in 2006
In 2007 he was well below par with a back injury and 2008 and 2010 races are remembered for the same reasons as by everyone else who completed in those years. "When the rain came in 2008 I was just determined not to let it beat me and it was hard to imagine that a couple of years later I would be pouring more water over me than I was drinking to overcome the heat."
A few months ago he climbed his biggest mountain to date - Kilimanjaro! He was with a group of Manx athletes including Mike Gellion, Roey Crellin and John Hunter.
With better conditions in 2009 he was closer to his peak and it's now only a molehill he has to climb to break 17 hours in June.
Murray Lambden - 30 November 2010
Chris Cale's Parish Walk gallery
2003: At Dalby on his way to his first finish in 23:43:24 (112) with Graham Kelly (56) and John Tyson (529)
2006: Darkness is descending as he leaves Ramsey just ahead of Jock Waddington to improve his personal best time by nearly two hours in 18:24:56
2007: Striding up the hill at Ballakillowey
2008: Just before the rain, we was in good company with the eventual top three men Robbie Callister (runner up), winner Jock Waddington and third placed Maurice Bellando
2009: Chris reaches Peel on his way to his best time to date - 17:38:46
2010: Smiling after his 8th consecutive finish in 17:49:03
Chris Cale's Parish Walk record
Photos by Richard Jamieson (2008) Mike Lambden (2007) Murray Lambden (all others)
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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. Some of the 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