Canavan walks talk

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Gazette sportswriter Steve Canavan may not have completed his gruelling charity challenge on the Isle of Man, but he has raised plenty of money in a great cause and can boast that he “beat a British Olympian”.

Steve attempted the daunting Parish Walk, in which ultra-fit competitors attempt to complete 85 miles inside 24 hours.

Regular readers will know that Steve’s build-up to the big event was marred by a calf muscle strain on his final 45-mile training walk in Wrea Green, which threatened his participation across the Irish Sea.

But our Blackpool FC writer was determined that those long hours of training would not be in vain, and after some intensive treatment and physiotherapy he made the starting line in Douglas.

And although the injury eventually took its toll, Steve put in a sterling effort to walk for 14 hours and complete 52 of the 85 miles around the island.

And that was a lot further than former European, Commonwealth and World champion Roger Black, who also won an Olympic silver medal in the 400m 15 years ago.

Steve said: “I beat Roger Black, who dropped out after 16 miles, so at least I can say I beat a former Olympian.

“I’d been in physio all week but it definitely affected me. I had to walk with a big bandage on my leg but I was pleased that I got so far.

“There was great camaraderie between the competitors, which helped me on my way round the course,” added Steve, who entered with friend Gareth Jones from Lytham.

“Everyone was chatting to each other before and during the race, and there was a great atmosphere.”

Despite not finishing, Steve was in good company and was awarded an official position – a highly respectable 320th out of over 1,700 competitors.

He successfully completed the notorious Sloc, a steep and dangerous section 19 miles in, but there was a price to pay.

He added: “It was really tough. The pain stopped me sleeping on the night after the walk and I felt dreadful.”

Despite his ordeal Steve, hasn’t ruled out having another go.

“At the moment I would say no to doing it again – I’ve never had so many blisters in my life.

“But I do quite like challenges, so maybe in future I would do it again.

“But my plan now is to put my feet up at home, get an ice bucket out and watch some TV.”

First to finish in the Parish Walk was Manxman Jock Waddington, who became the first man to win four consecutive titles.

He completed the race in just over 15 hours and was one of 158 who completed this year’s challenge.

Steve would like to say a big thank you to for the free flights and to Mark Wilson, a Douglas hotelier and a Blackpool FC season ticket holder, who provided free accommodation and food for Steve and Gareth.

He also wants to thank everyone, including the many Gazette readers and Seasiders supporters, who sponsored him and offered their support.

All the money Steve collects will be split between The Gary Parkinson Fund and CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young).

He has so far raised around £1,300 but it isn’t too late to donate ... visit or click on the link at the top right of this article.