STELLA CORLETT - SHE HAS BEATEN STEVE PARTINGTON, NOW TO CATCH UP WITH HUSBAND ROY!

Stella and Roy Corlett pictured at their home in Douglas in February

 

When Roy Corlett finished the Parish Walk for the fifth consecutive year in 1985 you would have thought he would have had a bigger place in the history of the event.

At the time, only one walker had a similar five year finishing streak and that was Steve Gardner between 1975 and 1979 as part of his (then) record of 10 finishes. John Cannell and Derek Harrison had 6 and 7 finishes respectively at that time out of the 8 that each was to record but not 5 in a row. Nor did John Adair who had 6 finishes between 1964 and 1973.

Roy recorded two runner up finishing positions, two third places and a fourth and when he completed his five year streak Anthony Kneale only had three finishes to his name, David Collister two and Ray Hughes his first one.

Time

Year

Position

19:36:08

1981

3

18:31:43

1982

2

18:23:35

1983

4

17:56:37

1984

2

18:32:46

1985

3

Roy, like his brothers Alan and Dickie, was a stalwart member of the Union Mills based Boundary Harriers club, who organised most of the race walking events on the Isle of Man before their merger with Manx AC in 1990 to form Manx Harriers. Dickie's wife Irene, is the best known of all the Corlett family in athletics terms for her 100 mile walks, Parish Walk wins and her Manx marathon wins.

Both Roy and wife Stella played badminton for the club but Stella was only an occasional walker. She completed every section of the old four part TT Course Relay Walk (in different years!) and turned out occasionally in the winter league walks but that was about all.

Her involvement, apart from being a key fund raiser and worker for the club, was largely to back Roy up in his long distance walks. No easy task when you consider that in 1981 he was lying flat out on the hedge on the Sloc with back problems but he still made his debut finish. After that she never doubted that he would finish if he said he would.

It was back problems that caused Roy to call time on his Parish walking although he did make it to Jurby without any serious training in 1988.  He did not support the merger of the two clubs (although he concedes now that it was the right thing to do) and he largely withdrew from the athletics scene. He is still hugely involved with badminton.

His race walking career included membership of the famous Centurions club when he finished the 100 miles in Leicester in 1982. Roy became Centurion 737, although someway behind the great Irene. "Team Corlett" was out in force as Stella and Dickie provided the backup.

The exception to their withdrawal from the athletics scene was that Roy and Stella continued to assist with the Parish Walk. Thousands of walkers will have had their name recorded at Kirk Michael Church where they recorded every year until Stella decided to have a go.

After reaching German and Jurby in 2002 and 2003 she completed the whole course for the first time in 2004. It was more painful than even the average one as she suffered from vomiting and looked to be running out of time in the northern parishes, just sneaking through before the cutoff at Maughold. A determined effort saw her reach the finish with a little over a quarter of an hour to spare.

Here comes the bit that appears in every feature about Parish walkers. Guess what? She said "never again". Once she had recovered, however, she set about trying to improve her time and the following year she covered the course over a minute a mile faster in 22.10.57.

She told me today that she blames (or was it credits?) me for her third finish because I apparently told her that she couldn't quit without completing her hat-trick.

And she did. Then in 2007 she made it four in a row. She was seven minutes slower in 2006 than in 2005 but with roles reversed from the 80s Roy was trying every possible trick to keep her going last year. Although she had maintained a similar schedule to the previous two years, he convinced her that she could break 22 hours for the first time.

Stella took on new powers of determination as she left Onchan and set off for the finish and beat her husband's target time by nearly three minutes.

Her time for the final split was 30 minutes 48 seconds. The Island's greatest ever race walker, Steve Partington, took 31 minutes and 9 seconds. It might have said a lot about the pain that Steve suffered, but it said even more about Stella's performance.

Roy and Stella have both taken early retirement from work in the past year. But there will be no early retirement for Stella Corlett in the Parish Walk until she gets at least two more finishes to hold the bragging rights in the Corlett family.

Time

Year

Position

23:43:43

2004

95

22:10:57

2005

70

22:17:57

2006

117

21:57:09

2007

100

Murray Lambden - 10 February 2008

Roy and Stella Corlett picture gallery (taken by the Corlett family unless stated otherwise)

Just before retirement at Jurby in 2003 - the last time that Stella retired before the finish.

On her way to her first finish in 2004 (photo by Bill Dale)                

Roy Corett (5) on his way to joint third place with Roy Cooil in 1981

Receiving congratulations from the late Dennis Lace in 1982.          

Almost there - on the promenade in 1984.                                   

With Stella and Roy's Parish Walk hero from the 60s, Henry Harvey, after finishing in 1985.

 

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