MICK HOLGATE - STILL HERE 42 YEARS AFTER HIS HOLIDAY

Mick Holgate with his Sony Vaio laptop in the office at his home at Balladhoo House adjacent to the Parish Walk course on the Clannagh Road.

 

A picture should provide a more graphic description of a person than words.  But let us pretend that we can't see the picture above of Mick Holgate and I'll try and describe him from what I know.

Think of a 65 year old Sheffield born bricklayer who came to the Isle of Man on a holiday for a week in 1966 and has been here ever since. Think of the man I was chatting to at 11 pm as he downed a few pints in the Colby Glen Hotel the night before he completed the Parish Walk for the first time in 1986.  Think of a man who could easily have lost his life when he fell from the roof of Balladhoo House when he was building it in 1999.  Think of a race walker who has completed more than 106 miles in 24 hours as well as two ordinary 100 mile events. Think, most of all, of a man who is always seen smiling throughout his 17 Parish Walk finishes.

Hopefully, the description is actually more revealing than the picture. Not a man known for sitting down for long he is even less well known for using a Laptop. In fact he doesn't use a computer at all, although he intends to take lessons next winter. In addition to general access to the internet which most of us take for granted, Mick and Jill, his wife of 38 years, are developing a self catering holiday cottage (The Mews) alongside their house and recognise the need to communicate online with their customers.

Mick has been living on the Isle of Man for almost 18 years before he was advised to take more exercise for medical reasons and decided to enter the Parish Walk.  Reaching Rushen at his first attempt in 1984 he thought he would get all the way around the following year when he actually did some training. It was a bit tougher than he expected but after reaching Jurby in 1985 he was all the more determined to get the whole way around in 1986 - which he did. He had teamed up with winner Willie Corkill, who was working for him at the time, and Allan Kelly and they won the team prize.

Next up was the 100 miles. By 1987 Mick was competing in all of the local events but missed the Parish Walk to concentrate on the 100 miles which he duly completed at Ewhurst in Surrey in 21 hours 56 minutes. He was to finish two more ultra distance events - another 100 miles in Hendon and 172km in a 200km event at Battersea Park in 1993 when he took the Northern 100 mile title.

In 1988 and 1989 he concentrated on shorter events and succeeded in getting his 10km time down to 54.37. He only walked as far as Peel in those years and did not enter the 1990 Parish Walk. But successful as he was in that time for a person who hardly has a natural race walker's build, he soon decided that it was long distance walking that he enjoyed the most and was best suited to.

Since 1991 he has completed the Parish Walk every year except for 2003. Rarely without a smile, and always with a friendly greeting, there are a few stories to tell.

What jumps out from the statistics are that more than half of his 17 finishes have been within a 23 minute finishing time (19:36 to 19:59). His best time of 18:28:48 dates back to 1995 while his slowest time of 21:24:45 (2001) is hardly shocking.

Quite how he managed to finish the 2000 event in 20:12:16 is unknown - except to Mick. In August 1999, whilst building the house where he now lives on land he acquired from his now neighbour Dougie Corkill, he saw 10 tons of building materials in the form of his chimney start to fall towards him. Rather than wait to be crushed like a fly, he jumped into the house and fell (or bounced) through the joists and ended his fall in the kitchen.

He needed some radical surgery including pins in his arms and neck and was almost flown off island when they thought he had brain damage. During the next year, he exercised tirelessly under the direction of physiotherapist Ruth Bradshaw and recovered almost all the movement he had lost - much to the amazement of his surgeon.

It hardly needs to be put into further words that Mick has great determination and has never considered retirement during the Parish Walk.  Neither has he considered retirement from entering the 85 mile classic. He loves walking, he loves the Isle of Man scenery and he enjoys the comradeship of the event (and most other race walking events) and says that he will take one year at a time. Most of his training is on his own but he equally enjoys training in company and looks forward to his long walks with Maureen Cox most Saturday mornings.

Will his determination stretch to learning to use a keyboard and the internet at retirement age? Get ready for some emails next winter! And if he types as much as he talks we can expect plenty of contributions on the forum!

 

Mick Holgate's Parish Walk record

Rushen

1984

04:31:00

Jurby

1985

11:23:00

Finish

1986

19:46:31

German

1988

06:39:07

German

1989

07:16:46

Finish

1991

19:42:48

Finish

1992

20:18:44

Finish

1993

18:53:56

Finish

1994

19:40:51

Finish

1995

18:28:48

Finish

1996

19:16:27

Finish

1997

19:40:56

Finish

1998

19:46:37

Finish

1999

19:43:11

Finish

2000

20:12:16

Finish

2001

21:24:45

Finish

2002

20:06:42

Finish

2004

19:59:46

Finish

2005

18:56:28

Finish

2006

19:36:16

Finish

2007

19:54:48

 

Murray Lambden - 10 May 2008

The Mick Holgate picture gallery (photos by Murray Lambden)

May 2008 - outside his house below the chimney from where he fell

      Mick (12) at the Round Table in the 2004 Parish Walk

Approaching Union Mills in the 2005 Peel to Douglas walk

Winter League -March 2006

TT Access Road - Parish Walk 2007

February 2008 at the National Sports Centre

 

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