There were many stories of personal triumph in Saturday’s Parish Walk, not least that of 54-year-old Post Office worker Keith Green.
When the Farmhill man was the 142nd person to cross the finish line in the gruelling 85-mile event, it marked his fourth finish in as many years.
This rich vein of form is all the more remarkable considering just five years ago Keith was still recovering from a heart attack.
Hard work helped him battle back to full health; Parish Walks aside in recent years he has completed four marathons and more End to End walks than he can remember.
This was his thirteenth attempt at the Parish, though his first finish came only in post-heart attack 2010, and Saturday’s time of 21 hours and 54 minutes was only four minutes shy of his quickest.
Keith credits the secret to his success to attending the humble Walk and Talk sessions at the National Sports Centre’s athletic track once a week.
‘I started Walk and Talk 10 years ago,’ explained Keith. ‘I was doing a bit of exercise before that but I wasn’t particularly strict. Because I was fit it helped after the heart attack, I recovered quickly. They say the worst thing you can do is stay at home and do nothing.’
In fact, last week Keith became one of the few to have clocked up 3,000 miles at the informal sessions, and as such was presented with a certificate and jacket by Manx Sport and Recreation’s Gianni Epifani.
‘I think Keith is the only Walk and Talk regular to have finished the Parish,’ said Gianni. ‘Or at least the only current member. The sessions help get people into a routine; if you leave it to yourself, you might not get out training.’
Keith, whose wife is herself approaching 2,000 miles, agreed. ‘The Walk and Talk guys were great when I came back (following the heart attack). They really looked after me. It’s got me into good habits, and you make some good friends, so it’s good even if you don’t need the exercise.
‘If I hadn’t done Walk and Talk I wouldn’t have done the other events. The year I first got around the Parish Walk, I didn’t think I’d finish. I was planning to stop in Andreas, but I just found I felt really good and kept pushing on.’
A veteran of four London marathons – competing in 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2012 – Keith has recorded gradually quicker times, shaving his four hours 50 minute debut down to four hours 19 minutes last time out.
‘I just fancied it,’ shrugged Keith when asked about motivation. ‘The atmosphere gets you round, the crowds are brilliant. And it raised a few quid for charity too.’
He has also entered an ambitious 100-mile event in August, with Walk and Talk sessions again to play a big part in his preparations.
‘The thing is you’re never too old to try these things,’ said Keith. ‘I was 46 when I did my first marathon. In fact it tends to be the older people at the front.’