Who knows what random chain of firing synapses led me there, but one week brefore this parkrunday I found myself looking at the website for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, and mentally calculating the logistics of a day tip across the water to Nobles parkrun.
The 0215 sailing from Heysham, due into Douglas at 0600 would leave plenty of time to stroll the couple of miles from the port to the parkrun, unfortunately the return sailing would leave around 0830, however if instead of returning to Heysham I returned to Liverpool I could catch the 1500 sailing. Checking train, bus and coach times I decided that the most effective way of making this trip would be to take a coach to Manchester, a train to Lancaster, and a bus to near Heysham followed by a train from Liverpool to Manchester and a coach back home. I calculated the entire trip including the ferries would cost just under £100.
In the end my brother decided to give me a lift, on the pretext of testing a campervan - he would drop me off, go camping and meet me the next day. So the trip cost me £45.50 for a ferry ticket and my brother £90 for petrol. As an old and thus double-jabbed person I exempt from the visitor isolation and testing requirements, but had to completed some simple paperwork and wait for the Manx government to confirm my status.
I must say that Heysam is the fanciest ferry port I’ve ever visited, it felt more like a hotel lobby than a transport hub. I boarded the MS Ben-my-Chree just before 2am, found a seat to sleep in and enjoyed about three hours sleep being awoken at one point by the national anthem as the onboard TV shown team GB winning an Olympic Gold. We arrived in Douglas well before 6, and after having several barcodes scanned and my ID checked I stepped out of the terminal to breath in the fresh air.
I walked a mile to the 24 hour McDonalds, only to find that it was closed until mid-day due to staff shortages, so I made my way decaffeinated to the park. Unfortunately I had forgotten to download any maps before I set out, and refused on principal to pay £70/GB to do so now so relying only on a vague memory of a map I had once seen I aimed in the general direction of where I thought the park might be. By 8:15 just as I was starting to think about paying for some data I spotted a sign to the park.
The park was deserted, but speckled with little yellow arrows, and signs cautioning runners. I followed the arrows for a mile or so until I stumbled upon a start line, and there I lurked. I spoke to the RD who explained the course, most of which I had already walked, and asked that I sign the visitors book afterwards.
By nine the narrow path was full or runners, and after a brief brief the runners set off, and I stood still and it was a good 20 seconds or so for the field infront to clear enough for me to move (a feature of parkruns I had completely forgotten) it was enough time to hear the timekeepers shouting expletives at the run director for not warning them he was about to shout go.
The course itself was two and a bit laps, mostly on hard ground, a little grass, and lots of 90° turns. Oh, and it was very undulating.
After the run I signed the visitor book, thanked the RD, chatted a few of the other runners, and asked for directions.
I found my way to a Costa for a large Chai Latte, to steal their wifi and to write some postcards. While there my time came trough 25’56, a full 6 seconds slower than my last parkrun, although that was in 2020 and I was an age catergory younger back then.
Before making my way back the the Ferry, and inkeeping with the unwritten rules of parkrun tousim, I found my way to a pub to sample a local beverage. In this case I visited the Albert, as it was the only pub in the area on CAMRA’s historic register, and enjoyed a pint of Odin’s Manx Mild.
For my retun journey on the HSC Manannan I think it must have been the smoothest catamaran I’ve ever been on, that said I did sleep for most of the crossing. We arrived into Liverpool well ahead of schedlue, and with no formalites I was able to walk from the boat to the street in just a couple of minutes.