This will be the last I write before the race. Much as I'd like to share my thoughts in the final hours, I know I'll be too busy tomorrow doing all the last-minute stuff I've been telling you all to avoid. It's OK being a bit laid-back in the build-up, but it does make for a hectic final few days. I'll be more organised next time... By the way, following on from Mark Hempsall's request for suitable songs - '25 Miles' by Edwin Starr get's my vote every time.
First of all - lets hear it for the support crews. They do a largely thankless task, but an essential one. If twenty hours in a car, punctuated by driving slowly for a mile or so, before sitting and waiting for your ever-slowing walker to come around the corner and demand whatever it is that you haven't got, is your idea of fun, then this is the job for you. My crew will hopefully be a bit more supportive than last year ('When are you going to start trying..?" and "I know it's raining, but you're not having your jacket. Speed up a bit and you'll warm up")... Thanks also to the army of checkers who man the churches. The further round the course you get, the longer their shifts. At Onchan, it will be a ten-hour stint!
Right - time for the nitty-gritty. Right at the start of this blog I emphasised the value of a liberal application of Vaseline before embarking on a long walk. This is especially important if it's going to be wet. Don't be embarrassed - at 7.45am on Saturday the NSC will be full of people with a tub of Vaseline in one hand and the other reaching somewhere inside their clothing to apply the stuff. Usual chaffing areas are the ones to cover (literally) - thighs, bum-cheeks, underarms etc. In a similar vein - don't forget to protect your nipples with plasters. You have been warned.
Toilets are few and far between on the Parish route. It's a rural course, so there is plenty of opportunity for nipping over the hedge for a wee. However, for anything more than that, you might not be too keen to 'crouch in the clover'. Think ahead and work out where there are loos. On Saturday, if you are particularly nervous (or you have had a curry and 10 pints on Friday evening) you might want to think about taking an Immodium or two. Toilet availability will then be of no concern to you. In fact, you can get that new bathroom fitted next week, because you probably won't be needing it until about Wednesday.
I've spoken to quite a few people over the past few days. Many, especially the newcomers, have been really nervous. People have been unable to sleep, unable to eat and just want to get it over. Try and remember to enjoy it. You're going to be part of a brilliant, local event and it's going to be a memorable day for us all. Don't forget that it's just a really long walk. If you've done enough training then you will hopefully achieve your aims. If you haven't (are you looking at me?) then you may well struggle. Either way, you'll meet new people and find out new things about yourself. We're lucky to be healthy enough to take part and to have such beautiful surroundings to walk in and, if you think you're struggling - turn around - there will always be someone behind you (unless you're last of course).
Have a fantastic day.