Sunday, 30 November 2008

The 2009 website launch

I'm writing this at lunchtime on 30 November with sub zero temperatures and the Isle of Man is covered in frost. So although it is a few degrees cooler than during the 2008 Clerical Medical Parish Walk at least its dry! So first things first, let's all keep our fingers crossed for better weather in 2009!

I've been spending most of my spare time during the past couple of weeks preparing for the launch of the 2009 website. Its five months since I drew a line under the 2008 coverage but where have those months gone to?

I'm excited about 2009 and really believe it will be better than ever.

The entries are due to open at midnight tonight so don't delay. The organisers considered making the entry system online only this time but there was still a view that not everyone could access a computer of their own, at their work or at a friends house. So if you are one of those people you won't be reading this!

Otherwise you will be quite convinced of the benefits that the online system brings to you (£5 less to pay) and to the organisers (no cheques to bank, entry fees to reconcile and data to enter and verify). What's more, the online system is instant and therefore the entries are visible for everyone to see whereas there is an understandable delay in processing the old system (people do have lives away from the Parish Walk).

I'm delighted with the lineup of the bloggers this year. The success of the Parish Walk to date has relied too much on older people. This year, two of the bloggers are youngsters and it is hoped that this will encourage more young people to take an interest and that you old hands (and feet) will provide feedback to them.

Two of the bloggers will be preparing off the Isle of Man this year so that will bring a new dimension to the stories. Finally, two of the bloggers have lived in the Netherlands at some stage in their lives.

In case you are confused, there are only three bloggers not six its just that there is such a neat overlap between them.

The internet has grown exponentially during the last few years and when I was compiling the Archive page the other night, I trawled through Google and was amazed at the Parish Walk content that is available now. I've added most of the Isle of Man Today, Manx Radio and BBC coverage to the Archive page as well linking to their videos and photo galleries alongside my own on the Video and Photos pages.

This year I have also added an Information page to help you find those rules or course directions. Again, I think the internet is the way to to disperse such information and I hope that during the next few years a searchable database will replace the need for printed documentation. I must stress, however, that although the Information page is based upon the official documents, the details should not be relied upon as the ultimate guide as I have applied my own interpretation and indeed added a lot of extra comment. The official documents are available (earlier than ever) for you to download.

Another new feature is the Organising page where I hope to ensure that everyone who plays a part in making the Parish Walk a success gets a a mention from sponsors, through the organising committtee to the people on the feeding stations.

Last year I introduced a Feature page and I am continuing with this. I visited Michael Gray, the oldest ever finisher at 73, yesterday and told him that the interview would take less than 30 minutes. He was fascinating and I left a hour and a half later! Much of yesterday was taken up compiling what was a sensitive story about Michael and his family. I hope to add a new feature about every 4 to 5 weeks as last year.

So that leaves me with the statistics. That is my project for tonight!