James Bassett of Kirk Michael became the latest competitor from the Isle of Man to become a race walking
centurion at the weekend.
The 41-year-old Manx Harriers member travelled to Bury St Edmunds to compete in Race Walking Association’s National 100 mile event.
To attain ’centurion’ status, walkers are required to complete a measured 100-mile distance in under 24 hours and, in recording a time of 21hr 24min 38sec, the father of two became the 1,175th to achieve the mark.
’I thought that I’d won the novice trophy, so asked an official at the end of the race to enquire and he replied: "No, I’m sorry. But you are the national champion, of course."
’I was dumbfounded,’ admitted a clearly delighted James with his unexpected victory. He was the leading British finisher behind two Belgians and two Australians, the race winner being Guido Vermeir of Belgium in 20:39.35.
Describing himself as a stay-at-home dad and part-time personal trainer with his own business, Home Gym, James first entered the Parish Walk in 2009 after marshalling during the wet 2008 event.
Before taking to race walking, nine years ago, he weighed 20 stone.
He achieved his maiden finish of the 85-mile Parish Walk course in 2011 with a time of 19hr 26min.
James failed to complete the centurion walk at the NSC in 2013, but gained another Parish finish in 2016 before pulling out of the New York race later last year when suffering from hypothermia.
He joined Manx Harriers in January to improve his technique and fitness, with the target of a first centurion finish in Bury St Edmunds.
A total of 23 walkers completed the 100-mile walk in less than 24 hours at the weekend. Like James, no fewer than 14 were first-time centurions,
Long-time women’s record holder for the Parish Walk course, 68-year-old Sandra Brown of Surrey Walking Club was the second British competitor home, 19m 37s behind Bassett in sixth spot.
l More race walking news on page 59, along with the IoM Marathon preview.