The Isle of Man:

The most challenging race in the world

best kept secret

Last May I received an email from Mary Caine in Anoka, MN, wondering if Iíd heard anything about the Isle of Man/Manx TT Races, and proceeded to inform me at length about them. Mary "just kind of casually fell into it. It's where my husbandís ancestors are from and I was researching the island online. I just fell in love with the place. The TT is definitely the biggest thing that happens on the island each year and is ingrained in the fabric of Man, so to know anything about them is to know about the TT."What I learned from Mary was more exciting than these words will express.

The following is a compilation of facts from Mary, as well as writings provided to me by Dwight Mitchell (a racer), his wife, Eva (Dwightís manager) and Ian Huntly, a proud fan for more than 50 years! I hope you enjoy it all as much as I did!

denise brown

 

Some Background

The Isle of Man is situated in the Irish Sea, midway between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. At its extremities, Man is approximately 33 miles long and 13 miles wide with over 100 miles of shoreline. Its elevations reach over 2,000 feet, with 17 national glens, some descending 300 feet with waterfalls and streams cascading through volcanic rock to the Irish Sea. "Mann," or "Mannin," was the seat of an ancient kingdom where, more than a thousand years ago, Vikings, who captured and ruled the island for about 300 years, established Man's government. Called Tynwald, itís the oldest continuous government in the world today.

The indigenous Manx are a Celtic people, Man being one of the six Celtic nations. Manx, or Gaelg, is a national language. Man's history and heritage are closely tied to the sea. According to legend, Man is named after a sea voyager named Mannanan Mac Lir, who had the ability to cloak the island in mist to hide it from harmís way, and kept a peaceful island during his pre-Christian/Viking era.

Photo by Tony Larkin

Manx women are very independent and women ride in the different races. In ancient history, they took up arms to fight alongside their men in battles, so have always been respected by their men. There were Celtic queens, and the Celt women generally held high stations in their families and communities. So now, many ions later, they are not so apt to join feminist crusades because they've been there, done that and are already independent and do what they want.

It is believed that the invasion of the Romans and Anglo-Saxons to the British Isles brought the idea of treating women badly. The Celts were then pushed off to the far edges of the Isles into Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Man.

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