Club news

The lull before the storm

It was a quiet weekend on the racing front for Okehampton Running Club members with just a couple of ORCs finding the incentive to get out and race in grey and windy conditions. Nothing seems to deter Jo Page from having her weekly race and this time she travelled up to Weston Super Mare to run the Weston Christmas Cracker 10k. Now in its 31st year, this is Weston AC’s largest race by far and people come back year after year to take part in the festive run. Such is the popularity of this race that entries sell out as early as September, with runners travelling from far and wide to line up with 2,000 others dressed as Santas, elves, reindeer, snowmen, penguins and angels. The course includes sand, pavement and tarmac with the first four miles being run on the wet packed sand on the beach. Heavy overnight rain, a tide that had just turned before the race start and strong gusty winds made for challenging conditions and this was no easy fun run but a hotly contested, tough race. Dressed as a lady Santa Jo put in her usual great effort and came home in 43.30 to be sixth senior lady and unbelievably still managing to set a 54 second PB!

Jane Richardson is another weekly racer, running a Parkrun most weekends when she isn’t competing elsewhere. After moving up a group in her training nights with the club, Jane’s running has been improving and she has knocked seconds off her 5k PB several times. This weekend saw another PB in pretty awful conditions when she completed the Exeter Parkrun in 28.04.

Thanks Jane for reporting.

Exeter to Spain!

The third round of the Westward League X-country races took place on Sunday. Held in Exeter this event included the Devon Championships where runners can qualify to go forward to represent the county later in the year. This always makes for a good turnout at this meeting and on a mild December day there were large fields of runners in all the races. Despite the recent heavy rain the course was in a reasonable condition with just one uphill section being very wet and muddy. The ladies were the first to race and this year Okehampton had an impressive ten runners competing. The brilliant Jo Page was first home for the club again, followed by the the senior Marvin, Sarah, with our newest member, Claudine Benstead ,making an impressive debut for the club, two places behind and just ahead of Molly Marvin. Jo Bradford was next, desperately trying to encourage team mate Karen King who has had a very heavy cold, who finished a little way behind. Jane Jackson again came in just one place ahead of Christine Fritsch followed by Mags Jarvis and Mel Priday. Not all of the ladies had entered the Championships, but those who did had some excellent results with Sarah Marvin and Jane Jackson both getting bronze in their age categories, while our senior ladies team of Jo Page, Sarah and Molly Marvin and Jo Bradford also claimed the team bronze, as did the ladies Vet team of Sarah Marvin, Jo Bradford, Karen King and Jane Jackson.  Ladies  who didn’t medal were not far off with Jo Page an excellent 8th in the biggest and most hotly contested senior ladies category. Molly Marvin was 5th in the under 20 Women, an improvement of three places from last year and qualifying her for the county Championships. Jo Bradford was 5th FV45, Karen King 4th FV40, and Mags Jarvis 5th FV60.

There were two juniors running for the club, Tom and Sam Priday who both ran very well, Sam coming in 4th in his Under 15 category giving him the chance to go forward to run for Devon at County level.

The men also fielded a good turnout, running on a course that was considerably more churned up by now. It was good to have Paul Crease back in the team after missing the Newquay fixture, leading them home with an excellent 53rd place to take the silver medal in the MV45 category. Hugh Robinson was next, just out of the medals to be fourth MV40. Paul Carter ran a great race to be the next home but hadn’t entered the Championships and followed by another great run from Stephen Sincock. Graham Bryant held off a fierce challenge on the run in, while Christian Davies and Indigo Ramsey were still overtaking runners in the finishing straight. Jo’s dad, Ian Page made a great comeback after having to pull out at Newquay with a calf injury, to claim bronze in the MV65 category. It was also a comeback for Stuart May, who has been absent from our team for two years, although not quite as fit as he was then, but non the less happy to run again and welcomed by his old team mates.

The results from this third round have had no effect on the men’s team standings, but the Ladies Senior Team has moved up from 16th place to 11th and the Ladies Vet Team from 13th to 8th.

One Okehampton Running Club member, Monika Richards, took a trip to Valencia in Spain to run the Valencia Marathon where the December average temperature of 16 degrees and the entirely flat course make for just the right conditions for a fast PB. This marathon is renowned for the music all along the course and the route is mainly suburban, but does take the runners through the old town and the Turia park, with a scenic stretch along the coast. Monika had only completed one marathon before and was looking to improve on that time. Unfortunately the weather was considerably hotter than usual and she found it hard in the 21 degrees, but determined to fulfil what she had set out to achieve, she pushed on as hard as she could to reap the reward of a sub-4hr finish, coming home in an impressive 3.55.26, an improvement of 6 minutes on her previous one.

Rob Cunnington took on the challenge of a night time race over open moorland when he ran the 10 mile Burrator Noir on Saturday evening. Due to landowner issues, the course had to be changed slightly this year, although the overall distance remained the same. This would be quite a tough race in the light and it was Rob’s first try at night running but he enjoyed the experience despite the relentless uphill climb on a rutted track from the start, finishing in 2.15.01.

Thanks to Jane for reporting.

Couch to 5k successes and couple of others

Last week saw the end of the club’s Couch to 5k beginners course and it was finished off on Sunday with an opportunity for these new runners to put themselves to the test and complete a 5k timed run on the Granite Way. It wasn’t a race, just a chance for them to prove to themselves that they had come a long way from when they started 10 weeks ago. A 5k course was measured out, starting near Prewley with the runners heading towards Okehampton and turning at Meldon Viaduct for the return half. On a cold and grey morning it was good to see twelve of the Pavey group turn out to give themselves the chance to run a continuous 5k and be awarded with a certificate upon completion of their run. Every one of them completed in under 38 minutes with Jim Fitton finishing in under thirty and all were delighted with their efforts and we now look forward to them starting their transition into the club.

After these runners had completed their time trial another one was held for other ORC members to run for their club awards. Twelve runners also took part in this with several of them running new personal bests. These were Tom Andrews; 21.24, John Binns; 21.26, Katherine Murray; 24.11, and Paul Evison who not only set a new PB but also a new club record for the MV65 category with a time of 23.16, while one of the new junior members, Mathew Richards, ran his first 5k time trial, completing in a very respectable 20.54.

Merv Rice enjoyed a great run when he took part in the Adidas Terrex 10k which is held in conjunction with the Kendal Mountain Festival in Cumbria. Merv attends the festival most years where his son-in-law is the event manager and this year was blessed with beautiful weather to get out for a run on the surrounding fells. The race was started by Olympic Triathlete Jonathan Brownlee and the route took the runners out of town from the centre of Kendal, taking in the Tour of Britain finish climb, before heading off road to Scout Scar. Here they turned right along the escarpment where there were magnificent views across the Lyth Valley, before returning back to Kendal and down steep cobbled streets to the centre. Merv thoroughly enjoyed the chance to run in this beautiful area once again, finishing in 1.01.13.

One Lucky ORC found blue skies and sunshine to run in on Sunday. Jane Richardson took part in her third 10 mile race in three weeks when she ran the Bicton Blister in East Budleigh. The race starts and finishes at Bicton College with short road sections, but is mostly on forestry tracks and on the sandy and stony heathland paths of Woodbury Common. Jane had a very good run here, thankfully not adding any extra miles by getting lost as she had at the Drogo10 last week, to finish in 1.52.58.

Thank you Jane Jackson for your reporting.

Drogo 10, and some Smurfs.

The Drogo 10, another very popular local race, was the main focus for our runners last weekend. Set in the grounds of Castle Drogo and the beautiful Fingle Woods that fill the valley below it, this is a tough 10 miler with a some steep climbs, most memorably the brutal Hunters Path climb with nearly 450ft of ascent between miles 8 and 9. At this time of year the compensation for this effort are the the wonderful autumn colours, made more enjoyable by the sunshine and good conditions underfoot, making it a perfect day for running. The course had been slightly adjusted this year, extending it slightly to make it the full ten miles of its title. Thirteen Okehampton runners took part, the first home for the club being Alec Robinson, finishing in 1.23.04, while the first ORC ladies were Jo Page and Karen Vallance, coming home together in 1.36.45.

Other ORC times; Mike Baker; 1.26.12, Angus Farrelly; 1.43.31, Paul Evison; !.46.51, Robert Cunnington; 1.49.03, Christine Fritsch, 1.49.40, Mags Jarvis; 1.51.17, Janet White; 2.12.34, Ali Holiday; @.12.34, Danielle Fullford Brown; 2.19.01. Jane Richardson finished her “Drogo 11” in 2.20.39, having added an extra mile after unfortunately taking a wrong path along with a group of other runners.

There was a long journey to Bury St Edmunds in Norfolk on Sunday for marathon buddies Roger Voaden and Geoff Hill to take part in the Snetterton Race Track Marathon. The course is made up of six laps of the iconic race circuit, making for a flat, smooth and fast run but being very exposed to the cold easterly wind that was blowing this weekend. Lapped courses are never as easy to run as they sound but Roger has the experience to handle any marathon and came home to 3.27.13 to be 16th overall. Geoff tackles every marathon now with the promise that this will be his last, finishing here in 3.50.26 and vowing this will be his last EVER….watch this space!

Saturday provided a warm up to Sunday’s race for Jo Page when she took part in MoRunning’s Mo 10k in Exeter. This event, held on the Riverside Valley Park supports the Movember Foundation, a charity tackling men’s health, but the race is lighthearted with fancy dress encouraged and most runners sporting moustaches of various types. Jo ran with a friend and they finished in 53.20 to become proud owners of a moustache shaped medal.

On another lighthearted note, but with an equally important reason, several ORCs took part in Friday’s Children In Need fundraising by “running” a five-legged race through Okehampton. More of a glorified pub crawl whilst tied to several friends than a race, hats off (or maybe wigs off) to Jo Burrow, Viki Hayer, Lucy Brint, Jo Bradford, Geraldine Walter, Hannah Woods, Tracey Mills and Beki Simmons who risked life and limbs to run approximately a mile in around 45mins, hopefully their slowest mile ever!

Thank you Jane for your reporting

Westward Cross Country league

After a sombre morning of reflection on Remembrance Sunday, athletes gathered at the second event in this year’s Westward League X-Country held in Newquay, incorporating the Cornish County Championships. Okehampton had struggled a bit to fill teams due to injury and other commitments but managed to field a Senior and Vet team in the ladies and a senior team in the men’s race, with some juniors also representing the club. Despite the previous day’s rain the conditions underfoot were remarkably dry and the races took place in beautiful sunshine, but with a strong and very cold wind. Having his first Westward League outing, young Tom Priday was the first to run in the Under 13 boys coming home strongly to overtake several runners in the finishing straight. The Ladies were next, missing League stalwarts Sarah and Molly Marvin this time, but Jo Page secured a some good points for the club with another very strong run, while Jo Bradford and Karen King came home together, their places counting for both Senior and Vet Teams. Next was Jane Jackson, finishing one place ahead of Christine Fritsch who she’d overtaken on the final hill, but not managing to overhaul the next runner. Next in was Mel Priday who, with two sons running, had decided to don her ORC vest and have her first run in the Ladies team here. The two Under 15 boys were next up with Sam Priday having another great run to finish eighth in a field of top class runners and Harrison King keeping going well after racing three times in the previous four days. In the Men’s race Hugh Robinson seemed to have recovered well from his Cornish Marathon the weekend before to come in first for the club, his time being over a minute faster than his run here last year. Westward League rookie Hayden Bond ran a very impressive race, keeping Hugh in his sights all the way round to finish just three places behind him. Stephen Sincock was next to gain some good vet points with two more runners separating him from Graham Bryant. Christian Davies was not only taking part in his first Westward League race, but also only his second race ever and had a very good run to come home next ahead of Stuart Page. Unfortunately Ian Page pulled a calf muscle on the second lap and had to pull up, very disappointing as he had won his age category at the Plymouth meeting.

On Saturday evening a large ORC contingent took part in the Exeter Glow in the Park, a fun event held at Westpoint. Described as the ultimate night time neon event for families and friends, this 5k run has a course of 2 laps on paths. tracks and some grass, the way being marked by flashing arrows. Competitors could walk, jog, run or even dance their way round, passing through “glow zones” on the way with the money raised from this going to two Downes Syndrome charities. A great time was had by all ORCs and their families who took part, all entering the spirit of the evening with fluorescent face paint and colourful hi-viz clothing.

Thanks to Jane Jackson for your reporting

Bideford 10 and the Cornish marathon

After an original forecast for wind and rain on Sunday, there were actually near perfect conditions for the Bideford 10 miler where Okehampton Running Club was once again well represented with 23 runners taking part. This very popular race has a fast and flat course that starts on Bideford Quay and follows the road out to Yelland before returning along the Tarka Trail. With the good conditions and a fast course the ORCs managed to amass no less than 12 personal best times, two club records and three age category places in a very competitive race. First home for the club was Hayden Bond, determined to complete in around 65mins, but exceeding this target to come home in 1:04:01 to set a huge PB. Stephen Sincock was next home for Okehampton with a very impressive run, his time of 1.05.23 securing him 1st MV55 and setting a new age category club record, with Andrew Vernon coming home next in 1.07.49to be 3rd MV50. Next to finish was also the first ORC lady runner, Jo Page, her third race in eight days not seeming to affect her performance and finishing in an incredible 1.09.03 to set a new overall Ladies club record in her first race over this distance. Vet runner Jane Richardson was the only lady ORC to get an age category place, coming 3rd FV65 in 1.37.19, amazingly still setting new PB’s at an age when most are getting slower.

Other ORC times; Geoff Hill; 1.11.08, George Haskell; 1.11.36, Tom Andrew; 1.18.50 PB, Philip Read; 1.18.48 PB, Jackie Dawes; 1.21.07 PB, Karen King; 1.22.03 PB, Mike Westland; 1.25.57, Paul Evison; 1.25.35 PB, Jane Jackson; 1.26.52, Chris Fullford Brown; 1.27.43, Geraldine Walter; 1.28.26 PB, Christine Fritsch; 1.29.26 PB, Mags Jarvis; 1.30.56 PB, Paul Jelley; 1.33.59, Jo Burrow; 1.35.08, PB, Rachel Haydon; 1.38.33, Lotte Smith; 1.40.07, Vicky Hall; 1.42.01.

Four ORCs had a successful outing to the Cornish Marathon on Sunday. With over 2,000 feet of ascent and a steep climb from miles 24 to 25, this is a tough marathon but still a very popular one for runners who really like to test themselves. Hugh Robinson was the first home for the club in 3.14.06, an excellent time for such a hilly race and one that earned him a top 10 place and a win in the MV40 category. Paul Carter always runs well here and he didn’t disappoint again with a time of 3.19.19 to come 15th overall. Roger Voaden finished in 3.24.30 and Graham Bryant in 3.36.50, the collective times for all four (and after a recount) giving them the 3rd  2nd Male Team prize.

On Halloween Jo Page took part in a night race organised by Jolly Running. The Dark Halloween 10k Trail race started from the Drum inn, Cockington and took the runners on a hilly route through Cockington and Scasdon Woods with terrain varying from paths, grass tracks and woodland trails to small tarmac sections. With her Tavy 7 run three days earlier in her legs and the Bideford 10 miler looming the following weekend, Jo slightly regretted entering this, especially at the point where she and some other runners took the wrong course in the dark, but the lure of a “glow-in-the-dark” medal was enough to keep her going to complete in 1.02.12.

The previous weekend Christine Fritsch travelled up to the Peak District to run a fell race that would give her the qualification she needed to enter the Three Peaks Race next year. Despite her many off-road races, the Three Peaks Race required evidence of completing a longer fell race than most in this area so she entered the Grin and Bear it with a feeling of it just ticking a box. However it turned out to be a lovely race and she thoroughly enjoyed it, despite it being a tough 17 miles, finishing in 3.57.49.

Last Thursday saw a big milestone for the club with the first ever ORC Junior Athletics Club training session being held in Okehampton College sports hall. Committee member Rob Hicks raised the idea of a junior section at the 2017 club AGM and with the support of the Running Club and OCRA this idea became a reality and the latest sporting opportunity for children in the area. Rob first had to complete England Athletics training courses to qualify fully as a coach and was pleased with the feedback from parents and children after the first session where 21 young athletes between the ages of 8 and 11 enjoyed an hour of javelin throwing, long jump techniques and relay running. All aspects of athletics will be covered in future sessions and as members of an Affiliated club the children will be able to enter EA competitions if the they wish.

Not forgetting the brave Saturday moor runners.

Thank you Jane for your continued efforts.

Tavy 7, Exmoor 10k and Original Mountain Marathon

In terms of numbers, the biggest race of the weekend was the Tavy 7 where an impressive turnout of 27 ORCs braved a biting gale force wind that blew straight across the open moorland around Plaster Down, the setting for this very popular race. Despite the wind there was some great running by Okehampton members with a good haul of prizes being won. Janet White claimed the only ladies age group prize with a win in the FV65 category, while Jo Page, Emma Dean and Jackie Dawes made up the second placed Ladies Team. Jo was the first ORC lady home, fourth lady overall and third Senior Lady, setting a new ladies club record for the distance, while Jackie’s time set a new FV50 club record. Andrew Vernon was the first ORC home and took the second MV50 prize for his efforts. Mervyn Rice was third MV60 setting a club MV60 record, while ORCs took two prizes in the MV65 category with Ged Fitzgibbon having a great run to come second and Paul Evison claiming third. Andrew Vernon, Hayden Bond, Mike Baker and John Binns made up the third placed Men’s Team.

ORC times; Andrew Vernon; 46.06, Hayden Bond; 46.31, Jo Page; 49.13, Mike Baker; 51.57, John Binns; 52.30, Phil Read; 53.40, Emma Dean; 54.31, Mervyn Rice; 55.09, Jackie Dawes; 56.37, Ged Fitzgibbon; 57.39, Paul Evison; 58.15, Anne Binns; 58.19, Ian Page; 58.29, Tom Andrew; 58.29, Lucy Brint; 1.01.16, Jo Camies; 1.01,17, Cathy Carey; 1.01.18, Jane Jackson; 1.01.19, Chris Fullford Brown; 1.02.23, Lucinda Waslsh; 1.02.39, Tracey Mills; 1.04.45, Sarah Turner; 1.04.53, Katy Speak; 1.05,01, Carole Cornwall; 1.08.08, Rachel Haydon; 1.09.30, Jo Drew; 1.17.19, Janet White; 1.19.00.

On Saturday Five club members set out to Exmoor to take part in the Exmoor 10k Trail Running Challenge, one of four distance options organised by The Trail Events Company. Set in the beautiful Doone Valley, these races start and finish at Cloud Farm near Malmsmead with distances from 10k to ultra marathon. The 10k route follows a trail beside the lovely Badgeworthy Water through ancient woodland before turning to climb up over open moorland, crossing Lancombe Ford and Malsmead Hill to descend through a steep coombe back to Cloud Farm. Phil and Gill Spinney ran together, this being Phil’s first race for over a year due to injury, and finished in 1.16.42. The other three ORCs also kept each other company, with Sarah Bell and Jessica Corcoran finishing in 1.38.02 with Claire Sprague close behind in 1.38.19.

On a more challenging scale, Okehampton’s Rob Hicks, along with his friend Will Hancock took part in this year’s Original Mountain Marathon, or the OMM as it is known. This race changes its location each year and this year’s race was set in the Black Mountains in Wales. It was created in 1968 to test the skills of self reliance, route selection, endurance, teamwork and mountain judgement of those that take part. It is a two day event run in pairs, each team having to carry a tent, cooking equipment and food for 36 hours along with a considerable mandatory kit list. There are a selection of courses to choose from, the Line courses being based on the fastest time around a number of checkpoints, while the Score courses have a fixed period where teams accrue as many points as possible in the time allowed across the two days. At the start of each day they are given a map and have to plan a route visiting the marked checkpoints, finishing at an unsupported wild camp at the end of day 1 and at the event HQ on day 2 . The team visiting the most checkpoints in the fastest time are the winners. Rob and Will chose the Long Score course where some good route choices served them well and in bitterly cold conditions including a couple of hours of snow they did remarkably well, finishing with a top 10 placing among some high class competition.

After running two marathons last weekend Roger Voaden was bagging another one in his quest to run 100 marathons, at the Dartmoor Vale Marathon on Sunday. Roger had a good run to finish in 3.19.59, coming 9th overall and second MV50.

Many thanks to Jane Jackson for all the reporting.

Pompey Spirit

At the Simply Health Great South Run in Portsmouth on Sunday Okehampton Running Club was represented by a single member, Hugh Robinson. This race, considered the world’s leading 10 mile race, has a fast flat course and attracts over 20,000 runners, with support from crowds all around the city. Having recently run a marathon pb at Barnstaple, Hugh showed he is still in great form with an outstanding run in his first ever 10 mile race, finishing in 1.02.48 to set the standard high for any future pb’s and come a very impressive 166th out of such a massive field.

Saturday evening saw the start of the Wild Night Run winter night race series with the Night Templar 10k, held in Stover Country Park, Newton Abbot. There were four Okehampton Running Club members who took part, with Tom Andrew first home, running a great race to finish inside the top twenty in a time of 47.33. Husband and wife Phil and Jo Turner ran together coming home in 1.00.57, Jo’s first race since having some achilles tendon problems. Liam Keen finished in 1.05.02, a good result after running the Great West Run the week before with little recent training.

The Plym Trail Autumn Marathons took place over the weekend with two Okehampton runners, Geoff Hill and Roger Voaden competing on Saturday, while Roger did the double, running on both Saturday and Sunday. The marathon course is a quick up and down in Clearbrook village followed by two ‘out-and-back’ runs on cycle route 27, a disused railway line. With beautiful weather on both days giving excellent running conditions Roger finished day one in 3.20.31 to come third while Geoff Hill was fourth in 3.39.22. The second day saw Roger come home just four minutes slower in 3.24.02 to be placed first, beating the winner of Saturday’s race.

There were two new pb’s set at parkruns on Saturday. Jane Richardson runs the Exeter park run most weekends and is running very strongly at present, so was pleased to find she’d shaved a few more seconds off her recent PB, finishing in 28.12.

Jo Page was on holiday in Copenhagen where she took part in the Amager Fælled Parkrun and set a new PB of 20.40 over the fast flat course. Jo Page was keen to get some more races under her belt while in Copenhagen and found a last minute place in a charity 10k, the Vitamin Well and MN24 10k. This was a two lap, flat course in Kalvebod Park in southern Copenhagen where Jo ran an excellent race on a slightly over-distance course to come fourth lady in a time of 44.36.

Many thanks as always to Jane Jackson for your reporting and editing.

Eden and the Great West Run

After two days of gale force winds and rain, the wind finally dropped, although the rain continued on Sunday morning for the two races that occupied Okehampton Running Club members. Down in Cornwall, the Eden Project Marathon and Half Marathon have become a firm fixture in the running calendar, where the hilly multi-terrain courses follow a challenging route through areas of spectacular mining heritage and beautiful countryside, taking in the spoil heaps known as the “Cornish Alps” and the old Luxulyan granite works now reclaimed by nature. In the full marathon Okehampton was represented by the club’s most experienced marathon runner, Roger Voaden and a complete newcomer to the distance, Mags Jarvis. Despite having run for most of her life, Mags had never tried running a marathon, so at the age of 63 and having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago she decided to rectify this. Eden’s quite a tough course and wouldn’t be everyone’s choice for a marathon debut, but Mags prefers this type of terrain with its changes of pace and elevation, and luckily the rain stopped and the sun shone for the second half making it more enjoyable. Roger was happy to complete his 25th marathon this year, his 93rd in total in 3.37.25. Mags came home in 5.12.31, to be first FV60, an incredible and inspirational achievement.

In the half marathon Alec Robinson was the first ORC home in a good time of 1.41.52, while Carole Cornwall and Katy Speak ran together as usual, finishing in 2.26.57, then staying on to cheer Mags home in the marathon.

At the Great West Run Half Marathon in Exeter, there were a few less Okehampton runners than in recent years, but those who took part had some great results. Starting at the Exeter Arena, this half marathon has it all with a journey through the city centre, followed by pretty country lanes with stunning views across Exeter and a fantastic stadium finish. First ORC home was Rob Kelly with a run that came within 4 seconds of his his PB set here five years ago, with his time of 1.21.09 giving him 22nd place out of a field of over 2,200 runners. After setting a new PB over the flat Cardiff Half course last week, Hayden Bond had another terrific run here with the hills only slowing him down slightly to finish in 1.27.42. First ORC lady home was the ever improving Jo Page who continues to amaze her club mates with her ability to not only race so frequently but to get faster with every race. Her time of 1.33.15 knocked another four and a half minutes off the PB she set only three weeks ago at Disneyland Parisand set a new club record for the distance. Monika Richards was next in 1.52.12 with Paul Jelley coming home in 2.03,43. Christine Fritsch didn’t quite get the time she was aiming for, but still set a new PB here in 2.04.13. Rachael Hayden was pleased with her time of 2.15.21 which was faster than her Bristol Half time three weeks ago. Liam Keen was glad to complete in 2.24.45 having done very little running recently and Katie Bolt’s time of 2.31.10 was faster than her time round this course last year.

Not forgetting off course the Autumnal moor running has started so well done for everyone braving the weather, but do all look out on our Facebook page for other regular meets.

Thanks as always to Jane Jackson for your wonderful reporting.

Westward League Cross Country series has begun

At the Cardiff Half Marathon on Sunday Okehampton’s Hayden Bond took part in a race he has been targeting and training hard for. This predominantly fast and flat course starts outside Cardiff Castle and heads down past Cardiff City Stadium then out to Penarth, taking in Penarth Marina before crossing the barrage into Cardiff Bay. From there it heads north out of the city with a loop around Roath Park Lake before the grandstand finish in the heart of the city at the Civic Centre. Hayden was aiming for his first sub-one hour thirty finish here which he achieved with an outstanding run to come home in 1.26.04, knocking four and a half minutes off his PB.

Last weekend saw the first fixture in the Westward League Cross Country series. Held in Plymouth, this event always heralds in the Autumn for the many club runners who take part in the league throughout the winter, although Sunday’s race was held in summer-like conditions of warm sunshine with not a breath of wind. The course here is hilly but the bone dry ground made for easier running than in last year’s thick mud. The ladies were the first to run with three runners who had taken part in previous years and three newcomers. Jo Page, barely recovered from her superb run at the Barnstaple Marathon, was the first home finishing in an excellent position. She was followed by Sarah Marvin, finishing for once ahead of her daughter Molly who was next in, followed by League rookie Karen King who had a great first run. Jane Jackson, also with the Barnstaple marathon still in her legs, was next with newcomer Christine Fritsch just two places behind. The club was well represented in the Under 15 boys race with two Okehampton runners trying the league for the first time. Sam Priday, had a brilliant run, despite having played rugby in the morning to storm home in fifth place with Harrison King, who is at the younger end of the age group, also running well. The men’s team was slightly depleted due to several usual league runners taking time off to recover from last week’s marathon, but those who did turn out ran well. Paul Crease was first in for the club with a fantastic run that gave him his highest placing ever, with a new member, Steven Sincock coming in next. Young Indigo Ramsey who was having his first league outing finished next followed by one of last year’s stalwarts Stuart Page. Inspired by his daughter Jo’s successes since joining the club, Ian Page also became a member last week and thoroughly enjoyed returning to the competitive League running scene of earlier years, finishing well cheered on by his new club mates.

While some club runners were in Plymouth for the Westward League a lone ORC was there to take part in the Plymouth 10k. Despite having done very little training in recent months Cam Whitelaw ran a good race, shaving just a small amount off his previous PB to finish in 1.00.24.

And finally, Robert’s personal account of his 100 mile marathon of marathons running the Two Moors way Ultra last weekend.

Last weekend I completed a 100 mile Ultra Marathon event, the Two Moors Way. This was an exceptional challenge and one that should carefully be considered if anyone want to attempt a similar event.

The route starts at the Joe Turner statue on the Esplanade of Lynmouth and immediately there is a 150m steep climb out of the town before shortly breaking into open moor land. The route takes you over the open Cheriton Ridge, past Exe Head and down into the picturesque village of Simonsbath. After following the Barle River you come to the historic Tarr Steps. Large granite blocks of stone crossing the river. By this time I had run 20 Miles and ascended over 800m in 5hrs.

As I exited Exmoor I made my way across Mid Devon through lanes and fields rolling across the beautiful Devonshire countryside. Crossing the North Devon link road after a short stop for a change of clothes, tend to feet and a welcome hot food before setting off into the setting sun. I passed through Witheridge before stopping at the third food stop in Morchard Bishop. A considerable spread was laid on with hot chips and sandwiches, hot tea all the types of food these endurance runners need to maintain the calorific intake to keep powering themselves forward. A welcome greeting of fellow ORCs Gill and Phil Spinney who had volunteered to man this checkpoint boosted my spirits. I’d now climbed a total of 1600m, completed 43mile and had been moving for 11:30hrs.

The night was well and truly upon me as I made my way to Drewsteignton. This section is regarded as the flat section despite its 550m ascent, but that is the nature of this trail. I arrived in Drewsteignton a bit later than planned at 03:30 on Sunday morning, and was met by another fellow ORC, Chris Turner who had opted to man this station throughout the night. Another welcome face, a short pep talk, more encouragement and off I went. 60 miles done and the distance was starting to take its toll. I continued on through Castle Drogo grounds, around Chagford and following the Teign River before climbing onto Chagford Common. I chose to walk through most of the night to avoid the risk of tripping and potential injury, however walking gave little respite to my aching body.

The next stage was to make my way to the Warren Inn, high on Dartmoor where I rested a for short while and ate some hot porridge that I had been carrying all night, before setting off on the penultimate climb up and over the notorious Hamel Down. This is a steep ascent, across a high ridge before descending steeply to the outskirts of the beautiful Widecombe-on-the-Moor.

As the afternoon approached I made my final stop at New Bridge where soup, sandwiches and cakes awaited. The final push through the village of Scorriton and the long, and never ending climb up and over Pupers Hill, followed by the long winding descent into Ivybridge was within my grasp. The winding descent along a granite path was like walking on needles and lasted for 6miles. The pain and the exhaustion was well and truly upon me. Fellow ORCs followed with excitement my tracking device on their computers as I neared the finish line. Totally exhausted I became disorientated and confused and had to dig very deep into the last reserves of energy to retrace my steps to reconnect with the right path into Ivybridge.

The finish was in sight, I had completed this immense journey, a marathon of marathons. 100 miles, 3730m ascended, over 1million steps all in 34hrs and 32mins 22sec, being one of only six finishers from the 14 starters of the race. Despite the pain and the suffering that followed such an epic event it was all worth it, everyone has their own journey through life, their own motivation, this story is extraordinary. I am obviously very proud of my mammoth achievement and unsurprisingly have decided to rest for a few days before returning to club.”

Robert Richards

As always, thank you Jane for your editing.