Monthly Archives: December 2018

Beat the Fox

Christmas Day was celebrated by two Okehampton Running Club members by participating in a special Exeter Riverside Parkrun. The was a huge turnout of people keen to put a few miles in before the Christmas indulgence and both ORCs made their mark on the morning run. Jo Page set yet another 5k PB by knocking 26secs off her own record to finish in 20.13, while Claudine Benstead set a new club age category record for FV55 clocking a terrific time of 21.28.

On Boxing Day the Beat The Fox run in Fremington attracted another huge crowd of 600 runners to take part in this novel charity race. Starting from the Fox pub in Fremington the runners are led out on the road for a short way by the “Fox” before he stands aside at the start of a muddy track to let all runners pass him. The aim then is to stay ahead of the Fox for the duration of the 5k course. Once again many runners were in fancy dress, not best suited to the muddy tracks, fields and stiles that had to be negotiated. There were six adult Okehampton runners up for this festive jaunt, two of whom had their children, junior club members, running with them. Fastest round the course and never in danger of being caught by the Fox was Jo Page to finish 2nd Lady, while ORCs Ian Page, Jane and Derek Jackson all finished safely without the Fox over-taking them. Gill and Phil Spinney and their children were beaten by the Fox, but young Kiera and Aiden still loved the race, enjoying the chance to run through stretches of muddy water dressed as Cinderella and a Gladiator.

Thank you Jane for the reporting.


‘Tis the season to be “Extremely Jolly”.

Races at this time of year tend to be about having some fun round a muddy course while wearing some non-too practical fancy dress. This was the case for most of this week’s Okehampton runners taking part in races guaranteed to result in mud covered shoes and waterlogged clothes there were several on offer last weekend, starting with the Extremely Jolly race at Escot House in Ottery St Mary on Saturday. This 7 mile run offered multiple chances to get completely wet at river crossings and copious amounts of mud to run through, but also boasted another opportunity for the runners to get even wetter by shooting down a waterslide over a slippery, wet tarpaulin, with a photographer at the bottom to capture some great action shots. Okehampton had five runners here, all finishing in the top 50 places and led home by Angus Farrelly in 1.08.10, with exactly a minute separating him from super-vet Ian “Daddy” Page in 1.09.10 showing you are never too old to enjoy some festive mud. Jo Page, Karen Vallance and Emma Dean had fun running together and finished in 1.12.40.

Sunday saw the Christmas mud and hill ritual of the Torrington Christmas Caper. This mixes a tough competitive off-road race with a great tradition of ridiculous fancy dress and is renowned for its great atmosphere. Starting and finishing at Torrington Rugby Club the course is just under 10 miles of muddy fields, woodland tracks, some road and some stretches of the Tarka Trail. The recent heavy rain ensured that the runners not only waded through knee high water at river crossings, but also at several other places where the water had collected. Okehampton had 17 runners, some serious and some just out to enjoy one of the last races of the year. This year there was an opportunity (for our runners only) to re-fuel on mince pies and chocolates and have a drink of mulled wine at Watergate, the halfway point, provided by fellow ORCs Jane and Derek Jackson. At the sharp end of the race there was no time to stop for Paul Carter who had a great run to come 17th overall and first MV50 in 1.12.02 with club mate Stephen Sincock not far behind and taking 2nd MV50 in 1.13.31. Jo Page was next, who, despite not feeling too well, clocked a great time of 1.17.45 in a full Mrs Santa costume to take the first Senior Lady prize. Most of our other runners were only too glad of a chance to stop for some much needed sustenance, hoping the mulled wine would make the second half seem less painful.

This was particularly the case for Gill and Phil Spinney who had opted to run dressed as a Christmas pudding and a moose! Unfortunately the extremely mild day made it uncomfortably hot to run in a moose suit which also had the disadvantage of weighing considerably more after wading through stretches of water which got trapped in the legs. There was some consolation however in that they won the best fancy dress prize for their efforts.

Other ORC times; Alec Robinson; 1.20.42, Hayden Bond; 1.23.40, Mike Baker; 1.24.10, Jean-Paul Quertier; 1.24.39, Jason Ewing; 1.27.22, Kathleen Sincock; 1.35.25, Tom Andrew, Jo Turner, Karen King, Geraldine Walter, Mags Jarvis and Christine Fritsch all ran together finishing in 1.51.49, with Phil and Gill Spinney together in 2.20.26.

One ORC though had a much more serious task ahead of him on Sunday, when Phil Read took on his first full marathon, running the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon. Phil joined the club along with his wife Susan through the beginners group a couple of years ago and soon found he most enjoyed the off-road and moor running. He has progressed to become a consistently good runner but has never tackled anything more than a half marathon distance before, so this was a big step up for him. The race started on Southsea Pier and followed the coast out to Hayling Island and back with the terrain a mix of shingle beach, some slippery and muddy paths, as well as some road. While coastal races may be flat, the gamble is with the weather on a site that is exposed to the wind, luckily however, conditions on Sunday were dry and mild with little wind. Phil ran a great race, pacing himself well and feeling strong throughout to finish in a very good time of 4.04.17.

Thanks Jane for reporting.




While the majority of ORCs chose Torrington for their festive mud race, one member, Liam Keen, took on the alternative mud-fest of Mud Crew’s “The Scrooge”. Held at the Lost Gardens of Heligan this race is billed as 7 miles of muddy trail running and festive fancy dress mayhem but this understates the real nature of the course where, in wet conditions the runners may end up wading through chest-high water or even swimming. Despite not having been running much recently Liam enjoyed himself here finishing in 2.09.45 having clocked 2 miles more than advertised.

Juniors excel then on to Pisa

Last Thursday 22 athletes from the Junior section of Okehampton Running Club competed in an in-club sports day to record times and distances to mark the final training session of the year. The Junior section of the club started in November and this gave the young athletes the opportunity to set Personal Bests in running, shot put, standing long jump and foam javelin. Families were invited to stay and watch with some helping record the children’s achievements. Athletics Coach Rob Hicks has been impressed with the attitude and ability of the children who improved and developed their technique with every session. Feedback from children has been positive with some looking forward to training all week. The athletes will complete the same activities at the end of the Spring Term and it is hoped to see more improvements in their performance.

It was an exciting weekend away for five lady ORCs who travelled to Italy to run the Pisa marathon and Half Marathon. Once a maritime power to rival Genoa and Venice, Pisa now draws its fame from an architectural project gone terribly wrong. It has a fast flat course that starts at Miracles Square at the centre of Pisa and finishes next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, following a beautiful route largely through the Tuscan countryside with the final few kilometres within the walls of the city. Two Orcs, Jackie Dawes and Deborah Cunningham ran the marathon, while Ruth Bushell, Kerry Morashti and Janet White opted for the half. On an uncharacteristically cold day they all ran well with Jackie Dawes having a superb race to come home first for the club in 3.54.29, an incredible 25 minute PB and a new club age category record. Deborah enjoyed this marathon much more than her previous one in the spring, finishing her 10th marathon in 4.52.09. In the Half Marathon all three ladies had good runs with Kerry Morashti finding some of her old form to finish in 2.05.03 to be the first ORC home. Ruth Bushell was just relieved that the achilles tendon problems she’s had didn’t spoil her enjoyment of the race, finishing in 2.30.02 with Janet White not far behind in 2.32.49.

Okehampton Running Club’s racing regulars Roger Voaden and Jo Page were in action again this weekend with Jo taking part in the Wellington Monument Road Race. Starting from the Catherine Wheel public house in the village square at Hemyock, the route climbs to, and circles, the Wellington Monument, returning along the same road to finish at the local primary school. At just over 10k it is quite a tough run, with a steep ascent in the first half before an equally steep but scenic return. Despite its title, it is officially multi-terrain as it incorporates about 1.5k of stone tracked bridlepath. Jo had a great run to finish in 44min 10 sec and very pleased to be third Lady.

Roger returned to one of his regular marathon routes, the Plym Trail Marathon, accompanied by Geoff Hill who keeps threatening to quit marathon running, before popping up in yet another one! Roger ran his usual good time to come third in 3.11.55 while Geoff was 13th in 4.11.01

Okehampton runner Angus Farrelly joined over 250 other runners on Saturday in PureTrail’s twilight run, Race The Light. This race is a shadowy 8.5 miles, meandering through Flete Estate’s secret tracks and trails along the Erme estuary. Starting at 3.30pm on the sand, the runners immediately get their feet wet as they cross the estuary on the outward leg. From there they follow muddy paths and tracks on the estate before returning to the estuary for the return crossing and a chance to wash all the mud off. Due to the heavy rain the river was higher than expected, but Angus managed to cross before the light had completely faded, finishing in 1.20.48.

Thanks Jane for reporting.

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.