Monthly Archives: January 2019

Juniors do us proud

Last weekend two young Okehampton runners, Molly Marvin and Sam Priday, who train with Okehampton Running Club, took part in the Devon Schools X-Country Championships held at Stover School. Both of these runners have been having a good season, being well placed in their runs for the club at the Westward League X-Country races and having had successful runs at the South West X-Country Championships earlier in the month. This good form continued at this meeting with both securing places in the Devon Team at the South West Schools Regional Championships in Bath next weekend. Molly had 3,660 metre course to complete in the Senior Girls category where she finished in 8th place in 15.43, while Sam also came 8th in the Inter Boys class, running a 5,700 metre course in 21.16.

The Amazing Centurion

In a very busy and inspiring weekend of running, Okehampton’s Roger Voaden achieved a long held ambition to complete 100 marathon and join the exclusive 100 Marathon Club. Having competed at such iconic marathons as London, Snowdonia and Lochness, Roger chose to run his 99th and 100th marathons at the quiet, low key but very friendly Plym Trail Winter Series at Clearbrook near Yelverton. Despite having collapsed and been taken to hospital from a bout of flu two weeks previously, Roger had recovered sufficiently to complete his 99th marathon on Saturday, finishing in 3.21.20 and ran his 100th the next day accompanied by three club mates whose presence he was very grateful for as he was still not feeling 100%. Two other ORCs also ran on Saturday, where unfortunately Geoff Hill had to cut his race short after becoming unwell and so only completed the half marathon distance. Monika Richards ran the full marathon finding this double out and back course tough going with the outwards 6.5 miles downhill and the return entirely uphill. She ran comfortably, not pushing herself too hard having entered Sunday’s race too, completing in 4.28.44.

Sunday saw perfect conditions with no wind and sunshine for Roger’s 100th. He had chosen this quiet event as with typical modesty he had not wanted to make a fuss over it, so didn’t expect the turnout of ORC’s there to run with him on this special day. Andy Vallance, Jeremy Tandy and Rob Kelly were his escorts for the marathon, while Andrew Vernon, Geoff Hill, Jane and Derek Jackson and Monika Richards ran the half marathon. The marathoners ran comfortably enough to chat on the way round bringing Roger home in a time of 3.22.44 where he was greeted with champagne, a cake and a crowd of friends who had come to celebrate with him. He was later presented with his 100th medal by running legend Alan Littlejohns and the coveted 100 Marathon Club T shirt by the race director and fellow 100MC member Davey Green.

Andrew Vernon and Geoff Hill put in great performances in the Half, coming home in first and second places respectively, this giving Andrew his first ever win at half marathon distance in a time of 1.29.47, with Geoff finishing in 1.31.55. Jane Jackson was in second lady position until the last 400m where she cramped so badly she had to stop and was overtaken by another lady, finishing eventually in 1.57.32 to complete her awards chart for the first time in six years. Monika had found her legs too tired to run a second marathon so ran a steady pace to finish the half in 2.05.18. Derek just used this run to put in some training miles, running with Alan Littlejohns to finish in 2.21.10.

Sunday provided an opportunity for several Okehampton Running Club members to fill in some of the times missing from their award charts for the year. At the Braunton 10 there were two distance options on offer, the original Alby Tithecott 10 miler, and the newer Steph Irwin 10k. The 10 miler is one of North Devon Road Runners oldest and most popular races, with two infamous climbs and is not regarded as a PB course. The 10k route was introduced in 2017 follows some of the original course and still contains some similar challenges. Conditions on Sunday were near perfect for a January day, with no wind and relatively mild temperatures. Okehampton had two runners in the 10 miler and both put in outstanding runs with Jo Page storming round in 1.11.20 to be placed third lady, while Emma Dean, whose running has massively improved recently, set a huge PB in 1.19.33. In the 10k there were also great performances, with Paul Evison setting a new club age group record and a PB with his time of 50.00 which earned him first MV65 too. The two lady runners both set new PB’s with Christine Fritsch coming 2nd FV45 in 55.29 and Kathryn Volkelt-Igoe 3rd FV55 in 1.00.08.

Unfortunately for those who had chosen the fast and flat First Chance 10k, in Exeter, as an opportunity to set a good time for their awards, there was huge disappointment. All the competitors were notified on Friday that due to engineering works they had been unable to obtain an official measurement of the course so it would be classified as NAD (not actual distance) and therefore the times would not count for records or awards purposes. Some runners chose to withdraw but two ORCs still took part with Mike Westland finishing in 54.28 and Jane Richardson in 57.36.

The previous day had seen some more great running by ORCs with two of our fast vets having a battle round the Tavy 5Kool 5k race. Paul Carter just managed to put a bit of distance between him and Stephen Sincock with Paul finishing in 19.04 and Stephen in 19.14, both running great races to be 5th and 6th respectively. Not forgetting Beck who got a new PB by 2 minutes (26:56).

Five ORCs tried out the Tamar Lakes Parkrun on Saturday where Karen King set a new PB of 24.29 and Jo Page was second lady, Jo Bradford third and Karen King fourth.

Westward Cross Country League

The one thing that can be guaranteed for the Westward League’s fixture at Westward Ho! is that it will be windy, but on Sunday it was the full force, energy sapping type of wind that was never behind you but always shoving you about. The pancake flat course is right on the coast with no protection from the wind, whatever the direction. It was much drier underfoot than in many winters, but there was plenty of thick, black mud in the ditches that had to be negotiated, knocking the runners out of their stride. There was a good turnout of Okehampton runners here with two juniors, and nine runners in both the men’s and ladies teams.

First to be put to the test round this very different type of course was Matthew Richards, a newcomer to the League races who has been training well with the club in recent weeks and had an excellent first run for the club in the Under 13 boys. Harrison King had to miss the December fixture due to an injured foot and hasn’t been able to train much since but got some good points here in the Under 15 boys race.

The ladies were lead home by Jo Page once again, barely seeming to be affected by the wind, setting an excellent pace for the conditions. Sarah and Molly Marvin were next, with Claudine Benstead, Issy Edworthy, Jo Bradford and Karen King not far apart. This is Issy’s first year in the Under 17’s category and she ran well. They were followed by Jane Jackson, Christine Fritsch and Mags Jarvis.

In the Men’s race Paul Crease ran his usual great race to finish well placed and first for the club. This fixture saw the return of Andy Vallance to the race circuit after months of house building and despite perhaps lacking his usual level of fitness he put in a solid performance to be next home. Paul Carter was next, but was being hunted down in the last lap by a brilliant performance from young Christian Davies who is going from strength to strength with each of his League runs now. Graham Bryant ran well too to be next home, to be followed by Stephen Sincock, with Indigo Ramsey, another improving young runner behind him and then Stuart Page. Ian Page ran a great race, picking off runners in his age category one by one and finishing strongly.

With the results now in there is good news for our teams, all of them improving their positions in the league table. The Vet Ladies Team has moved up a place to now lie in 7th, while the senior Ladies have improved considerably from 13th to 10th. Individually Jo Page has rocketed up from 18th to 8th place, while Claudine Benstead became the first ORC lady to get maximum points for being first home in her age group. Individual age category places can be hard to assess as some of our runners have missed a race, but currently Jane Jackson is still holding on to 2nd place in the FV60 group and Karen King is 6th in hers.

The men’s teams have also gained ground with the Senior team improving well from 17th to 12th and the Vet team from 11th to 10th. Again individual category places are tricky to determine with some absentees from different fixtures, but Stephen Sincock is in a strong 2nd place in the MV55 category and it was good to see Ian “daddy” Page running well again to collect a maximum 100 points in his age category for the second time.

One ORC, Mike Westland took on a very different sort of race when he ran the 9 mile Oh My Obelisk on Sunday, organised by Dawlish Coasters. Starting and finishing at the Dawlish Leisure Centre, this is an all terrain race which includes plenty of mud, country lanes and forest trails, with some spectacular views. Mike ran well in his first race for a while, finishing in 1.32.20 in cold and windy conditions.

Thank you Jane for continued reporting.

Brown Willy – New Years Day run

The traditional Brown Willy Run on New Years Day was held in positively tropical conditions compared to the weather usually to be found at this time of the year on Bodmin Moor. This is a 7 mile run, not a race, without any official timing, although there is a prize for the first male and female back but the fast runners will always take it on with an aim to be at least in the top 10 finishers. Conditions underfoot were good too, with the runners having enough mud on their legs to show they had taken part, but the knee deep variety of bog was absent this year. There is always a great atmosphere at this gathering of runners, as it is a chance to get out after all the festivities and enjoy a run with friends. Okehampton Running Club was out in force with 17 runners including 4 juniors taking part and first back was Rob Hicks who is a regular here, enjoying his run which brought him home in fifth place, while Paul Crease was another top ten finisher. Jo Page has run here before with her family, but a 28 minute improvement on last year’s time saw her come home second lady by a mere few seconds to fellow ORC Mervyn Rice’s daughter, Jenny, visiting her family from her home in the Lake District where she is a member of the Helm Hill club. The rest of the Okehampton runners all took it at their own pace, some running with their children and even the “club mascot” dog Meg taking part.

The following Saturday saw a number of ORCs taking part in various Parkruns, some to test their fitness after some time off, others just using it as a chance for some speed work. At the Exeter Riverside Parkrun Jo Page set another PB, going under 20mins for the first time with a superb time of 19.52, to knock an incredible 47secs off the time she set in October and be the first lady. Jo Bradford had not run seriously for several months so was pleased with her time of 23.44, which was a course PB for her and a good base to start from. Jane Jackson tried out the Tamar Lakes Parkrun as a chance for a fast run having done little in that line over Christmas and was pleased to be the first lady in 25.55.


Sunday saw three young Okehampton runners all take part in the South West X-Country Championships, held at Aldon Hill near Yeovil, after good runs at the Devon Championships in December. Molly Marvin enjoyed the good going round a hilly course, having a great run to finish 5th Devon athlete and 12th in the Under 20 Ladies. Sam Priday was also in good form finishing 12th in the Under 15 Boys and 4th for Devon, giving him a silver medal for the second placed County Team. His younger brother Tom put in a great performance in a very strong Under 13 field where he came 56th.

Thank you Jane for reporting.