Monthly Archives: March 2019

Magical mystery tour

Our regular reporter and esteemed road and trail runner, Jane Jackson, took a weekend off reporting this week to complete the Lulworth Cove Ultra Marathon in Dorset on Saturday, running an amazing 33 miles up and down the South West Coast Path. With knee trouble and sheer determination she put mind over trail to get to the finish line. Well done Jane, an inspiration to us all.

Also on Saturday, several ORCs took part in the 3rd edition of PureTrail’s Deep River Trail Races which comprises of a 10k and a half marathon. The races start at Piddledown Common on the approach to the iconic Castle Drogo and make their way down to the River Teign, before a series of steep inclines and descents in the Fingle Woods. Representing in the half marathon and first ORC back was Stephen Gentle 4th overall and 2nd SM in 1:47. Chris Turner was next in 2:14 followed by Jo-Anne Turner and Karen Vallance scooping joint 3rd FV40 in a time of 2:31. Rounding off the ORC finishers was Robert Cunningham in 2:50.

On Sunday in perfect weather conditions it was a flatter, but equally local, affair with The Granite Way 10 and 20 milers. These runs take you along the Granite Way cycle path with fantastic views over Dartmoor and the surrounding countryside. The route is ideal for those training for Spring marathons offering the 10 mile (1 lap) or 20 mile (2 laps) on traffic-free paths starting from the Okehampton Railway and Youth Hostel and running alongside the railway tracks to Meldon Viaduct, on to Prewley, Sourton Cross and then towards Lydford before the runners turn after 5 miles. First home in the 20 miler was Hugh Robinson in 6th place, delighted with his big negative split, in a time of 2:14, before the London Marathon in April. First lady and second ORC home was Jo Bradford, running her first ever 20 miles in preparation for her first marathon in Manchester in 2 weeks and knocking 19 minutes off the club record for her age group in 2:50 at the same time. Running alongside Jo, was Graham Bryant, also finishing in 2:50 and also preparing for Manchester for the second time. Next in was Paul Evison, training for his first marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon, and running his debut at the distance and achieving the first club record for his age group in a time of 3:03.

In the ten miler there were six runners racing. First ORC home was Rob Kelly, in a superb second place overall in a time of 1 hour and a rather annoying five seconds. Having been ill recently, he spent much of the race in first place and stayed in contention right to the end. First ORC lady was Sarah Marvin, who also achieved the club record for her age category, knocking seven minutes off, with a time of 1:15. Next in was Lu Walsh, running her first ten mile race, followed by Tracey Mills and Rachel Holland running together and Kathryn Volkelt-Igoe who ran a PB in 1:38.

The Forest of Dean Trail Half Marathon course for 2019, held on Sunday 24th, was the same as for the Spring Trails event in the past few years, utilising well maintained forest trails. Mags Jarvis decided to do this event as trail running is her favoured type of race and, this year, was the only ORC taking part out of nearly 1900 competitors.

The course began and finished at The Speech House, which is right in the middle of the forest, and  followed the trails in a clockwise direction. The weather was excellent and there was little mud on the tracks. There were a few steep inclines and the total elevation of the course was just over 750′. Mags finished in 2:05:33, which was nearly 4 minutes quicker than she ran on the same course in 2017, and gave her a club diamond award.

A few runners ventured further afield to Weston-super-Mare for the half marathon on Sunday. The Weston Super Half starts on the Marine Parade at the entrance to the Grand Pier, taking in the sites of Weston-super-Mare and the surrounding picturesque Somerset villages in this single lap, closed road, fast half marathon. And the grand finale being a totally unique opportunity to finish quarter of a mile out to sea on Weston’s Grand Pier. In perfect conditions the first ORC home was Geoff Hill with a personal best time of 1:24, followed by Mike Westland in 1:49 and Robert Richards, also with a personal best time of 1:54.

Thank you Jackie for stepping in to gather the report.

Half Marathon season it seems.

More half marathons occupied Okehampton Running Club members last weekend. Rachael Haydon travelled south down to Cornwall to take part in the Falmouth Half Marathon on Sunday. This route starts in the lee of Pendennis Castle, following the coast past the beautiful beaches of Gyllyngvase and Swanpool as the route rises to give fabulous views over the bay towards Pendennis Castle. It then follows undulating country lanes where there is support from the residents of the villages it passes through. Rachael wasn’t expecting quite such a hilly course, but met the challenge head on finishing in a good time of 2.13.15 for such a tough course.

Mum and daughter Sarah and Molly Marvin had much more travelling over the weekend, taking the long trip up to Leeds on Saturday for Molly to compete in the English Schools Cross Country Championships. The conditions here were horrendous with a combination of gale force winds, heavy rain and a muddy, hilly course to tackle. Sadly Molly didn’t get picked for the English team, but she always enjoys the experience gained from competing at this high level. Okehampton’s Sam Priday was also competing here and had a good run, his time contributing to Devon’s Intermediate Boys team that finished a brilliant second out of 43 teams.

Having returned from Leeds late on Saturday it was a quick turn round for Sarah and Molly as they were both running in the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday. This has a fast flat course, straddling both sides of the river Avon and avoiding all the hills surrounding the City. It is a ‘Big City’ race, entirely traffic-free, starting & finishing at the same point in Great Pulteney Street, with a roadway spanning 46 feet. Sarah and Molly chose to have a steady run round here, taking in the atmosphere of this big race and finished together in 2.00.00 exactly. Fellow ORC Kate Wilson didn’t run with them but finished surprisingly close in a time of 2.01.30.

West Dorset was the destination for Liam Keen when he took part in the Weymouth Half Marathon. Now in its 5th Year, this popular seaside half marathon provides runners with some outstanding scenery, history and a pretty flat, traffic free course. Starting from the famous Weymouth Clock Tower the runners take a scenic tour of Weymouths past and landscape through the town, harbour, sea front and Lodmoor Country Park. Liam hasn’t been able to run with the club for some time due to work commitments and his training has been somewhat sporadic for the same reason so he was really pleased to finish here in 2.17.48, shaving seven minutes off his last half marathon in October.

Thank you Jane for the reporting.

Inter Counties cross country championship

Last Saturday three Okehampton Running Club members made the long journey up to Loughborough to represent Devon in the Intercounties X-Country Championships. Thankfully the conditions were much better than last year when the entire course had been a mud bath, with sunshine and good going underfoot. Jo Page was running in the senior ladies team, while Sam Priday was in the Under 15 boys team, and for both these athletes it was their first race wearing the blue and white Devon vest, For Molly Marvin this was her second appearance at these Championships, this time running in the Under 20 Women category. All three produced good runs, Sam in particular, completing the 4K course in 14.25 to be first home for Devon and 74th overall. For Molly this category was a step up in distance from last year to 6k but she finished well in 30.13, the third Devon athlete home. Jo Page had been working abroad and only flew back the day before but still produced a good time round a 10k course, finishing 185th out of 266 runners in 46.45.

Sunday was meant to be Mark Hawkins’ last marathon when he took part in the Barcelona Marathon, his second time round this course. Mark had decided to run one last marathon before returning to the shorter distances he enjoys more, so had chosen Barcelona for his last where he had enjoyed a good run in 2017. However, after entering he had got a surprise entry for the London Marathon which he couldn’t turn down, so Barcelona will be his penultimate one. In very hot conditions and being short of some training miles, Mark was pleased to complete in a good time of 3.53.43, having also raised a large sum of money for the Devon Air Ambulance.

There was a lone Okehampton runner, Mike Baker, at this year’s iconic 20 mile Grizzly which had been cancelled last year due to the untimely “Beast from the East” snowfall. Having trained once for it but not been able to run, Mike finally got the chance to put his training to the test round this very tough course with its many steep climbs, mud, river crossings and pebble beach section. The weather was considerably better this year with a mainly sunny day, although there was a strong and bitter wind. Mike enjoyed both the great atmosphere of this race and tackling the course, finishing in 3.43.44.


Several Okehampton runners took part at the weekend in the Run 4 Rosie, a 24 hour sponsored run fundraising for the Roy Castle Lung Foundation in memory of Rosie Webber who lost her battle with lung cancer last year. Hosted by Chagford Runners, this was a relay style event where the aim was to have someone running around Chagford Parish for every hour between 9.00 am Saturday and 9.00 am Sunday. With 5k, 10k and 10 mile routes this wasn’t a race, just an event to raise some money for this very good cause. Deborah Cunningham, Hannah Ramsay and Kate Wilson all ran the 10 mile course on Saturday, while Jo Page had to return from the X-country Championships in Loughborough before she could complete the 5k course on Saturday evening.


Bideford Half, Duchy 20 and WWL

After last week’s summer temperatures, this week it was back to the reality of wet and windy conditions more usual for this time of year. Unfortunately this change coincided with the Bideford Half Marathon, hosted by Bideford AAC and celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. This hugely popular race is often used by those training for marathons as a marker of how their training is going and starts on Bideford Quay taking the runners inland by road to the Puffing Billy at Torrington, where it turns onto the Tarka Trail to return to Bideford. Okehampton Running Club had a good turnout of runners ready to take on this fast and flat course and they were led home by club Chairman, Jeremy Tandy. More accustomed to off road running and with only one previous road half marathon under his belt, his time of 1.25.37 gave him a twelve minute PB. Hot on his heels was Hayden Bond, also setting a new PB with a great run in 1.25.39, while Stephen Sincock stormed home in 1.26.43 to claim the 1st MV55 prize and set a new club age category record. Claudine Benstead, was the first ORC lady home in a superb time of 1.34.03, to win the FV55 category, also setting a new PB and new club record, while Jane Richardson continues to improve her times with a new PB of 2.16.33 , giving her 3rd place in the FV65 group. There were more personal bests and club records for the runners, with Jo Bradford clearly back on form to finish in 1.45.40, taking the club FV45 record and a PB of over two and a half minutes. Paul Evison knocked 10 minutes off his previous PB with his first sub-two hour finish in 1.50.00, setting a new club MV65 record, while the biggest improvement came from Tom Andrew, whose time of 1.45.33 was nearly a 15 minute PB. Karen Vallance’s PB was set at Bideford eight years ago, so she was pleased to improve on that with her time of 1.46.26. Catherine Walker was running her first ever half marathon and with a lack of training due to injury she was happy to complete in 2.20.02.

Other ORC times; Alec Robinson; 1.39.01, Monika Richards; 1.59.28, Lucy Brint; 2.03.26, Kate Wilson; 2.05.22, Geraldine Walter; 2.05.33, Viki Heyer 2.05.34, Lotte Smith; 2.11.17.

Further afield, there was a revival of another important race for this time of year, the Duchy 20. This race was always perfect for those training for a spring marathon to do a 20 mile run under race conditions, but for organisational reasons hadn’t been held for several years. The course remained the same with a downhill start from the Penventon Hotel in Redruth, taking the runners out towards Illogan then out to the coast road before returning inland to start the shorter second lap. Okehampton had three runners taking part, all training for the London Marathon and they all had good runs, with Rob Kelly first home of the trio in a terrific time of 2.14.07, coming 7th overall and 2nd M35. Training partners Paul Carter and Roger Voaden were the other two running here, Paul finishing in an excellent 2.19.09 to be 2nd MV50 and Roger in 2.22.06 for 3rd MV50.

The final round of the Westward League X-country unfortunately clashed with the Bideford race, meaning a much depleted ORC team took on the Redruth fixture. Wet and windy conditions were experienced here too, with the men’s race in particular being held in gale force conditions as Storm Freya started to take a hold. Mathew Richards was the only junior to run, coming home in 10th position having improved with each of his races, but having only competed in three fixtures he was not placed in his category. Paul Crease had a good run despite the ferocious conditions finishing 11th which was a good enough position to see him come 2nd in his age category in the final placings. Christian Davies and Stuart Page also braved the weather to run here with Christian finishing with his highest placing of 37th and Stuart 52nd. In the final overall positions Okehampton had two runners placed, Paul Crease 2nd MV45 and Stephen Sincock who had already secured his 2nd MV55 place with the luxury of not having to travel down to defend it. Jane Jackson’s cough prevented her from taking part and consequently dropped from second to fourth FV60 and Sarah Marvin also finished in the same position in the FV45 category.

Thank you Jane for the reporting.