Club news

London and Shakespeare Marathons

Six ORCs made the annual pilgrimage to the crown jewel in the UK road runner’s calendar this Sunday – the Virgin London Marathon. Five of those six had qualified for their places with good for age times from other marathons and were hopeful of running strong times again, cheered on by the cacophony of support that the enormous event, with a field of 44,000 runners, provides. The weather was favourable with cool temperatures and not enough wind to justifiably use as an excuse.

True to recent form, Rob Kelly was first ORC across the iconic finish line on the Mall in a new PB of 2:53:31 – he just keeps getting quicker.

Andy Valance had been unlucky in that his training was badly interrupted by illness in February, but Andy knows how to run a quick marathon and is made of tough stuff. He ran with me the whole way (well, pretty much – he stopped for the loo and to hug his family before looning around like an aeroplane on The Mall; I didn’t stop, took racing lines and generally just suffered) before we crossed the line together in 2:56:52. That was a massive PB for me and my first sub 3 hour – something I’ve been chasing for a long time – and was pleased with a negative split.

Roger Voaden was running his 101st marathon and had actually had time to recover from his 100th marathon (for a change) in addition to put in a good block of training. That resulted in an amazing time for the vet 50 of 2:59:02.

Next home was Roger’s vet 50 stable mate Paul Carter who was rightfully extremely happy with a time of 3:00:33.
Club marathon record holder Matt Pitson had struggled with a hip injury during his training which had inhibited his mileage. He worked hard to go for a sub 3 hour time but couldn’t maintain his early pace and ultimately finished in 3:07:46.

Mark Hawkins had more altruistic reasons for running the London Marathon this year. Whilst he had managed to obtain one of the rarest of commodities – a place through the ballot – he elected to run for Devon Air Ambulance. Mark was lucky to get a helicopter ride from the air ambulance a few years ago (not that he remembers it) and has been supporting the charity ever since. He was just about recovered from his early spring marathon in Barcelona so was not hopeful of his best time, but ran an intelligent, even pace to achieve a time of 3:48:50. Take a look at Mark’s facebook page if you’d like to sponsor him post event.

In contrast to the Virgin London Marathon, two of our members instead travelled to compete in The Rotary Shakespeare Marathon to experience the world famous Stratford-upon-Avon swapping inner city roads to run amongst some of the most historical buildings in the country and through miles of beautiful Warwickshire countryside.

A mainly flat, two lap course, starting in the centre of the town, opposite Shakespeare’s old school, taking in sights such as the River Avon, Holy Trinity Church (home to the grave of William Shakespeare) and the Royal Shakespeare Theatres, through quintessential English villages, with chocolate box thatch roof cottages, hump back bridges and pretty dry stone walls.

The day started cold and overcast with a blustery wind left over from the remains of Storm Hannah, but escaping any rain.

The runners enjoyed a well organised and marshalled event with pockets of support throughout the course and even a steel band playing the runners back into town along The Greenway Trail.

Steve Sincock was competing in his first marathon race for nine years and was pleased with his time of 03:08:44 finishing in 30th position overall and second MV55.

Paul Evison was taking part in his first ever marathon and at the age of 66 years made his finishing time of 04:07:51 all the more impressive and a massive achievement finishing as fourth MV65.

Both Steve and Paul’s times were good enough for their respective club age group records

…and finally…

Paul Crease ran in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Fell Race this weekend. First run in 1954 the race covers 37.4 km and 1608m of ascent and descent over the rugged and spectacular countryside of the Yorkshire Dales. The course starts in Horton in Ribblesdale then immediately ascends Pen-y-Ghent and continues on a circular route taking in the iconic peaks of Whernisde and Ingleborough before the long descent back to Horton.
One of the oldest and probably the most (in)famous race in the fell racing calendar (it features as one of the 50 races to do before you die!) it has been won by the great and the good of fell racing through the years and this year was won by a Devon exile Brennan Townshend! In the mind-boggling time of 2hrs 50mins 22secs!
The route is a mix of brutally steep and long climbs, fast but technical descents and long stretches of either very fast and runnable track or track so littered with jagged limestone you need feet and ankles of steel to negotiate at anything above a walking pace. This combined with the climatic conditions encountered in the Yorkshire Dales in April where you are at constant risk of either sunburn or hypothermia or both makes this race either for the brave or the stupid… draw your own conclusions.
To enter you need to first satisfy the qualifying criteria and then if offered a place you can toe the line with the other 916 starters for this year’s race.
This years event gave the contenders a tase of all 4 seasons in one day, Mist on Pen-y-ghent, sunshine atop Whernside and then Ingleborough provided howling sub zero winds and mist, which was described by some as Biblical!
Paul Crease gave an excellent account of himself as a first timer with a time of 3hrs 54 mins and 58 secs. You might want to leave it a week or two before asking him if he’d ever do it again..

Short and sweet

On Saturday Okehampton running Club’s most senior member, Jane Richardson, proved that age is no barrier to improving you running. Jane actually didn’t start running until late in life, in fact at the sort of age when many have to stop, but this hasn’t deterred her from improving her times and increasing her distances raced since joining the club and she recently moved up a group in the club sessions. She started running five years ago with Parkruns and is still a prolific participant at these, clocking up her 150th at the Exeter Riverside Parkrun last weekend. As if this milestone wasn’t enough to celebrate, Jane had her best ever run, finishing in 27.29 to set a fantastic new PB and gain her first Platinum award for the distance. This will also be her last run in that age category as when she runs next week she will remarkably be in the 70+ category!

Two Okehampton runners, Carole Cornwall and Katy Speak, paid another visit to the Honiton Hippo on Sunday, having both run it twice before which must say something about their enjoyment of getting muddy and wet! This 7 mile race takes runners along woodland paths, across muddy fields and throws in a couple of river crossings to clean them up. On a bitterly cold and windy day, more in keeping with February than April, the deep muddy ditches and river crossings left the pair of them with numb feet, but the cold conditions may have been a factor in the two ORCs coming home seven minutes faster than last year in 1hr 33min.

Manchester and Vienna Marathon and more

The racing season really took off this weekend for our members who took part in no less than eight different races. There was a good ORC presence at the Greater Manchester Marathon and this is Jo Bradford’s report on it.

A fantastic day out for the ORCs in Manchester’s Marathon today in perfect running conditions. The day started cool and overcast with sunshine breaking through later on. Manchester is billed as the UK’s flattest marathon and as such is a popular place for people looking for fast qualifying times for the major marathons. The ORCs were no exception with several out hunting for good for age qualifying times for London 2020, club records and PBs and they romped home with fistfuls of them.

The ever speedy Jeremy Tandy flew round the course and was first ORC back with a fantastic 12 minute PB in a time of 03:02:52.

Second ORC home and First Lady ORC was Jo Page who has had difficulties with staying on top of her training program due to work commitments and was therefore concerned going into the race. But of course she stormed round finishing with a 6 minute PB and club record in a fantastic time of 03:16:34.

Graham Bryant found the going tough today and was simply “pleased to finish in one piece” in a time of 03:37:44.

Jo Bradford was running her first marathon, she followed an unusually low mileage training plan which paid off perfectly, as she achieved her target of a sub 3:50 first marathon and also set a new Vet45 club record by 6 minutes in a time of 03:49:10.

Monika Richards was next ORC home and also said that this was her most difficult marathon so far finishing in 4:16:21

Karen King and Tom Andrew were also out running in their first marathons today, they had done the majority of their training together and ran the race together too, very happy to have soaked up the atmosphere and comfortably finishing inside their 4:30 target time in 04:17:19.

Jeremy Tandy, Jo Page and Jo Bradford are all waiting to see what the 2020 London Marathon Good For Age qualifying times will be when they’re published next month, as they have all achieved qualifying times today based on the current GFA target times.

Two ORC travelled much further to take part in their marathon. Andrew Vernon and Lotte Smith chose the Vienna Marathon which takes in the city’s most impressive modern and historic sights including the famous Opera house. For Lotte this was her first attempt at a marathon and Andrew had only completed one other 24 years ago. Both enjoyed their races, Andrew finishing in an excellent 3.17.12, a 12min PB on that previous run and Lotte was very happy with her time of 5.05.32.

Much nearer home was the Taunton Half Marathon and Marathon. As well as running a brilliant race, Hugh Robinson wrote a great report on it.

Good times in the town on the Tone!

ORC were well represented at the Taunton Half Marathon this morning.The conditions were as good as it gets with cool, overcast weather accompanying the runners round the relatively flat course on a single loop round the Tone river valley.

First ORC home was Rob Kelly in 15th and a time of 1:19:33 (also the 1st MV35) – not bad an end to a 70 mile training week. Next home was yours truly in 1:20:44 – 2nd MV40 and a PB by nearly 2 minutes (marathon training is clearly paying off). Paul Carter faded a little thanks to a stinking cold, but still ran an impressive 1:22:54 (3rd MV50). Those three placings won ORC the first male team prize – beating Taunton into second on their home race! Stephen Sincock followed with another vet victory, this time in the MV55 race, in 1:26:29. Paul Evison continued his impressive form with a new PB of 1:47:04 and 5th in the MV65 category. The sole ORC lady was Rachel Haydon happy in 2:10:37.

Andrew Thorne headed out for a second lap of the course in the marathon distance and completed in 3.46.46.

The South West Coast Path was the location for three Okehampton runners to tackle a very challenging race on Sunday. The Exe to Axe is a point to point race which, at 22 miles, is in fact longer and tougher than the iconic Grizzly, although lacking the kudos of that race. With nearly 4,000ft of ascent, the relentless hills and steps, particularly in the later stages, make this a real test of endurance . This didn’t worry Paul Crease who stormed round to complete in an incredible time of 3.17.45, while Stephen Gentle also ran a great race to finish in 3.24.05. Christine Fritsch has completed this race once before, but this year was using it as a training run for her upcoming Three Peaks Race and was happy with her run in 5.24.07.

The South Devon coast path was also the location for Trail Events’ South West Coast Path Trail Challenge on Saturday where Okehampton had runners in the Half Marathon and the 12k.The runners westwards from the start at East Soar Outdoor Centre across fields towards Bolberry Down, following the coast path back to Bolt Head before heading back uphill to East Soar Farm. The 22k continues on from Bolberry to Hope Cove then joins the coast path back to Overbecks House before heading back to the finish. Conditions underfoot were surprisingly good after the rain, but the strong easterly headwind made the run back along the coast very hard work. Sarah Marvin ran a fantastic race in the half Marathon, finishing in 2.15.59 to be placed 3rd Lady. Kate Wilson was the first ORC in the 12k with an excellent time of 1.17.22, followed by Jane Jackson in 1.23.55, Deborah Cunningham in 1.30.42 and Claire Sprague in 1.41.15.

One Okehampton Running Club member, Jo Turner, faced a big challenge on Saturday when she took on her first 50 mile Ultra Marathon. Jo is an experienced runner over big distances but this was the first time she had tackled this distance in one day. Centurion Running’s South Downs Way 50 starts in Worthing and follows the South Downs Way to Eastbourne, where the runners finish with a circuit of the running track. Jo ran really well until a knee problem started to slow her down and then became increasingly painful forcing her to retire after 37miles.

Matthew Richards came in second in the monthly Park Run with a amazing time of 19:56mins a PB for him also.

Thanks Jane, Hugh and Jo Bradford who contributed this week.

Couple of Half’s and a real Ooser!

With the approach of some of the big road marathons in the next few weeks, there were still plenty of other races where Okehampton Running Club members were out competing. For Hayden Bond it was the fast, flat course of the Cardiff 10k, this year incorporating the Welsh 10k Championships. The route takes in all of Cardiff Bay’s most iconic landmarks, starting and finishing in Roald Dahl Plass and passing the Wales Millennium Centre, Mermaid Quay, the Pierhead Building and the Cardiff Bay Barrage. Hayden produced a superb, well paced run here, finishing in 38.16, knocking two minutes off his current PB.

At the Yeovil Half Marathon there was also just one Okehampton runner taking part. With a start and finish in the town centre, the route then heads along the entire length of Yeovil Country Park. It then leaves the town on the western side to Montacute House, before returning on quiet country roads to the Town Centre finish in the Quedam Shopping Centre. Liam Keen ran the Weymouth Half Marathon two weeks ago and finished here in a very similar time of 2.17.49.

The strangely named Dorset Ooser, named after an evil-looking wooden mask of local folklore, was the race choice for three ORCs. Lucy Marrison, Phil Turner and Ali Holiday took part in this off road marathon, organised by Badger Trail Events where they were promised plenty of hills, a fair bit of mud two fords to cross and some stiles to climb over. Starting in the small hamlet of Turners Puddle, the route immediately goes uphill to follow farm tracks, fields, trails through ancient woodlands and open heathland. With the recent dry weather the mud was in very short supply but the race lived up to its other promises. Lucy was the first of the trio home, having a really great run to finish in an excellent 5.05.02. Phil was running his first marathon of any sort and ran with Ali, enjoying the race despite finding it tough in the last few miles, to finish together in 6.25.15 which was under their target time.