Monthly Archives: June 2019

PB’s and Prizes for Team ORC!

Summer Solstice Fell Race

Two ORC runners ventured out on Wednesday evening to take part in a classic fell race on
beautiful Dartmoor. Mervin Rice and Christine Fritsch took part in the Summer Solstice Fell
Race. This is a low key event in typically relaxed fell running style, on a quite undulated 5
mile course over typical moorland ground, starting from Merrivale. It was a perfect evening; after a miserable morning the sun came out and a bit of a breeze kept the midges away.
Both Mervin and Christine were happy with their performances. Mervin came home as first
MV60 in a very good time of 53:12. Christine finished in 1:00:18, not quite achieving her
goal of a sub 1 hour time, but not far off, coming 2 nd in the FV45 age category.

Race To The King

The sudden change in weather on Saturday to a taste of what summer should be like was
not appreciated by Okehampton runner Jane Jackson who was having her first attempt at a 50mile ultra marathon. Having done several ultras of up to 39 miles in distance, her choice for a 50 miler was Race To The King, a linear race starting near Arundel and following the South Downs Way west to finish on the steps of Winchester Cathedral. Despite the undulating nature of the rolling South Downs it still packed in some long, steep ascents to sap the energy and strength from increasingly tired legs. Even more energy sapping was the hot sunny day, making runners want to linger in the shade where the path took them through woodland and needing to take on board plenty of fluids and salty food at the generously stocked feed stations. Jane had been very unsure as to whether to take up her place in this race having injured her knee some weeks before which was still giving her trouble, only deciding to have a go a week before the race. With her main aim being just to complete Jane intended to take it fairly easy round the route (which turned out to actually be 55.4 miles) but still pushed herself to attack the hills and get as good a time as she could. This resulted in her finishing in a good time of 13hr 35min 22 sec and winning the FV60 age category.


Saturday 22 June saw the return of the Tsunami Ocean Trails, a series of trail races over
different distances: 7 miles, 16 miles, 26 miles (marathon), 37 miles (ultra) and finally a
whopping 75 miles for the “Tsunami 24” with a 24-hour cutoff. The race routes follow the
north Devon and Cornish coast path, with each race starting at separate points along the
coast, but all races finishing in Bude.
ORC was represented in the 7, 16, marathon and ultra races. In the ultra, Rob Richards was
first to start racing – he set of from Westward Ho! with unfinished business from last year’s
Tsunami to resolve! Next up was Gill Spinney in the marathon, starting from Clovelly (yes,
down at the harbour – the race organisers made them walk all the way to the bottom of the
hill before “running” back up!). Christine Fritsch, Jo Page and Jeremy Tandy began the 16 at Hartland Quay. And finally, Phil Spinney set off on the 7 from Morwenstow – but not before Jo page had stopped at the aid station there on route and had a chat while refuelling on Haribos!
The sun was shining for the Tsunami in 2019 showing off the stunning Devon and Cornish
coastal scenery at its best. The downside was the heat making the conditions tough.
Fortunately the blue sea and picturesque beaches along the way were a great distraction
when sweating up the steep hills. Distraction was best avoided on the steep downward
slopes though! No matter which distance, crossing the line in Bude was a relief; made more
special by so many of the runners and their supporters staying around all day to clap in their fellow competitors. A couple who’d booked Bude Castle (the finish point and Race HQ) for their wedding got in on the act too, with a “run” through the finish to be presented with finishers medals as an extra memory on their special day.
In the 7 mile race, Phil Spinney finished in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 49 seconds (35th place,
5th in category) and celebrated with a refreshing foot soak in the canal.
The 16 mile race saw Jeremy Tandy across the line in first place with a time of 2 hours, 56
minutes and 32 seconds. Jo Page kept up the ORC winning streak, crossing in 9th overall and first female. Her time was 3 hours, 18 minutes and 45 seconds. Veteran Tsunami runner
Christine Fritsch finished in 4 hours, 21 minutes and 2 seconds (35th place, 4th in category).
Gill Spinney, in her first ever marathon, did fantastically well to finish such a tough course in 7 hours, 49 minutes and 31 seconds (32nd place, 4th in category).
Finally, Rob Richards crossed the line with minutes to spare before the cutoff in 11 hours
and 43 minutes dead. As he lay on the floor amid applause from the ORC team he was heard to mutter “never again”! But he’d done enough to collect the UTMB points he needed for his next crazy running adventure.

Vancouver Half

On June 23rd, it was the 21st annual Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, known as
Canada’s most scenic half-marathon. More than 6,500 participants ran past beaches and
mountains, finishing in Vancouvers beautiful Stanley Park. The race takes runners on a
scenic point-to-point course with a net drop of almost 300ft and a competitive elite field.
ORC lady Claudine Benstead ran a fantastic time of 1:31:21 to finish 1st lady in her age

Torbay Half

On Sunday six members of Team ORC, travelled to the ‘English Riviera’ to take part in the
Torbay Half Marathon. On a cooler day than the previous 2 years, many runners were
looking forward to completing the two-lap course following the seafront from Paignton to
First home for Okehampton and finishing in 34th place overall was Hayden Bond. Setting an incredible new PB of 1.22.14.
Next to finish was the youthful Mike Westland with a time of 1.51.02, followed by Gaz
Williams finishing in 1.58.22.

Both Catherine Walker and Cameron Whitelaw revelled on the course and for the second
time in the space of 3 weeks finished with two massive PB’s. Catherine running in 2.09.58
and Cameron finishing a second later in 2.09.59.

Liam Keen rounded off a good day for all finishing in a time off 2.11.30.

Obligatory Ice creams and Fish & chips were enjoyed by all after.

Race report compiled by Jo Bradford with special thanks to Christine
Fritsch, Jane Jackson, Jeremy Tandy and Gaz Williams for their input

Lifeboats and Superheros!

Just three days after Okehampton Running Club members turned out in force for the Ruby Run, there was a record entry of 31 ORCs in the Bude Lifeboat Run on Wednesday.

  This has become a hugely popular race, particularly since becoming part of the Cornish Grand Prix Series, and attracts the top Cornish and other club runners. The course had been altered this year and, while the outward run along the cycle path and the return beside the Bude Canal were the same, the section through Whalesborough Farm took advantage of the new Segway path through woodlands and across the fields, extending the race to 6.4 miles. With junior races being held before the senior one, there is always a great atmosphere at this run, although the cold, grey weather didn’t give it the lovely relaxed summer evening feel it usually has.

First home for Okehampton was Sam Priday, running in the senior race for the first time, he scorched round in a superb 38.58 to come in 8th overall and second in his age category. First ORC lady to finish was Karen Vallance running a great race to come home in 49.10. With a big race in ten days Jane Jackson was somewhat cautious on the off road section, but took 3rd FV60 in a time of 57.40, while Jane Richardson won the FV65+ age category in 1.00.46.

Other ORC times:
Hayden Bond; 39.59, Graham Bryant; 43.29, Aedan Lethbridge; (junior) 48.43, John Binns; 48.54, Emma Dean; 49.41, Abby Williams; 50.02, Jo Bradford; 52.25, Jackie Dawes; 54.38, Lu Walsh; 57.42, Jacqueline Rice; 58.32, Geraldine Walter; 1.00.11, Jo Burrow; 1.00.12, Mel Priday; 1.01.23, Beki Simmons; 1.02.11, Katy Speak; 1.02.15, Hannah Woods; 1.05.04, Carole Cornwall; 1.05.09, Ruth Bushell; 1.05,59, Suzanne Gratton; 1.07.11, Anne-Marie Lethbridge; 1.07.20, Kathryn Volkelt- Igoe: 1.08.40, Claire Sprague; 1.14.10, Katie Sherjan; 1.14.11, Janet White; 1.15.07, Fiona Porter; 1.18.52, Sarah Bell; 1.19.30.

Okehampton’s most senior member, Jane Richardson had a great run at the Exeter Riverside Parkrun on Saturday. Having recently achieved a sub 28min time round the 5k course, she ran a very impressive 27.13, breaking her own 65+ club record.

On Sunday Okehampton runner Rachael Haydon took part in the Age UK Superhero 10k race in Exeter. Starting on Exeter Quay, the route takes in the Riverside Valley Park, Double Locks pathway, Northbrook Golf course and returns through woodland leading to Duckes Marsh and the finish on Exeter Quay. In keeping with the superheroes theme, Rachael was dressed as Batwoman for her run and was pleased with her time of 59.20.

Team ORC turns out in force for local races.

Okehampton Running Club’s flagship event of the Summer Series, the Oke Croak, took place on Saturday in the typical Dartmoor weather conditions of four seasons in a day. Early heavy rain that may have deterred some from entering, cleared to sunny spells with occasional downpours of rain and even hail at higher levels, but it was the relentless wind that really affected the runners.

Moved from its traditional date of August Bank Holiday to avoid clashes with other races, torrential rain the day before had also made it very wet underfoot. The course starts in Simmons Park and takes the runners out to the moors via footpaths to Chapel Ford. From here it is very much self navigating out to Oke Tor, where they all have to run through a natural stone arch. The route then turns downhill before taking in East Mill Tor and finally climbing to the top of Yes Tor. From there it really is all downhill, although the boulder-strewn slopes of the tor don’t make for a fast descent but there is some better running from the Army Camp back down to the finish in the park.

With many ORCs out marshalling and another big race on the Sunday, just six Okehampton runners took part. 

First home was Chris Turner who had only decided to run at the last minute, finishing in 1.34.04. He was followed by Mike Baker in 1.44.59. and the first lady ORC, Katherine Murray, running well in her debut Oke Croak to finish in 1.53.11 and be 2nd Lady. Next was Robert Richards in 2.04.58 and Christine Fritsch who claimed the first FV45 despite not feeling well.


Sunday saw an improvement in the weather for the big turnout of ORCs at the Ruby Run Half Marathon. This is a linear race which runs between Holsworthy and Hatherleigh, with the start and finish points alternating between the two towns each year.  It didn’t take place last year after the organisers struggled to get enough help for it, but has been taken on by Hatherleigh Rotary Club and as usual Okehampton runners turned out in force to support this local race.

A last minute change of course due to roadworks extended the route slightly to almost 13.3 miles, but there were still some fast times and new PBs posted by ORCs.




First home for the club was Geoff Hill who had a tussle with club mate Hugh Robinson over the last 200m of the course. Hugh had slowly chased down and overtaken Geoff who then mustered a final sprint to regain his position and finish 6th overall, taking the 1st Local Male trophy and setting a new PB in 1.24.36. Katie Littlejohns had a superb run turning up the speed and overtaking the leading lady in the last four miles, to finish First Lady in a magnificent 1.31.58, setting a new PB over a tough course. Andrew Vernon also had a great run to be 1st M50 in 1.28.14, while Kate Wilson claimed the F55 prize coming home in 1.58.35.  Other ORC times; Hugh Robinson; 1.24.45 (7th overall), John Binns; 1.45.10, Emma Dean; 1.48.00, Paul Evison; 1.48.27, Tom Andrew; 1.51.24, Karen King; 1.51.24, Anne Binns; 1.53.01, Gaz Williams; 2.03.11, Alan Luffingham; 2.07.42, Peter Bolom; 2.07.42, Cameron Whitelaw; 2.10.56 (new PB), Liam Keen; 2.11.31(new PB), Catherine Walker; 2.11.45 (new PB),Rachel Haydon; 2.12.00.

Three Okehampton runners found some sunshine on Sunday when they took part in the Coast to Coast Half Marathon organised by Pretty Damn Fit in Cornwall on Sunday. The route follows the popular cycle trail from Devoran on the south coast along the Mineral Tramway to Portreath on the north coast, a lovely, varied, scenic route with a mixture of terrain. Tracey Mills finished in 2 hours 15 minutes, Carole Cornwall and Katy Speak coming in at 2 hours 30.




During a brief visit home from working abroad, Okehampton’s Jo Page found herself a race and took part in the Arlington Court 10k on Sunday. Organised by North Devon Road Runners, the route follows trails and paths through the beautiful Arlington Court Estate owned by the National Trust. It is well known for being a tough, hilly and often muddy race but Jo took on the challenge with her usual enthusiasm and was rewarded with the First Lady prize, finishing in 46.21.

It was race three of the Run Exe 5K Summer Series last Tuesday. 166 runners turned up to do battle on a windy night down at Exwick. This regular race is a traffic free and fairly flat 5km taking in two laps of the footpaths and cycle tracks around Exwick Playing Fields and the River Exe Flood Relief. First ORC home was Andy Vernon in 18.47. First ORC lady home and winning her age category was Claudine Benstead in 19.53. Next home and third in his age category was Paul Evison in 22.51. Jo Bradford finished in 23.24 placing fourth in her age category. Karen King was delighted to get a new PB of 23.52. Mags Jarvis finished in 25.01 placing third in her age category.

Chagford, Edinburgh, Dartmoor & Burrator- A busy Bank Holiday week for Team ORC!

Traditionally held on May Bank Holiday Monday, this year’s Chagford Two Hills race took place in beautiful sunshine after early showers cleared and with good going        underfoot. The name aptly describes this typical fell race, where the runners struggle up one hill to then immediately descend it the other side and then repeat this with the second hill after negotiating the bog that lies between them. Okehampton Running Club was well represented here with eleven runners all enjoying the three mile course with it’s 1,100ft of ascent. First home was young Mathew Richards, flying up and down the hills to come 4th in the boys 11-15 age category in a time of 31.29. followed by Elliot Hails in 34.53.                        Okehampton’s first lady home was Katherine Murray with a great run to be 5th female over 16 in a time of 39.17 while Christine Fritsch came third in her age                            category in 41.14 despite getting stuck up to her knees in the bog!
Other ORC times; Quincy Richards; 41.58,                                                                Vinnie Richards; 43.09, Rob Richards; 43.58, Heston Richards; 43.58, Kate Wilson; 44.16, Debs Crome; 46.14, Deborah Cunningham, 53.54.

Anne Binns was hoping for a good run at the Edinburgh Marathon where she had run her  marathon PB in 2016, but sadly things didn’t go so well for her here this year. The course which starts in Edinburgh and follows the coastline south to Musselburgh can be susceptible to the wind and the runners had been issued a weather warning for severe winds on race day, but having run her previous race in in similar conditions Anne thought she could cope with this. Unfortunately though she became unwell after 15 miles but continued on at a slower pace to finish in still a respectable time of 4.17.12.

The Dartmoor Discovery, or DD as it is affectionately known, is the longest single lap UK road ultra marathon. 32.5 miles in length with just under 4000ft of elevation.
6 ORC’s took to the course on a warm day with varying degrees of success. Simply getting round the course is an achievement in itself, the DD is known as fairly brutal and it lived up to expectations!
First back for ORC was Robert Kelly who was 4th overall and flew back in 4.10.42. Next back was Jeremy Tandy, fresh meat on the DD course with a time of 4.39.02, good enough for 11th overall and second in his age                  category.
Jo Page had a great run, first                  female, first newcomer and 23rd overall in 4.50.40. An excellent achievement on her maiden                         voyage around the course.
Paul Carter was next in his 10th DD, finishing second M50 in 4.48.15. Next was his partner in crime Roger Voaden who found the going tough and came back in 5.28.                      Finally Graham Bryant came back in 5.35. A good day at the office.

Okehampton’s super fast lady vet, Claudine Benstead, set yet another personal best and age group club record at the Exeter Riverside Parkrun on Saturday. In warm conditions she stormed round to finish in 19min 41sec giving her an impressive age-graded percentage of 95.85%.

Sunday saw two lady ORCs complete the Burrator 10k. This race is held in the           beautiful setting of the Burrator Reservoir, where a fast and flattish course takes the runners round one and two thirds loops of the water. After controversy over the                distance last year, the course has been               re-measured and the start is now right on the Dam bridge. First home was super-vet and youthful septuagenarian                                              Jane Richardson who finished in 59.36, an improvement of nearly 6 mins on last year’s time. Katie Sherjan was ORC’s other                  representative, coming home in 1hr 11 min.