Monthly Archives: July 2019

Fun in the Sun.

Last Wednesday six Okehampton runners enjoyed an evening’s racing over the moors at Merivale when they took part in the Neolith Fell Race. Organised by Tavistock AC and Tamar Trail Runners, this race is only in its second year, but with the typical relaxed fell race atmosphere and lovely route it will doubtless increase in popularity. The course starts at the end of the Neolithic Stone Row across the road from the Dartmoor Inn and the runners follow the line of stones until the Four Winds car park where, after crossing a road, they take the track to the top of Great Mis Tor. After the boulder-strewn top of the tor is negotiated there is a steep but runnable descent to a stream crossing and then a climb up the other side. where a ridge path is taken to Roos Tor followed by a fast and furious descent to the finish behind the pub. First ORC home was Molly Marvin with a great run to win the under 23 age category in 46.09, with Mike Baker next in 49.20 and Robert Richards in 50.47.  Christine Fritsch had a good run, coming home in 53.56, followed by Jane Jackson in 62.37 and Janet White in 72.46.

The same evening a single ORC, Claire Sprague, took part in the Gecko Gathering 10k in Haldon Forest. Organised by Purple Gecko Events, there are 5k or 10k options here, the longer race being two laps of the shorter version and on a warm evening the hilly route made for a tough race. Claire ran the 10k route, finishing in 1.25.46.

On Saturday evening Okehampton runner Hayden Bond took part in the Chulmleigh Fair Race, a route of only 2 miles but with a couple of nasty little hills in the course. As the race started Hayden, along with last years winner, took the lead early on and broke away from the other runners. By the first hill Hayden had the lead and never looked back, winning the race and equalling the course record in 12.29.


Sunday saw the Stoke Gabriel Carnival Run take place in glorious weather. This is a multi-terrain race across fields and bridleways with the occasional stretch on quiet country lanes, following the beautiful River Dart. Despite the warm weather, there was plenty of shade through the trees and along the river with some open farmland making sure you found the heat just about bearable. The route is challenging with some infamous Devon hills but being Carnival Week in the village the atmosphere is very much based on having fun. This year there were two distances – 7 & 5 miles – the shorter 5 mile being an easier route and missing out the fields. Robert Richards was the lone ORC runner here, completing the 7 mile course in 1hr 16mins.

A Busy Week in the Sun.

There were two opportunities last week for ORC runners to get a fast 10k time under their belts with the Exeter 10k being held on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Six Okehampton runners headed to the race on Wednesday and it proved to be a good night of racing for the ORCs: Claudine Benstead won her category, Karen Vallance and Jackie Dawes achieved third place in their respective categories, Jeremy Tandy, Jo Page and Karen Vallance got personal best times for 10k, while Chris Turner had a storming run following his return from injury. Results: Jeremy Tandy; 38. 02, Chris Turner; 40 07, Jo Page; 41.32, Claudine Benstead; 41.44, Karen Vallance; 45.03, and Jackie Dawes; 52.22.
The following evening three more ORCs were racing here with Geoff Hill slightly disappointed with his run, but still finishing in 10th place in a time of 37.36. Jane Richardson was on form again, winning the FV70 category in 61.03 and Katie Sherjan happy to have knocked a minute off her previous best in 71.38.

Thursday evening also saw the annual Tavistock Town Relays and Okehampton Running Club rose to the challenge with enough runners to make up six teams. Four of these teams finished with podium positions, although disappointingly this year only the first placed team in each category were rewarded with medals. The 1.1 mile loop is predominantly flat with just one short hill on the far side of the river. First to go for the club was the junior team being led off with a great run by Mathew Richards who came in fourth overall to hand the baton to TJ, the younger of the Priday brothers. He ran another great lap, maintaining that position and on the third leg Harrison King managed to overtake one of the teams ahead to put them in third place at the changeover. Sam Priday was the anchor man and ran a superb leg, reducing the gap between the second team and ORC from one minute at changeover to just 11seconds at the finish line and recording the fastest time of the day by any junior. Third place overall out of 41 teams and second in their age category was a great result for this young team. Next were the Ladies teams, with ORC fielding two Senior Ladies and one Vet Ladies teams. Katie Littlejohns, Molly Marvin, Katherine Murray and Jo Page made up one of the senior teams and great running by all of them brought them home in 3rd place overall out of 43 teams, and 3rd in their age category. Okehampton’s Vet team of Emma Dean, Jo Bradford, Karen Vallance and Sarah Marvin also secured 3rd place in the Vet Club Women 35 category and a mixed age team of Karen Gear, Lucinda Walsh, Michelle Luddington and Melanie Priday were 28th overall. There were 50 teams in the men’s races and again ORC had three teams running. First home for the club were the senior men’s team of Hayden Bond, Graham Bryant, Tom Andrew and Robert Kelly, all running well to be 12th overall and 9th senior males. The Men’s Vet 45 team of Steve Sincock, Angus Farrell, Ed Dumpleton and Jeremy Tandy finished in 26th place overall and 7th in their age group, while the most senior team of Paul Evison, Robert Richards, Ian Page and Mike Westland were a very creditable 3rd in the Vet 50 category, despite having three runners who were actually over 60.

The Cardinham Summer Series 2019 continued with its fourth event on Friday 19th July – this instalment called “Fiendish” as the difficulty of the course increases. Set in Cardinham Woods near Bodmin, the course took full advantage of the forest tracks and ample elevation changes – with over 1000 feet of elevation gain and three lung-bursting climbs thrown in to the 10km course. With torrential rain hammering down and only adding to the atmosphere, ORCs Jo Page and Jeremy Tandy lined up to start with 100 other runners. Jeremy was second overall in a time of 45.35, losing out by a mere 4 seconds from the winner. Jo was eleventh overall and second lady with a time of 51.09.

Geoff Hill was in Tavistock the following Saturday where, having had a slightly disappointing run at the Exeter 10k on Wednesday, he went on to set not only a PB, but also a club record and a course record in the Tavy 5k, finishing in 17.32 claiming a platinum award with this time.

Seven ORCs headed to the Halwill Gala on Saturday afternoon to compete in the 5-mile Fun Run. The course started from Halwill Junction and quickly headed out onto the forest tracks. In the lead, Hayden Bond had no trouble following the excellent course markings. His main concern was the dogged pursuit of Jeremy Tandy, who could never quite muster the speed to get ahead. Finishing in 1st and 2nd place, with times of 31.48 and 31.55 Hayden and Jeremy made it a one-two finish for ORC. In 4th place with a time of 35.20, the next ORC to cross the line was Jo Page with another great performance, being First Lady on her fourth consecutive day of racing. Tom Andrew had his best run in ages in 6th place 38.24. Ian Page came home in 8th place in 38.43. Merv Rice finished in 40.26 and completing the ORC finishers was Karen Gear in 42.00 to cross the line as Second Lady.

Sun, Sea & Trails!

Poldhu 10k Summer Sessions beach race

Two ORCs, Jo Page and Jeremy Tandy, made the trip to Poldhu Cove, Cornwall, on Thursday 11th July for the third instalment of Freedom Racing’s Summer Sessions 10k races. Hot, sunny weather gave way to a muggy evening and eventual drizzle – but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits! Setting off north from Poldhu Cove, the route headed up and over the headland to Church Cove and onward along the “undulating” coastal path through Gunwalloe before turning back and making the runners climb all those hills again. Fortunately, the stunning coastal scenery provided ample distraction from the pain in the legs! Jeremy Tandy finished in 7th place, with a time of 47min 06sec, and Jo Page finished in 17th place, 51min 33sec, as second place lady.

Haytor Heller

ORCs Tom Andrew and Jeremy Tandy tackled the Haytor Heller on Saturday 13th July. Organised by the Teignbridge Trotters, this was the 34th year of the 6-mile off road race. Starting halfway up Haytor (thankfully!) the route headed directly up to Haytor Rocks before heading into the stunning Dartmoor landscape. Out to Holwell Tor, then boulder-hopping down technical single track to Becka Brook before heading up the steep ascent to Hound Tor and then down again through more twisty single track and across the brook once more (wet feet this time!). The route then climbed to Black Hill and then, with runners gasping for breath, all the way back up to Haytor Rocks and a steep grassy descent to the finishing line. Jeremy Tandy, in his second race of the day, finished in 19th place with a time of 48min 45sec (and third in MV45 category). Tom Andrew finished in 150th place with a big smile on his face and a time of 66min 50seconds. ORCs will definitely be back in 2020 for this gem of a race!

Lydford Dash

The third running of the Lydford Dash took place on Saturday (13th) and attracted 11 Okehampton Running Club runners. The weather was overcast which made conditions better than during the preceding week. The race took place alongside other events in the Lydford Summer Fair. The route was multi terrain, being fairly rough in places. It was basically a figure of 8 course, running on paths and tracks, including the West Devon Way and up and across Fernworthy Down where the runners had excellent views of the moor and surrounding countryside, not that they stopped to look!! First ORC home was Jeremy Tandy in an excellent 32.01 and he was 2nd M40, followed by Andy Vernon who finished in 34.00 and was placed 2nd in the M50 category. First ORC lady to finish was Jo Page in 36.13 and she was 2nd lady overall. Molly Marvin had a great run, forging ahead of her mum to finish 3rd lady, in 37.44. Phil Read finished just ahead of Sarah Marvin in 39.14 and 40.07 respectively. Sarah won first prize in the W40 age category. Ian Page came in next in 41.21 and he was placed 3rd in the M60 category. Christine Fritsch crossed the line in 46.08 and was 3rd in the W40 category. Mags Jarvis came home in 47.21 and she was 2nd in the W60 age category. Janet White was happy that she completed the race in under an hour, in 59.32. Fiona Porter looked like she had really enjoyed the race when she crossed the line 61.34. Andy, Jo, Christine and Janet were all very pleased that their times were faster than they ran last year.

Race To The Stones

Having run her first 55mile Ultra Marathon successfully three weeks ago, Okehampton runner Jane Jackson moved up to attempt a 100k Ultra last Saturday. The Race To The Stones is an iconic 64miler starting in the Oxford Chilterns and following the ancient Ridgeway west to finish at the Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire. Jane’s morning didn’t start well when the bus taking runners from the finish to the start was so held up in traffic that the runners gave up, got off and walked in adding an extra mile to their day. Twelve miles into the race Jane was one of many to fall, victims of a path full of tree roots, suffering cuts and bruising her ribs. She continued on, determined to finish the race despite having to breathe in shallow breaths. The day was hot and with very little shade on the ridgeway it all made for an uncomfortable day. From 40miles on Jane experienced the nausea she had at the end of her previous ultra and kept going on small sips of water and no food, eventually finishing in 17.03.30, having not enjoyed the experience at all but pleased to have completed.

A busy week of running for Team ORC.

Sunday saw the third in Okehampton’s summer Race Series, the Cosdon Hill race. This lovely little race is a typical up and down, self navigating fell race held in conjunction with the Belstone Fair.    

While short in distance at just 3.5 miles, this race is guaranteed to get the heart rate soaring with the long climb over open moorland with no path to define the route for some of the way, to the top of Cosdon Beacon, before flying back down to Belstone Common for the finish. A large area of bog is waiting to catch the unwary taking too straight a path on the way down, while many trodden paths can lead runners to the wrong destination. This was not the case for overall winner Tim Lenton or Female winner Jo Meek who both set new course records, Tim finishing in an incredible 28.52 and Jo in 33.54. First home or ORC was Geoff Hill in a rare off road run and having come first at the Run In The Park earlier that day with a superb PB of 18.01, finishing in 10th place here in a time of 34.17. Not far behind him was Paul Crease, recently back from injury, coming home in 34.26, and chased home by ORC junior runner Mathew Richards who ran an impressively strong race, finishing only seconds behind Paul in 34.31. Robert Kelly was next in 35.10, also on his second race of the day having run the Barnstaple 10k earlier. Indigo Ramsey headed another group of ORC finishers, completing in 43.36, followed by Molly Marvin in 43.37 and Merv Rice in 43.31. Rob Hicks, usually to be found at the head of this race was running with his son Arthur, a junior member who pipped his dad to the post in 44.06 with Rob just behind in 44.10. Phil Read was next in 45.04 and Katherine Murray, now well into her Dartmoor Marathon training, to be first ORC lady in 48.56. Paul Evison was next in 58.42 and Janet White in 1.01.27.

On Sunday morning five Okehampton runners took part in the Care for Kids Barnstaple 10k. the race starts at Park School, and then meanders around the historic Rock Park before it continues along Taw Vale and the Strand using the Tarka Trail and over the Taw Bridge, which is the steepest part of the course. It then returns back to the town square along the riverside and into Rock Park, finishing back at Park School.

The course is a flat, fast one, perfect for a first race as well as an ideal opportunity to gain a personal best. First home for the club was Robert Kelly in a time of 37.43 to be placed fourth overall. Next was Jo Page, coming home in 42.36 to take the First Lady prize. New member Karen Gear was next, finishing in 51.53 to be fourth FV35, while Joseph Lynch and Charlotte Lynch ran together, finishing in 1.22.40 in their first 10k race.

A single ORC, Hayden Bond, travelled to Tenby in Pembrokeshire to take part in the Tenby Half Marathon. This is held alongside the Wales Marathon, with the Half runners starting in Pembroke at the halfway mark of the marathon and following marathon’s route back to the start on closed traffic free roads. The course is set in the Pembrokeshire National Park and is a testing route with over 1,00ft of ascent. Hayden ran a superb race, enjoying the support from the crowds over the red carpet finishing straight, his time of 1.31.23 placing him 9th overall.


Tuesday night saw eight Okehampton Runners take part in round four of the Run Exe Summer series 5k. Whilst Exeter was graced with blazing sunshine, the accompanying strong head wind along the river made conditions on the back straight, which participants run along twice, reasonably challenging.

First home was Roger Voaden, taking a break from his usual long distance running and happy with his time of 18.45, winning his age category in the process. Next in was Graham Bryant in 19.02, closely (a little too close for comfort at one stage) followed by another age category winner Stephen Sincock a massive one minute inside his platinum award time target, finishing in 19.08.

Next in was Jo Page who finished as second senior lady in 20.46. Another age category winner on the night was Claudine Benstead who finished in 21.00. Paul Evison was next in, in a time of 23.06.

Closely following behind was Jo Bradford who finished in 23.26. Margaret Jarvis came home in 25.26 to finish third in her age category.

Having completed 3 races apiece in the series now, Jo Bradford and Mags Jarvis are well placed for podium finishes in their respective age categories leaving it with all to play for with two rounds left. Good running all!


Jo Page had a characteristically busy weekend, doing three races in Cornwall on the same day!  The ‘Smuggler’s Scuttler’ pirate and smuggling half marathon route runs from Land’s End to the top of Cape Cornwall and back again.  The race starts at Peal Point at Land’s End, goes past the Mayon watchtower and into Sennen Cove and along the pathways to Priests Cove, up to the top of Cape Cornwall and then returns. Once at the top, runners pick up the loot (including rum, coins, gems and teabags) and bring them back to the finish or risk disqualification. No booty no medal! This race had the potential to have some lovely views but sadly they were not present during the race this time due to the sea mist. Jo was the 1st Female, 9th overall and crossed the line in a time of 2:14:23 which is a course record by over 17 minutes.

Later that day Jo joined hundreds of runners and music lovers on Watergate Bay at sunset to do the Rock 2 Rock races. The tide only goes low enough to run from one rock to the other rock at each end of the beach 3 times a year. Jo ran both the 2k and the 5k beach race which was then followed by a beach party and all topped off with a Firework display!





Angus Farrelly and Alec Robinson finished a hard North Devon AONB Half Marathon in Woolacombe today on a course which offers as many stunning views as it does challenging hills. The multi-terrain course involves roads, trails, beaches, fields, steps and the incredible South West Coast Path.

Jo Teixeira, Lynsey King and Vanessa King took on a hot Barnstaple Race for Life 10K on Sunday, finishing in 1:10:14. The ladies were running a 10K distance after successfully completing a couch to 5K programme over 10 weeks with Okehampton Running Club last September.  They are an inspiration to others, so if you have felt inspired by them and are interested in doing a couch to 5k, the ORCs will be starting the next programme in September 2019, please see their website for details.