Yearly Archives: 2020

Okehampton RC successes in City Runs Virtual Lockdown 2 Challenge

City Runs Exeter put on a virtual running challenge during the recent Lockdown 2, with the aim of keeping the running community motivated. The challenge was for athletes to run any of the distances below between 5th November and 2nd December:

1Mile – 2Mile – 5km – 5Mile – 10km – 10Mile – 13.1Mile – 26.2Mile

The runners submitted their times and the organisers then produced a set of results ranked on the age graded score for the distance run in each “race”. In all there were 118 entries, including a total of 6 by three members of Okehampton RC.

The Prize Winners were both from Okehampton RC.

1st Female: Claudine Benstead – with 3 runs all gaining 90%+ age graded, which is outstanding. She ran 5k in 20:13, 5 miles in 33:44 and 10 miles in 1:10:10.

1st Male: Geoff Hill – with an excellent 89% age grading for his 2 mile run in 9:52. Many congratulations to both Claudine and Geoff.

Mags Jarvis entered 2 runs, a half marathon which she ran in 1:59:22 (77% age grading) and a 5k in 25:35. She came out near the top of the leaderboard in 13th place with her 5k run for which she gained 80% age grading. Mags has Parkinson’s Disease, which is an incurable neurological condition. One of the main symptoms is slowness of movement. She finds that the motivation she gains from the support of her fellow club members and events such as these are vital to keep her positive and actually slows down the progression of her symptoms.


Lockdown Bridge Challenge

The fortnightly Okehampton Running Club Challenge this weekend was just one word – “bridges”. This was left open to the members to interpret in whatever way they chose, all complying with the Lockdown rules of only running with one other socially distanced runner.

It kicked off on Saturday with runners clocking up more and more bridges and those who included Simmons Park in their run were spoilt for choice of bridges. There were some who’s tally were well into the 20’s but these were dwarfed by Karen King and Jo Page’s run where they clocked a staggering 54 bridges in a 16mile run around Okehampton and parts of the moors.

Robert Richards, who set the challenge, had planned his run around some of the beautiful and ancient clapper bridges on the moors. Running with Wendy Walters, they claimed 5 clapper bridges in their 12mile run, but there was one place where the absence of a bridge was keenly felt by Wendy who ended up thigh deep in boggy water!

Also out on the moors was Joe Lane who grabbed the chance of a moor run with a simple solution to the challenge, running from Bridestowe to Two Bridges.

Joanne Baker Teixeira set herself the task of finding the biggest and smallest bridges in the area, covering 8 miles to establish Meldon Viaduct is the biggest and a tiny bridge on the Golf Course is the smallest.

Sunday produced some different takes on the bridges theme. Ian Ripper burned his bridges with an extra pint Saturday night and struggling to get out for a run Sunday! Andy Vallance and Paul Crease decided on a “no bridges” run on the moors, trying to cross the rivers by fords marked on the OS25 map. A great 19mile run resulted in 12 named fords crossed and very wet feet. Jane Jackson only crossed one bridge, at Sheepwash, but did so 60 times, doing it once in both directions for every year she has lived in the village.

Some more traditional bridge-bagging runs were undertaken with Jackie Dawes running with Kate Wilson. This time last year they were both running across the Ponte Vecchio during the Florence Marathon, but got together to run 10miles taking in 28 bridges in the lanes around South Zeal, Sticklepath and South Tawton.

Coach Sarah Bell did 3 separate runs to accompany three “couch to 5k” runners on what is quite a hard stage of their course, having to do a continuous 25min run. Congratulations to Natalie Uglow, Emily Currie, Nick Marvin, Helen Picarella, Charlotte Williams, Kathryn Vile and Beverley Dennis for getting out to take part and to Sarah for her dedicated support.

Some other runners are struggling with motivation, time or coming back from Injury without the club sessions, and Jodie Monnox, Sophie Fletcher and Kerry Morashti found the biggest bridge to cross was actually getting out and running.

Another great challenge was enjoyed by all who took part and one thing became obvious during the course of the challenge – there are more bridges than anyone imagined in and around Okehampton!


Feel the Burn lockdown 2.0 challenge

The implementation of the second lockdown put a stop to Okehampton Running Club’s group runs, all races and the newly set-up Couch to 5k programme. Not to be discouraged at the prospect of returning to running with little motivation, Robert Richards once more set up the fortnightly ORC challenges, giving runners a sense of achievement for completing a run and sharing it on the club’s Facebook page. This kicked off with a challenge to “feel the burn” during a run over the weekend, either by putting a real effort in for the last km of the run, or pushing hard on an uphill section.

Once again ORCs rose to the challenge, with runners either going out on their own or with one socially distanced other runner. First to log in was Bernadette Blackman with a 6.8m run on the moors where her last km was faster despite an uphill finish.

Several headed out to the moors where unfortunately they were enveloped in a thick mist on Saturday, but Rob Hicks managed to put in a fast last km on a tour of the ring road putting him in the lead for the fastest male, only to be overtaken soon after by Joe Lane. He’d narrowly missed a sub 20min 5k on a previous challenge but by running the same route the other way round he achieved his goal in 19.46 with his last km the fastest.

It wasn’t all about speed though, just about putting some effort in to feel the burn in the legs, something Beki Simmons and Hannah Woods felt when they had to divert their route which made their last and fastest km uphill which certainly made their legs burn.

It was very encouraging to see how some of the Couch to 5k runners embraced the challenge incorporating the “feel the burn” into their programme for this week. It’s particularly hard for them as they have only just started running and the support of others is really needed to keep their motivation up so a big well done to Bev Dennis, Charlotte Williams, Natalie Uglow, Vicky Evison, Emily Curry and Jayne Pleace.

Sunday saw  much better day for those who did their challenge on the moors where Phil Turner was the first up there enjoying the beautiful early morning sun and clocking a fast last km albeit a bit downhill.

Joseph Lynch loves these challenges and took part on both days and Carron Holmes also went out for a second try on Sunday. Having narrowly failed to make her last km the fastest on Saturday, she made sure she really made her legs burn this time!

The overall fastest 5k of the challenge was clocked by Robert Kelly on the Granite Way, making it hard for himself by running 20k with each km progressively faster than the previous one, his last being an impressive 3.36.

Anne Binns put in the fastest km for a lady, clocking a 4.11 last km while running with her husband John.

It wasn’t a race to clock the fastest time though. The real aim of this challenge was just to get people out there running and enjoying seeing how fellow club mates did too and in this it was very successful. 76 club runners took part and 5 non-club runners with 56 ladies, 20 men and 4 juniors. All are looking forward to the next challenge.

Twilight Halloween

On Thursday night three Okehampton Running Club members made their way to Scorrier House  in Cornwall for the Purple Gecko Halloween Twilight Run. This was a well organised event that followed all the Covid rules and regulations, while still putting on a fantastically fun and entertaining event, with plenty of mud, hills and Zombies included!

With all three wearing fancy dress, the first off was Keeley Philips in the 5k event, setting off into the darkness at 5.30pm to run her first night race. Taking it steady to enjoy the new experience, Keeley finished in 30.37 having avoided being eaten by Zombies!


The 10k event set off at 7pm, with Erin McDaid having a brilliant run to come home in 1st place in a time of 37.00mins, nine minutes ahead of the second placed runner. Jo Page also had a great race, her time of 47.34 securing her 1st Lady and coming 4th overall.

Run to the Sea

Jane Jackson and Robert Richards took part in the inaugural Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon takes place on Saturday.

The 50km multi terrain route is from Ringwood to Hengistbury Head; absolutely stunning and extremely flat! The first 30km uses the Castleman Trail, a disused railway path,  through lush forestry and tranquil woodlands, to reach Holes Bay and Poole Harbour. Followed by the amazing views over Brownsea Island and Sandbanks before you join the legendary coastal promenade for the final 15km, through Bournemouth, to the most beautiful finish of them all, at Hengistbury Head.

Jane said that although it was a bit too much tarmac on the route for her taste, she surprised herself by enjoying the experience.  As she is still recovering from injury she went with a plan to run sections with brief walking interludes, seeing her finish second lady in her age group in 6h26m.  Robert said that despite it being flat, and without his usual preferences for mud, wind and rain he still enjoyed doing it, and completed in 5h48m.

Virtual London Marathon

With even the postponed London Marathon not being able to go ahead due to the pandemic, Sunday saw nine ORCs take part in the Virtual London Marathon in several different locations. This was going to be a memorable marathon for all of them, but it was the weather conditions that  made it one that they’d never forget. The runners could complete the 26.2miles wherever they wanted with their times being uploaded via the official VLM app or by sending in their times from a running app.

In the appalling conditions on Sunday, the earliest group to start benefitted from slightly better weather, though even they had a headwind on the second half. Robert Kelly, Paul Carter and Graham Bryant ran from Exwick along the Exe valley Way to Dawlish and back, with Robert the fastest of the three, finishing in an excellent 3.02.09. Graham Bryant had trained hard for this marathon and despite the conditions ran an impressive 2min PB to finish in 3.08.58, while Paul Carter finished in 3.30.52.

Several ORCs set off from Meeth on the Tarka Trail to run the full length in a straight line to Barnstaple and they perhaps had some of the worst of the weather in the closing stages where they felt the full force of the 50mph winds and horizontal rain out on the estuary. Jo Page ran this route, having a really great run despite the conditions to finish in 3.32.31, less than 3months after a stress fracture in her foot. Jo Bradford had been plagued by a hamstring injury so, running with Jackie Dawes, her aim was really just to complete. They finished together in 4.13.36, having had to stop for a change of clothes as they were so cold and wet. Jules Lewis-Thompson ran this route solo, overcoming these terrible conditions to complete her first marathon in a very creditable 4.55.04.

Karen King chose to run on the Camel Trail from Camelford to Padstow. Karen’s preparation hadn’t been great but her aim was to complete and raise money for Veterans With Dogs, which she achieved in 4.55.49.

Mel Priday stuck to familiar ground around Okehampton, running on lanes, the Granite Way and even some on the moors. As if this wasn’t hard enough, a miscalculation of the marathon app meant she completed 28.6miles, finally finishing in 6.00.57.

All the runners were very grateful for the much needed support from friends and family along the route.

Two races this weekend

A gloriously sunny autumn day greeted Okehampton Running Club runners taking part in the two local races on Sunday, however both were coastal courses and susceptible to the blustery wind. There were three ORCs representing the club at the Bradly’s 10k held on a flat, two lap, out and back course along the Exmouth sea front. The men’s race set off first with Hayden Bond being the first ORC back in an impressive time of 36.06 to come third overall, while Paul Evison finished in a great time of 49.04. Claudine Benstead was the only female ORC there and, despite the blustery conditions, ran an excellent race to finish in 42.49 to be 2nd Female and first FV60. Unfortunately the course was 300m over distance so times could not be used for PB’s and club records.


In Cornwall three more ORCs took to the coast to run Purple Geko’s Man Up & Down race. Starting at Portreath and following the coast path to Perranporth, this 12 mile race had typical coast path terrain and nearly 2,000ft of elevation making for a tough route, but Eirin Mc Daid took it on at an incredible speed, finishing in 1.31.04 to come first overall. Jo Page was very happy to run her first race since her recent injury, while Keeley Philips, still fresh to trail running, enjoyed the stunning coastal scenery.


Good start to the racing calendar

Jeremy Tandy was racing this weekend, 44 miles from Lizard Point to Lands End along the South West Coast Path in the Endurance Life Classic Quarter ultra marathon in 8h16m58s of non-stop movement, 44.6 miles of which 2K were vertical, Jeremy finished in 8th place overall out of 186 finishers, 2nd in category MV45.
Hayden Bond won the Dartmoor trail half marathon in a time of 1.50.06 on Saturday. The course had views of Dartmoor while running through deeply rutted fields, woodland, and open moorland, with a lot of bogs and river crossings. The half marathon was a 2 lap course. With it not being a mass start no positions where known until the results came out. But huge congrats to Hayden for the surprise win!
On Saturday 5th September Chris Turner completed the Dartmoor 50 which didn’t officially go ahead this year but Chris completed the route or thereabouts in an impressive 11h47m.
Jo Bradford and Jackie Dawes set out at 3pm on Sunday to complete the Virtual Granite Way 20 mile run as there were medals to be claimed after the race was cancelled in March. Staying true to the race, they ran out and back for 5 miles twice. They were also accompanied by fellow ORC Mags Jarvis who cycled the full 20 miles with them.

Racing is back!

With racing back on the agenda, although with fewer numbers and staggered starts, some ORCs grabbed the opportunity to put their club colours on again and get out and race. Hayden Bond and Claudine Benstead had their first race since lockdown when they took part in City Run’s Turn and Burn 5k starting from Exeter Quay on Wednesday evening. To ensure social distancing was maintained, there was a staggered start with runners sent off in twos with a minute between each pair. Claudine headed off first with a great run finishing in exactly 20.00mins to win her age group. Hayden had an excellent run too finishing in 17.13 to set a new PB.

Saturday saw three ORCs racing down in Cornwall. Karen King started the day with the Tribe Pentewen Trail 10k, an out and back run along the wooded Pentewen Valley trail. Karen had a good run to finish the slightly under distance route in 50.46.


She then joined two other ORCs, Keeley Philips and Eirin Mc Daid running the Gecko Gathering Trail races at Scorrier House near Redruth. Here there was a choice of a 5k or 10k route over a fairly hilly course where the 10k ran two laps of the 5k route. This was the first opportunity for new members Keeley and Eirin to run in ORC colours and both did the club proud. Eirin finished in first place in the 10k with an impressive time of 37.41, while Keeley was first FV40 in the 5k in 28.43. Karen finished not far behind Keeley in a time of 28.50.


First events taking place

With the current restrictions due to the Corona Virus outbreak this year’s Chulmleigh Old Fair couldn’t go ahead in its usual format.  The fair is believed to be the longest running Charter Fair in England with 767 years without a break, including through 2 world wars so, determined to not break its continuity, it did go ahead in a reduced format. Included in this was the road race which became a virtual one with runners able to run the usual race route any time between last Tuesday and Friday. They recorded their times on the running Apps Strava or Garmin and sent them in to be assessed. Having won the race last year, Hayden Bond wanted to try and retain the trophy even if it was a virtual race, though running alone is very different to competing in a race with other runners. Karen King also ran this year and both ORCs did very well, Hayden completing the 2 mile course in 12min14sec to set a virtual course record and retain the Cup, while Karen’s time of 20.13 was enough to secure the first Ladies place.

On Sunday Karen was the first Okehampton runner to take part in a race held under restrictions due to the Corona Virus, running the Winding Paths 10k in the woodland of Grammarcombe woods near Ashcombe. It was a two lap race with challenging ground in places and a steep uphill at the end of both laps which Karen completed in 1.08.50 to claim her first trail race medal.