With the weather set to deteriorate badly on Sunday, five Okehampton runners were lucky to run the Exeter Epic 10k Trail Race on Saturday in pretty good conditions. This is a new race set in Haldon Forest and hosted by Tough Runners UK. Starting and finishing at Exeter Racecourse the promised epic hills turned out to be nothing out of the ordinary for ORCs and with the benefit of a dry week, the paths were less muddy than expected, making for an enjoyable race. First home for the club was ORC junior Sam Priday, storming round in an impressive 38.35 to be 1st Junior and 8th overall out of over 1,200 runners. Chris Fullford Brown was next home in 1.07.52, followed by Claire Sprague in 1.13.59, Melanie Priday in 1.19.49 and Sarah Bell in 1.23.56.
On Saturday two junior ORCs took part in the inter-schools X-country at Stover School,
representing East Devon which oddly Okehampton comes under. With very wet and slippery conditions underfoot, both boys put up strong performances in very competitive races. Representing years 10/11, Sam Priday held off his nearest rival in a strong sprint finish to come 5th. Matthew Richards led for the first lap but was eventually overtaken by a chasing group and finished in 4th place for years 8/9.
The marathon season kicked off with Roger Voaden running the Plym Trail Double Weekend, coming 2nd on Saturday and 4th on Sunday, winning the Double Day on aggregate. At the same venue Kate Wilson ran the Half Marathon finishing in 1.57.00.
Paul Evison headed to Gloucester to run the Gloucester Marathon. This is a looped course which also included a half marathon course leading to some confusion and mis-direction. In very icy conditions Paul ran a great race to complete his first sub-4hour marathon, finishing in 3.56.57, a 10 minute PB, a new club record and giving him a Good for Age time for London. A pretty good performance for someone who never even thought of racing when he joined the club a couple of years ago!
Sunday saw two Orcs venture down to Camborne to tackle the Storm Force 10, one of the Cornish Grand Prix series of races. After an icy start the paths soon thawed and both ORCs had great runs, Andy Vallance finishing in a superb time of 59.46 to be 15th overall and 3rd MV40. Chris Turner continues to improve after injury finishing in an excellent 1.04.42.
In another 10miler on the same day Jo Page and Dave Bates also faced icy roads making for
difficult running in places. The Braunton 10 has two tough hills but the last 4miles are mostly downhill. Jo had a great run, finishing 2nd lady in 1.11.13. Despite not running since injuring his knee at the Brown Willy run, Dave ran an impressive race here to be 1st MV60 in 1.15.04.
There was a good club turnout at the popular First Chance 10k in Exeter where eighteen ORCs steered their way through congested paths and icy patches in this competitive race. First home for Okehampton was Steve Sincock who’s time of 38.30 gave him 2nd MV55 and a new club age category record. Claudine Benstead was the first club lady home in 42.47 for 1st FV60 while Jane Richardson took 3rd FV65 as there was no FV70 category in 59.46. The first three men home, Steve Sincock, Graham Bryant and Andrew Thorne were 13th team out of 21 while the ladies team of Claudine, Jo Bradford and Jackie Dawes 6th out of 22 teams.
Other ORC times; Graham Bryant; 39.11, Andrew Thorne; 47.09, Jo Bradford; 47.59, Jackie
Dawes; 50.21, Lucinda Walsh; 52.48, Viki Heyer; 54.31, Katy Speak; 55.45, Jo Burrow; 56.03,
Vicky Bond; 58.13, Michelle Luddington; 59.42, Ruth Bushell; 1.01.40, Cheryl King; 1.04.56,
Kathryn Volkelt-Igoe; 1.08.17, Vanessa Keast; 1.08.21, Joanne Teixeira; 1.13.57, Lynsey King;
Christmas visits away provided ORCs with opportunities to run some different races. Christine Fritsch was up in the Lake District and took on the Wansfell Fell race. This a typical fell race of one mile up to the top of the fell and then straight back down. Sounds easy enough, but the route is extremely steep and rough underfoot, and with wet and slippery conditions Christine ended up on her backside a couple of times on the descent, but still enjoyed herself, finishing in 38.30.
Jo Page found a quirky race while staying in Shropshire and ran the Sunrise to Sunset Half Marathon. This was loops round a 1k cycle route course and after completing each lap her counting card was stamped. After having her card stamped for the 21st time bell was rung to signal she had finished and Jo was told she was the overall winner, which was a complete surprise to her, with a finish time of 1.35.45.
On New Years Day sixteen ORCS resisted partying too late on New Year’s Eve to enjoy the mud and fun of the traditional Brown Willy run. Supposedly not a race but a social run, the kudos of being to the summit of Brown Willy and back first makes for a fast race at the front. First ORC home was Rob Hicks while Jo Page, who was second lady last year, went one better to be first lady home this year. While the going was perhaps not quite as wet as last year all came home with a fair covering of mud to claim their commemorative fridge magnet and retire to the pub for a drink.
Sunday saw a new race on the calendar, the New Year’s 5 Miler, a flat and fast 3 lap route round Exeter’s Riverside playing field where cool and calm conditions made for some great times. Four ORCs ran here, all finishing in the top 3 of their age categories and three setting new club records. Steve Sincock was the first home in 30.58 to be 1st MV55 (new club record), followed by Claudine Benstead whose time of 34.14 gave her 1st place in FV60 category and set a benchmark record for club FV60s. Paul Evison came third in the MV65”s in a time of 36.49, while Jane Richardson set a new PB and beat her own FV70 record with a time of 48.03
Last weekend saw three ORCs enjoy success at the Southwest X-Country Championships at Aldon Hill, near Yeovil. Jo Page was part of the Devon Senior Ladies team whose impressive running secured them the silver medal place. Mathew Richards had a great run in the Under 15 Boys to be placed 18th overall and 4th Devon boy, the U15 Devon Team taking the silver medal. Mathew has now been selected to go forward to compete in the Inter Counties X-Country Championships at Loughborough in March. Sam Priday put in a strong performance in the very competitive Under 17 Mens race, the Devon Team winning the County Team gold, and has also been selected for the Inter Counties Championships.
ORC Jeremy Tandy took a trip to Cornwall for Freedom Racing’s Clowance Woods Race. This is a 4mile, two lap route starting in front of Clowance House and following muddy trails mainly through woodland. Jeremy enjoyed the run, coming 5th overall and 4th Male in a time of 25.44.