Yet another weekend of dreadful weather didn’t stop Okehampton runners from getting out to tackle some difficult races. On Saturday four ORCs travelled to Looe to take part in the “Hilly & Hellish” Looe Ten Miler in dry but breezy conditions. The route begins on the estuary and climbs through the town and onto the coastal road to Talland Bay taking in several long steep climbs and descents. Looping along winding roads past the lovely Sclerder Abbey, the route re-joins the outward leg for the final three miles back to the town. Great local support and lots of jelly babies all the way round. Dave Bates was first ORC home in a fantastic 1:19:33 to be 1st MV65, followed by Kate Wilson in 1:44:33, Katy Speak in 1:59:41 and Carole Cornwall in 2:01:01
Further afield, another four ORCs took to the fells of the Northern Pennines, running in the 9 mile High Cup Nick Fell Race. Here it was tough going, particularly during a 30 minute snow and hail storm and they faced a strong headwind in the last four miles home. Elliot Hails was the first of the four home finishing in 1.36.16, followed by Merv Rice in 1.51.38, whose whole family was taking part in the race. Ellodie Stott and Katherine Murray ran much of it together with Ellodie coming home in 1.59.05 and Katherine in 1.59.14.
Even more brutal conditions were endured by the quartet of ORCs taking on Puretrail’s Hameldown races on Sunday. The Hameldown Hammer is a tough race in good conditions, but factor in the slippery wet and muddy terrain, the 50mph winds with much stronger gusts and this became quite a challenge. In these extremely testing conditions Jeremy Tandy was the first home for Okehampton, running an incredible race, coming home in 1.49.56 to take second place. Joe Lane also had a great run, coming 9th in 1.57.53 while Christine Fritsch unsurprisingly had her slowest run to date round the course, though still good at 2.52.34. Jane Jackson took the decision to drop to the shorter Hameldown 7even as she had a bad cough and completed this in 1.50.17.
The weather was much kinder to Katie Sherjan at the Exeter 10k, another race that starts on the Quay and takes advantage of the flat Duckes Meadow Park and Riverside Valley Park. Katie had good race, knocking over a minute off her PB to finish in 1.07.00.
In between overnight rain and the incoming Storm Ciara, Saturday provided the perfect running conditions for the Exeter Half Marathon, cool, sunny and not a breath of wind. Starting from Haven Banks in Exeter, the route followed tarmac paths alongside the River Exe down toward Countess Wear, then out for a loop around Matford Business Park before heading back through the Riverside Valley Park past the Double Locks. This 2 lap, mostly flat, and largely traffic free course was made for speed. It was a great day out for team ORC with 8 runners, 5 of whom recorded new PBs.
Hayden Bond was first ORC home in an incredible time of 1.17.54, for a massive PB and 8th place overall. Following him in were Andy Vallance in 1.19.52 (11th) and Paul Crease in 1.21.18, (14th and second in age category, PB). Right on Paul’s heels was Robert Kelly, 1.21.23, (15th) followed by Jonathan Stephens 1.23.06, (21st & PB) and Jeremy Tandy 1.23.45, (23rd & PB). Jo Page also produced a PB to finish in 1.30.47, (67th and 3rd Senior Female), with Peter Dixon achieving a great time of 1.34.03 for 86th place in his first half marathon.
Sunday’s edition of the Exeter Half Marathon was postponed due to the storm.
Saturday also saw the South West Schools X-country Championship, held at Kings Field in Bournemouth. Here again the weather was perfect for running, the calm before the storm.
Okehampton RC had 3 runners representing Devon Schools. The newest member, Stanley Wood representing Minor Boys, Matthew Richards representing Junior Boys and Sam Priday representing Intermediate Boys. All performed amazingly well with Sam 12th overall and 2nd in Devon and his team were placed 3rd. Matthew was 18th overall, 6th in Devon, despite picking up a slight injury, and his team were 1st, while Stanley was 24th overall, 6th in Devon his team were also overall 1st.
On Saturday the mist and rain of the previous days was replaced with blue skies and sunshine for the three Okehampton runners taking part in Endurancelife’s South Devon Coastal Series of races. Chris Turner and Martin Trerise took on the Marathon distance while Jane Jackson ran the 10k as a training run. Starting from the village of Beesands all the routes initially headed south along the coast to Start Point where the 10k looped inland back to the finish, while the other distances continued east along the coast, turning inland at Lingbury Head. The Marathon stayed inland, returning to the coast at Slapton where they followed the coast path back past Slapton Ley to the finish at Beesands. 40mph winds made the coastal sections particularly hard and there were plenty of tough hills to tackle too, but most problematic was the slippery, sticky mud underfoot which stuck heavily to the shoes making both downhill and uphill slow progress. Chris ran a great race coming home in 4.57.41 to be 15th overall, while Martin, only aiming to aim to complete the race, did so in 6.41.22. Jane had a good run finishing in 1.25.37 to be 1st FV60.
Okehampton runner Angus Farrelly was also racing on Saturday, taking part in the Bristol Winter Warmer 10k on the Ashton Court Estate. This was a two lap course with an uphill at the start of each lap, but with a long downhill to the finish. Angus had an enjoyable run, finishing in a very good time of 53.29.