Another weekend of good weather provided ideal running conditions for Okehampton Running Club’s Weekend Challenge for its members and ex-members. The task set for them this time was to just pick an acknowledged race distance and complete a run of that distance wearing club colours and posting their results to ORC’s Facebook page. There was no pressure to actually run it as a race, but it was just to remind runners that despite the lockdown they still could run a race when we finally emerge from this way of life. Some members met the challenge head on, completing a distance they had never done before or hadn’t run for a long time and some pushed themselves to run a virtual Personal Best for their chosen distance.
The distances chosen varied from a 100m sprint by Graham Bryant, to a full marathon, run by marathon specialist Roger Voaden, still a member despite moving away from Okehampton.
The relaxed feeling of choosing your distance and where to run it produced some great results. Jodie Monnox joined the club last October, coming through the couch to 5k course, and was the first runner to log in on Saturday morning. Her description of her run was that she’d decided not to push herself and enjoy her run, and then produced a huge 10k PB.
With some easing of the lockdown restrictions, some members could now get back to running on Dartmoor, a privilege that has only been available to members who lived near enough to run there from their homes. Dartmoor running specialist Christine Fritsch, along with several other “off roaders” took to the moors for their runs, once again enjoying the freedom of the wide open spaces and clocking up some good half marathons in the process.
Another change in the previous regulations meant that people could run with someone else as long as they maintained the 2 meter social distance throughout. Long-time member Beki Simmons has never raced much but with the encouragement of running buddy Jo Burrow she pushed herself to run her first 10miler in over 5 years.
Nicola Leach has only got back to running in the last few months having been concentrating on her nursing training, but despite her long hours recently she completed her first half marathon in 2 years.
Perhaps the toughest 10k was run by Ricky Davies, starting from his house in the town and running all the way to the top of Yes Tor and High Willhays, a continuous climb of 1,669ft.
One of the club’s own races, Marilyn’s Meldon Madness should have been held on Saturday so a few runners chose that route for the challenge. Both last year’s first lady, Katie Littlejohns and Joe Lane ran it from home and back, Joe’s route turning the 5mile race into a half marathon.
Perhaps one of the most poignant runs was from ex-member Claire Stanbury. Saturday should have been her Wedding Day so Claire took her mind off it by running a 10miler challenge, clocking a new PB for the distance wearing her veil.
Just one junior took part this time, Stan Wood who clocked 5min45sec for his 1500m run, a distance he’s trying to improve his time on.
Again, the challenge brought the feeling of being a club back and inspired the members to get out and run. A total of 96 runners took part, running a total of 697 miles, including 30x 5k’s, 32x 10k’s, 22x 10milers, 12 half marathons and one full marathon. As ever thanks goes to Robert Richards for setting, organising and logging the challenge. Okehampton’s ideas are now being taken up by other clubs to keep their members engaged through this period that is understandably devoid of races and club runs.