Monthly Archives: June 2020

Special event weekend

Okehampton Running Club’s fortnightly Challenge this weekend was to complete a run that was “special”. This could be a route that is special, running with someone special or anything that makes it a special run. As always social distancing had to be maintained between runners and a picture posted on the club’s Facebook page as evidence of the run.

For many the special thing about their runs was the company they shared it with and about the support and encouragement they gave.  Paul Evison ran with his daughter Karen and grandson, Karen having been the one to encourage Paul to take up running. Hannah Ramsey and Debs Crome enjoyed each others company for the first time since March with a wild, wet and windy run on the moors. Claire Sprague, Jackie Dawes, Jessica Corcoran, Sarah Bell and Katie Sherjan met up for an early run in Fingle Woods on Saturday morning enjoying a post run picnic breakfast together after.

Once again this was open to ex-members, some of whom have rejoined the club having enjoyed the support of club members through Lockdown. Cathy Carey was one such ex-member, who had lost the love of running slightly, but through these challenges and the company of others, both virtual and real, has embraced running once more, rejoining the club. Her special run with friends saw her hit her target of running 200k in a month for the first time.

Two of ORC’s senior members Jane Richardson and Jane Jackson shared their first runs with a fellow ORC since Lockdown. Jane Richardson had self isolated completely until 2 weeks ago doing all her running round her garden and wearing a deep groove in the ground in the process. She’s entered virtual races to keep her motivated and in March she decided to take up the Run Every Day Challenge. Sunday saw her 99th day of the challenge, just one day off her 100 day target, most of which was completed in the limited space of laps of her garden and having run over 200miles in the process. Jane is a true inspiration to all in the club.

When it came to special routes these varied from Christine Fritsch running the route of one of her favourite races, the Haytor Heller to Jodie Monnox and Gemma Lawson running on the Granite Way, where they completed their first 5k time trial after “graduating” from the Couch to 5k course. Anne and John Binns went to their local Parkrun course, the Tamar Lakes as like many other members they are missing their weekly Parkruns. Lucy Brint took to Simmons Park to run the route of the monthly Run in the Park which was her first run after finding she’d got a London Marathon place and Danniella Tansley returned to where she first wore a race bib and where she did her first Parkrun at Exeter Riverside.

For Karen King Lockdown has been tough as a key worker and coping with a family. Despite living in Okehampton for several years Karen had hardly ever been onto the moors until recently when she started going for walks up there with fellow ORC Jo Page and has grown to love Dartmoor, enjoying the time to escape all the stresses of lockdown. Fittingly her special run was on the moors with Jo and Hayden Bond.

Katy Graves and Carole Cornwall made their run special by dedicating it to their friend Kath Bolt who has passed away. They had all started running with the Women’s Running Network, long before ORC existed, all doing their coaching course together and will always have Kath in their hearts.

Two runners, Stuart Page and Robert Richards celebrated their birthdays at the weekend so their runs were on a special day.

Paul Crease has for some time been on a mission to “bag” every Tor on Dartmoor on his runs. This has led to some convoluted run routes, often with barely a path to follow and many hours out running on the remote areas of the moors. Sunday was indeed a special run for him as he finally completed his mission, having bagged 415 Tors, 55 Hills, covering 615 miles with 100,487ft ascent over 52 runs. That definitely qualifies as a special achievement.

Once again thanks to Robert Richards for setting the challenge and collating the results.

The “BIG” challenge event

Another running challenge was set for Okehampton Running Club members to tackle last weekend. This time it was just a one word challenge – BIG, leaving the members to put their own interpretation on it. Luckily, despite a bad forecast both days turned out to be pretty good weather conditions for running and many headed out to the moors to make their runs BIG on elevation.


High Willhays was the most popular spot, being the highest point in the south of England and with a total of 12 ORCs choosing to run up this big hill, some taking in Yes Tor too. Robert Richards didn’t visit High Willhays, as three times up and down Yes Tor from different directions was sufficient for his BIG run with an elevation of over 1,000m. With the easing of lockdown guidelines it was now possible for groups of up to 6 people to run together while maintaining a social distance so a group of 5 visited these two high points early Saturday morning when the run was best described as windy, foggy and boggy – Dartmoor at its best!

Just running on the moors was a BIG challenge for some of the confirmed road runners in the club, so moor runner Ali Holiday guided a group out to one of her favourite high places on the moors, Hangingstone Hill.

Joe Lane enjoyed a misty run early on Saturday when he based his route on the letters B.I.G being the first letter of places visited. These were Belstone Tor, Ivy Tor and much further away, Garteven Ford, though the inclusion of this was probably just an excuse for a long run on the moors!

There were some inspiring runs from members who used the challenge to take on runs of a bigger distance than they’d ever done. Gemma Lawson and Jodie Monnox were completely new to running when they took part in the club’s Couch to 5k course and gradually they have increased the distance of their runs until this weekend when they both did their BIGGEST runs ever, completing a half marathon.

Robert Kelly took the biggest run theme to another level. Having had his favourite race, the 32mile Dartmoor Discovery, cancelled this year, and having just turned 40 he decided to do a 40 mile run, his BIGGEST run ever. Running repeated out and back loops on the Granite Way, he stopped only to take on board food and talk to his family who had come out to support him. 

BIG became a relative word for runners coming back from injury. One of the club’s most senior runners, Janet White, broke her ankle last year while running on the moors. The timing was bad with first Christmas, then bad weather and finally Lockdown making it hard for her to get back into some sort of running routine. Recently she started a return to running program so 5 times 4minute runs was a Big mark in her comeback and the club members look forward to seeing her out on the moors once more. BIG was also relative for ORC’s most senior runner, Jane Richardson who has spent the last 12weeks in complete lockdown, only running round her garden, so a 3k run certainly felt BIG.

There were several attempts at “Strava art” by members to “write” the words BIG with their route showing on their Strava running app. Ricky Davies’ was the best of these, with a well planned and very readable BIG-on-a-stick!

Sunday saw some very BIG runs too. Jo Page and Jo Turner had a lovely morning running the Dartmoor 600’s, a 19 mile self chosen route covering all of Dartmoor’s peaks over 600m.

The word BIG didn’t really begin to describe the run taken on by three ORCs and a friend who followed the route of the Dartmoor Perambulation. This is an ancient route dating back to 1240 when King Henry III decreed that the Sheriff of Devon and 12 lawful knights of the country” should confirm the boundary of the Forest of Dartmoor. 780 years ago this was completed on horseback, and the runner’s route visited all the points listed in the original boundary perambulation, resulting in a run of 48miles across rough terrain with an ascent of over 2,200m.

Five ORC ladies made up a virtual relay team over the weekend, taking part in the V55 category of the Eikden Relays, a virtual race with the runners total distance covering a full marathon, 42k. With a few last-minute reshuffles of the team due to injury and one team member thinking she was older than she was, Claudine Benstead ran two legs and Michelle Luddington stepped in to take the other vacant leg. They, together with Mags Jarvis, Jaqueline Rice and Jane Jackson were pleased to find their team had come third.

Freestyle weekend

Scorching hot temperatures made for some uncomfortable running for Okehampton Running Club members taking on another of the Lockdown Challenges at the weekend. This time the challenge was a “freestyle” one, where members were encouraged to go out and challenge themselves in any way they wished, be it running in a new place, a longer distance than normal, a faster time or even just getting out there and doing a run when without the virtual support of other club members they may have taken the easy option, particularly in such hot weather and not gone out at all.

The rules were the same as before, to do a run and post a photo of themselves in ORC kit along with evidence of the time and distance on the club’s Facebook page. All runs had to be done at a social distance if running with someone from another household.

Among the first to log their runs on Saturday morning were Hannah Woods and Geraldine Walter with a run on the Pegasus Way, while Ali Holiday and Cathy Carey took to the Ring Road on the moors. Cam Whitelaw doesn’t like running in the heat at all but he had challenged himself to run as many miles as he could. With an early start he achieved an impressive 18.6 miles, much longer than his usual runs and what turned out to be the longest distance of the challenge. Also out early to beat the heat was Robert Richards, making sure he got a run on the moors before collating all the other runs as they came in and enjoying a cooling dip in the river at the end of it.

As the day wore on some runners defied the heat to put in some good efforts, but Joe Lane chose the cooler conditions of other end of the day with a sunset run over Sourton Tors.

Knowing that Sunday was going to be another scorcher, there were some very early risers the next day, first of whom was Andy Vallance who started his run from the Dartmoor Inn at Lydford at 5.50 am. He ran the Dartmoor 600’s Challenge, running all the 5 Dartmoor Peaks over 600m high. Andy has completed this before but with the exceptionally dry conditions on the moor he managed to achieve his fastest time and reduce the usual 18miles to 17m by taking very direct lines between the peaks.

Jo and Phil Turner set their alarm for 5.00am to drive to Burrator Reservoir and run from there out to Princetown and back – a half marathon distance before it got hot or crowded.

Some, like Mags Jarvis set out to do a shortish run but ended up going further, 10 miles further in her case, while a few including Jaqueline Rice, wished they hadn’t challenged themselves quite so much on such a hot day but nevertheless completed what they’d set out to do though perhaps a little more slowly.

Just a week ago Chris Fullford-Brown was asking for someone to run with as he was lacking fitness and motivation but could only manage about 5-6miles. There was a terrific response from members saying they could accompany him and Sunday saw him join forces with Jessica Corcoran and Claire Sprague to each run nine miles.

The uptake was right across the board with ex-members taking part, some very new members including Jules Lewis-Tompson and two who will be joining the club as as soon as they have moved to Okehampton this week.

The camaraderie of fellow club mates continues to inspire members to enjoy their running even in these difficult times. Thanks as always to Rob Richards for setting it up and collating the results. In the end 81 runners took part running a total of 600 miles.

With no races being held anywhere at the moment, many runners have taken to entering virtual races, where they run set distances, sending in proof of their times from running apps such as Strava and are then given their results and placings online.The Run Exe series has transferred to these virtual races and this week there were some great results by ORCs. Super-fast Lady Vet60 Claudine Benstead was among the prizewinners with a time of 20.59 for her 5k, giving her an Age Graded percentage of 91%. Jane Richardson, an FV70, was also a prizewinner for her runs which are all done in her garden, having not left her home since the beginning of March. Mags Jarvis also got a special mention for her 5k that gave her an 80% Age Graded result.