Yearly Archives: 2021

Epic Running

On a glorious sunny Saturday at the Escot Estate, Ottery St Mary, 10 runners from Okehampton Running Club (ORC) took part in the Exeter Epic Trail 10k which was organised by Tough Runner UK. This event was previously held at Haldon Forest, but this year due to Covid restrictions it was decided Escot would be more suitable.

It was the idea venue for this event, which was truly atmospheric and the runners and supporters’ spirits were lifted being in these beautiful surroundings. Over 800 runners took part and there were twice as many supporters, but the event was very well managed with socially distanced runners setting off in 5 waves, 2 at a time with a 4 second gap.

Once again, the ORC’s did themselves proud with Tom Priday coming first in the Junior male category with an impressive time of 0.38.54 giving him the position of 6th overall. His brother TJ came in close behind gaining 4th in this category.

Jo Page and Mike Westland both had great runs coming 2nd in their respective categories. All in all, everyone was delighted to be out running competitively again and the weather and surroundings made it a perfect day.

Then, on Saturday night, Tom Andrews and Hayden Bond headed to South Brent to run in the Wild Night Run. With options of 5- or 10-mile routes both runners decided to do the 5 mile option.

This event had a rolling start format with a two hour start window, so with it being a staggered start the results were decided on chip times.

The event was very well organised and well signed, and there was even cake at the end!

Hayden did brilliantly and finished the race in a time of 0.38.37 coming home in 1st place and Tom finished in a very good time of 0.57.23 in 8th place.

Great running everyone!



This weekend saw the latest challenge and possibly the last of the Okehampton Running Club (ORC) lockdown challenges.

Inspired by Joseph Lynch in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day, which is held every year on the 21st March, the challenge was to feature as many 21’s within a run as possible, whilst wearing odd socks, and as usual the ORC’s came up with some great ideas.

What a remarkable challenge this has been, special thanks to Joe for suggesting it. He totally embraced it, with his own personal challenge of running 7km on 3 days – giving him a total distance of 21km. His enthusiasm inspired many others to get out there and run in their ‘odd socks’.

The unanimous message from the nearly 70 members who completed the challenge was ‘thank you for the inspiration’. The lockdown challenges, of which this is the fifth of Lockdown 3, have encouraged people to get out running, and keep them motivated to do something different with just 1 running buddy or their family members.

Club members have shared experiences and stories as to why this was a special challenge for them. Rob Hicks got in early and did his run last weekend, running an impressive 21 miles on Dartmoor. He dedicated his run to Tim, who he had been joint best man with him at a friend’s wedding. He recalled the enlightenment Tim had given him around Down’s syndrome and living with it.

Another remarkable run was by Emily Curry. Emily was on the couch to 5k programme two years running and this weekend ran an amazing 21.21km in honour of her little boy Austin who has Down’s syndrome. She also completed her 21,000 step challenge for the association. Well done Emily.

Jack Edwards was running for his brother Bill, ‘the happiest person I know who brings me joy everyday’. He did an amazing 21.21mile run on Dartmoor, and as we all know Dartmoor miles are longer than regular miles, or maybe they just feel like it!

There were some inspired interpretations of the 21 theme; running for 21 mins and 21 seconds, running a fast 21min segment, leaving home at 21 minutes past the hour, interval training for 21secs, 21 Strava segments, 21 signs and partnerships of 10.5km and 10.5 miles making 21 in total. Additionally, there were several impressive solo runs of both 21km and 21miles. Alternatives were 21 bogs, 21 sheep in a field and 21 gates, along with 21 Tors completed by Paul Crease, the challenge certainly brought out the best in everyone. 

Hannah and Debs ran wearing their ‘21 Again’ badges and wearing odd socks. They ran 21km to Hangingstone Tor (which was a popular destination) and back via the ring road, the furthest they had run for ages and shared some photos of when they were both 21!

Christine’s challenge saw her running 2.1 miles out and back on the same route, however on the return she stopped to pick up rubbish. Unfortunately, there was an unbelievable amount, sadly she collected way more than 21 cans or bottles. She picked up 80 cans, 23 plastic bottles and 7 glass bottles, plus lots of wrappers.

Mel ran 5 miles, her longest run this year in a quest to find 21 alternative street names, she did amazingly well with Mead, Holt, Valley etc in addition to the usual Road and Street names. I am sure she knows far more of the road names in her neighbourhood now!

Other ORC’s made it a family affair, the Kings running 2.1miles with their children and Roz and Alison running around North Tawton Football pitch for 21 laps with their children – all great ideas for getting everyone involved.

All in all, a super Lockdown 3 challenge, which we hope will be the last one before we can start running as a club again. I am sure everyone will agree they have been great fun to participate in and thanks again to Joe for highlighting the importance of World Down Syndrome Day and to head Coach Rob Richards for organising the challenges.

For anyone wanting to know more, or donate, details of World Down Syndrome Day can be found here:…/world-downs…/

Jacqueline Shields


Fun and Frolics

This weekend saw over 60 runners from Okehampton Running Club (ORC) undertake the fourth challenge of this lockdown – Spring In Your Step. As per lockdown rules runners had to complete the challenge on their own, with members of their family, or with just 1 other running buddy.

What a change in the weather from the previous challenge in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore two weeks ago when we had icy, windy conditions. With the glorious weather this weekend it really did feel like spring had sprung.

Getting up bright and early was the motivation for some runners, with frost on the ground, but the sun shining and birds singing, it was the perfect start to the day. All the runners enjoyed the plethora of beautiful flowers and animals they saw on their routes and they took the time to take them all in and enjoy the scenery we are so lucky to have around us.

Lots of challenges were undertaken, Lucy Marrison and Ali Holliday ran from their homes in town to the top of the ring road, and they certainly had a spring in their step as they managed to obtain a coveted Strava Crown for their efforts – a great reward for their hard work!

A spring in their step, or a leap in their stride was captured in other ways, Ian Ripper had a spring in his step by jumping on his pogo stick for the challenge – I’m not sure he pogoed the whole way round his route though! Other members had fun jumping and leaping on Dartmoor. We were reminded though that it is very wet underfoot, with one runner losing her shoe in a bog.

Kathryn Volkelt-Igoe and Janet White had a great adventure, with their trusty four-legged companions on a circular route via Meldon Dam and Yes Tor with skylarks serenading them along the way. They had a super time as you can see from this action shot.

Some people had their own mini challenges to encourage them, marathon training, beating demons, running further than ever before, and improving on a route attempted in a previous lockdown challenge. Another significant achievement was from Jo Teixeira who also had 2 other challenges to complete in February, an inter-school 5k and the last mile for ‘Run 50 in February’ for Blood cancer, well done Joanne for completing all 3!

The weather was certainly on our side this weekend and it encouraged members to get out and enjoy the glorious countryside in our local area, I wonder what the next challenge will be….


Captain Tom Lockdown Challenge

[The title image is a photograph of the portrait of Capt Sir Tom Moore painted by Alex Chamberlin and currently hanging in the National Army Museum.]

Another weekend of dreadful weather greeted the runners taking part in the third challenge of this lockdown for Okehampton Running Club members. This one was in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore, and used the statistics of him walking the 25m round his garden 100 times which gave a total distance of 2.5k. Runners were therefore asked to run 2.5k run or more, but dedicating a 2.5k section of it to the memory of the national hero who so sadly died from Covid after raising £32million for the NHS. A target of 100 runners was set, being the link to his 100 laps in this tribute to him. This seemed like a small ask to people who normally run greater distances, but the bitter cold and wind on Saturday, which was replaced by a milder but equally strong wind and rain on Sunday meant venturing out at all was quite a challenge. Without a doubt many wouldn’t have pulled on their running shoes on such weekend if it hadn’t been for joining in with club mates to honour Captain Tom.

The bitterly cold conditions on Saturday weren’t very inviting but a total of 33 members made the effort to do their runs along with 7 non members. Runs varied  from specific 2.5k’s to some long runs but with a dedication of part of it to the challenge. The original idea for this challenge came from new member Mike Saywell and not only did he complete a 2.5k run but then went on to “write” the name Tom using what’s known as Strava art, where the lines of your run on the Strava app make a picture or word, resulting in a total of 12 miles run, and having passed the same man digging in his garden four times!

One runner had a special reason to take part in this tribute. Sadly Joe Lane’s grandfather had passed away on the same day as the Captain, so Joe dedicated his 2.5k not only to Sir Tom, but also to the memory of his grandfather John.

Karen Vallance and Abby Metherall chose to start their run from a point on the New Road where the “Thank you NHS” rainbow sign was still in place from the first lockdown, although somewhat battered having not stood up to the wind as well as the runners.

Unfortunately the conditions on Sunday were no more appealing with rain adding to the misery of the wind, but once again everyone rose to the challenge. Throughout the day there was a steady flow of runs being posted on the ORC Facebook page, mostly accompanied by pictures of wet and windswept runners. One member, Debs Crome had encouraged several of her friends who, although not members, had taken part in the original lockdown challenges, to join in once again, giving the numbers big boost.

By the late afternoon there began to be a feeling that it was going to take a big collective effort get the total number of runners up to the target of 100. It wasn’t quite a case of pulling people from their sick beds, but there was definitely a feeling that there was no excuse to not get out and make a contribution in support all those who had already made the effort. Head torches were put on, ORC juniors were encouraged to do their bit, and challenge organiser, Rob Richards was motivating everyone with updates on Facebook, the last one saying they were only 7 runners short of the target.

Gill Spinney had completed her tribute as part of a much longer run she had done, but now her husband Phil and their two children Kiera and Aiden put their shoes on and each did 2.5k making it just four to go. By now though the word was out and a sudden flurry of late posts saw the final total come in at an amazing 117!

Many had found the hardest part was to actually get out there and run in such uninviting weather, but the inspiration of the challenge and the camaraderie of the members, knowing that each contribution took the club nearer to the target, made the difference. Having had two challenges held in dreadful weather there is hope that the next one in a fortnight might have more favourable conditions.


Hamlets and Villages Lockdown Challenge

On a weekend of weather that did nothing to inspire anyone to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, Okehampton Running Club members took their inspiration to run from another source – the fortnightly ORC Lockdown Challenge. This one was titled Hamlets and Villages, with the aim to try and get people to run a route they don’t usually run, perhaps using roads they might avoid or footpaths they haven’t explored while trying to visit as many hamlets and villages as they could, all within the rules of running during this lockdown.

The response for this one was amazing considering the depressingly cold and wet weather with a total of 53 runners taking part. First to take it on were Kathryn Volkelt-Igoe and Janet White who, having the advantage of being retired did their run in the mild and sunny conditions that prevailed on Friday, enjoying 8 miles of chat together. The other 51 who took part did so in varying amounts of rain but this didn’t deter them from completing some long runs, the longest being by Rob Hicks and Jo Dymond. They devised a route that followed the Okehampton Parish boundary as much as they could, linking roads with footpaths where possible and following the line of the boundary where it went up onto the moors, over the highest point High Willhays, round the edge of East Okement farm and back down into the town via Ball Hill. This all amounted to a run of 24miles with over 3,000ft of elevation!

There were some other good length runs where even members who for various reasons haven’t been able to do much running recently, pushed themselves to put in the mile and complete a new route or include more villages. Two of last year’s couch to 5k group, Beverly Dennis and Natalie Uglow, really became inspired running 10k, their furthest distance ever. This was a great achievement for runners whose original beginners course was interrupted by Lockdown 2 and who have had little opportunity to run with the support of club sessions. Emily Currie, Kathryn Vile and Victoria Evison were also couch to 5k runners who took part in the challenge.

Even amongst the seasoned runners many found new routes or roads to explore. Jo Turner has always avoided running through the village of Corscombe because of the fearsome hill on the way out so she took it on for the sake of the challenge but says she won’t be repeating it too soon! The same hill was visited for the first time by Rob Richards and Wendy Walters in their run who seconded Jo’s opinion of it.

One thing they all had in common was that they came back with wet feet, even those running on the roads were faced with stretches of underwater tarmac that had to be waded through, while those who took footpaths across farmland or moors were glad of the chance to wash the mud off their shoes on these flooded sections. Everyone is hoping the weather is kinder for the next challenge in two weeks time.


Return of the Lockdown Challenges – Bingo!

With the return of Lockdown came the return of the Okehampton Running Club’s challenges designed to keep the members motivated and enjoy the feeling of still being connected and part of the club while not actually able to run in groups. Last weekend’s challenge was a running form of bingo, where runners were asked to photograph four different signs they came across, four different types of surface they ran on and four scenic pictures from their run. These were to be posted on the club’s Facebook page where everyone could enjoy seeing each others runs. Everyone followed the latest Covid rules, staying local to their homes and only running with one other socially distanced person.

Even those doing a short run managed to achieve a “Full House” bingo card with not much difficulty with tarmac and mud being the most popular surfaces to include. Living in such a beautiful part of the world made for plenty of lovely scenic photos and a couple of nice days meant they weren’t all taken through a mist of rain. Signs were also in plentiful supply even for those who’s runs were largely on the moors since members had to run up there from the town. It is quite surprising how we are surrounded by signs but don’t really notice how many there are until we are asked to photo them.

Over 50 runners took part, some of them having been struggling with a lack of motivation recently and finally finding a purpose to get out and run. There were also several juniors who took part and enjoyed the challenge with a parent. There will be another new challenge set for the weekend of the 30th/31st January with non members and past members welcome to join in.