All posts by Mike Saywell

Storm Force 10

Two ORCS, Paul Carter and Robert Kelly made the trip to Cambourne for the Storm Force 10 road race. The undulating 10 Mile course around country lanes suited both runners well, Paul Carter came in well under his target time achieving 65.36. Robert also had a good race coming in at 59.47 which was the first time he has completed 10 miles in under an hour. Cracking efforts from both of them.

Tamar Lake Park Run

Anne Binns who has been out of action since September, first with a hip injury then Covid infection made a return to her local park Run at Tamar Lakes. Anne was hospitalised with breathing difficulties in December believed to be caused by an inflammatory response to Covid. The 29 minute 5K though overly exhausting for her hopefully marks the beginnings of a return to running fitness.


Westward Cross Country League Round 4

Sunday 9th January saw a large contingent of Okehampton Running Club (ORC) members setting off for the fourth instalment of the 2021/2022 Westward Cross Country league at Westward Ho!

Recent rain cleared to leave a bright and windy day at Northam Burrows. Driving down towards the course the sea looked ominous with larger than expected waves crashing, but luckily these were lost behind the bank of pebbles giving the course some protection from the westerly wind.

It is a flat course, generally not enjoyed by runners because of this and its exposed position. At any point it is possible to see the whole course and the laps are typically longer than other meetings which isn’t to everyone’s liking.

Although there are no hills there are frequent ditches to either jump or run through which is both energy sapping, and often precarious, leading to tumbles and falls.

First to run for the ORC’s was Kelsey Davies in the Under 11 girls race. We were all especially glad to see Kelsey as she was our sole female representative at the meeting. Kelsey appeared a little nervous at the start line, this being her first Westward league run of the season. Any nerves disappeared on hearing the starters whistle and she powered towards the leading girls. She ran her 2,200m lap with apparent ease and coped brilliantly with the course to finish 14th.

The Under 11 boys were up next. We had 5 runners in this race which included Ollie King and Stanley Hicks who had tackled the course before, and newcomers William Bussell, Ezekiel Evans, and Laurence Hicks. The most smiley runners of the day were definitely Zeik and Ollie and their attitude to their running sets an example to us all.

The finishing positions in this category were Stanley 17th, Zeik 25th, Laurence 40th, Will 41st and Ollie 42nd. Thanks to Lucy and Karen for taking great photos as always.

The Under 13 boys race was combined with the under 15 girls race, which gave Arthur Hicks a larger field to compete in. Arthur was a late entrant after his rugby match got cancelled the day before and he decided to come along just before his dad was leaving Okehampton!

The lack of preparation made for a relaxed run and Arthur enjoyed having the girls there too making it a busier course.

He finished his 3,800m run in 30th position having a thrilling last 200m race with another boy and a girl in which he came out on top. It was his most satisfying finish of the season.

Stan Wood ran in the Under 15 boys race wearing his ORC vest today, leaving the white and red of Exeter Harriers in his drawer! He ran 4,400m and finished 13th after a good run on a relatively empty course giving him with fewer people to chase.

Stan is moving towards a strong overall finish to the season with another consistent performance.

The mens course was 3 long laps equalling 8,565m and was combined with the Under 20 men. With 9 runners in this race, we were one of the highest represented clubs.

Chris Turner was first back finishing 25th in a performance he should be very pleased with.

It was Mike Davies first cross country race and he finished in 87th place, cheered on by his wife, children and dog, which we hope will become a regular addition!

The other finishers were Paul Crease 28th, Rob Kelly 36th, Andy Vallance 45th, Tom Poland 50th, Rob Hicks 53rd, Paul Carter 63rd, and Stuart Page 84th. On finishing they all said how enjoyable it is to run in a team event, and with this in mind we look forward to Redruth in a few weeks time.


An Introduction to ORC

Okehampton Running Club (ORC) was formed in February 2009, and we now have over 180 members of all ages and abilities who share one thing – a love of running!

The club meets on a Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday nights are steady runs, sometimes on road, through the woods and tracks, or on Dartmoor. There are 6 groups based on ability, from super speedy to beginners, so something for everyone.

Thursday nights are technical sessions, aiming to build up stamina and speed. We do sprints, and distance loops, as well as hill reps and more.

2021 has of course been a very different year. With group runs not initially permitted, Head Coach Rob Richards re instigated the lockdown challenges that were started in 2020 to keep members active and motivated.

These were very well received, and members rose to the challenges set and had great fun in doing so. One of the most memorable was in February in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore. It was based on the statistics of him walking the 25m round his garden 100 times. Runners were asked to run 2.5k or more along this theme and a target was set of 100 runners to take part.

This seemed like a small ask to people who normally run much 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.

There were lots of very ingenious interpretations of the theme and great fun was had by all. The original idea for this challenge came from a new member Mike Saywell, and not only did he complete a 2.5k run but went on to ‘write’ the name Tom using what’s known as Strava art. This resulted in him running a total of 12 miles and passing the same man digging in his garden four times!

By Sunday afternoon it didn’t look as though the target of 100 participants was going to be reached, but with posts on the club Facebook page keeping a running total word got out and a sudden flurry of late posts saw the final total come in at an amazing 117!

In March we saw the last challenge of lockdown which was inspired by Joseph Lynch in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day, which is held every year on the 21st of 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.

Joe totally embraced it; his own personal challenge was 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’ and the unanimous message from the nearly 70 members who completed the challenge was ‘thank you for the inspiration’.

By the end of March runners were able to take part in races again and many were excited to be back racing, especially for the Summer Series of Dartmoor Runs which are hosted by ORC. One had to be cancelled this year but the remaining 3 were able to take place;

Marilyn’s Meldon Madness in June in memory of past club member Marilyn Cooper which is a popular race from Meldon taking you to the highest point in the south of England.

The Cosdon Hill Race in July where runners take their own line on the 3 mile 300m climb run from Belstone Village to the beacon on top of Cosdon Hill, then back to the finish on the green.

Then the Sourton Tors race in September, a traditional fell run of 2.6 miles ascending 300m to Sourton Tors and looping back round the valley.

The club has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, with the inclusion of a Junior Athletics section which started in 2019. Young athletes from the age of 8 can join and take part in a varied mix of running, throwing, and jumping.

For people new to running or wanting to restart, the popular Couch to 5k takes place in September each year. The 10 weeks of training sees participants gradually build up speed and distance under the guidance of the coaches until they tackle the 5k time trial. This is a great introduction to running and to the club.

New members are welcome at any time and can come along to club events for a taster session or two to see how they get on. More details can be found here on the website, on our Facebook Group or by emailing

We look forward to welcoming you.


ORCs blow away the competition!

Two members ran the Exmouth 5 miler on Tuesday 7th. This evening race is organised by City Runs and is the third in their winter run series. The route is along the sea front in Exmouth comprising two ‘out and back’ laps. The tail end of storm Barra was still blowing which made for a strong head wind on the two ‘out’ laps but lovely ‘return’ legs being pushed along. The tide was pretty high and the sand was being whipped up by the strong wind giving the runners a sandy side to their faces. Kate Wilson won the FV55 in a time of 42.50 and Claudine Benstead won first female overall in 33.41. Enjoy your winners box of Celebration chocolates Claudine.

Claudine Benstead went on to run the Exeter City Run 5K in a time of 19:54 achieving a phenomenal 99% age graded fitness score.  

As part of a nostalgic trip back to his birthplace in Shropshire Paul Evison ran the 10K at Telford. It is an important event in the running calendar as it hosts the England 10K championships, the England Athletics Age group Masters qualifying event and Inter Area Match. The course makes use of the old Mineral Railway line which carried slag and bricks from Randlay. It runs close by the farm where Paul grew up. The event is run in three waves with the Elite men and fastest runners first followed by the Elite ladies and other fast runners and finally all other abilities. The conditions were perfect and Paul improved his best time by over a minute, finishing in 46.09.


From 5k to 50k

Exeter Parkrun 5k

Kate Wilson ran the Exeter 5km parkrun on Saturday. The course was a short section along the canal followed by four laps of a wet, muddy field, which was very soggy in places. This was Kate’s first parkrun and first ever 5km race. Kate was first in her category in a time of 27:11 – congratulations Kate.

Westward League Exeter feat. Devon Championship

It was a bright and sunny afternoon at the Exeter Arena that drew ORCs to compete in five of the races on the card. Our youngest runners were up first with regular Cross Country attendees Arthur Lane, William Bussell, Stanley Hicks and Laurence Hicks representing the club as a quartet for the third successive time. They enjoyed the course at it’s best and benefited from U11 boys and girls running together to produce strong runs and subsequent quick times. Each boy finished in their season’s best position and will look to build on that in the New Year.
Sophie Luxton broke the ORC ladies duck at this years races to compete in the U17 girls race. It was her first Westward League experience. A determined performance saw Sophie hold her own among seasoned athletes. She has a exciting off road season to come and we hope to see her at many future meetings.

Arthur Hicks was the sole U13 boy in ORC colours. In a small but fiercely competitive field Arthur started strongly to give himself a chance of Devon selection but faded in the second half of the race. A brave run which clearly hurt as Arthur finished in a time that should have placed him higher in the results.

The performances of the day possibly came in the U15 boys race. Elis Aldrich and Stan Woods raced brilliantly in a stacked field. Each boy ran strong controlled races and are becoming a fixture in the local XC scene.

The Senior Men took to the course in the final race. By now the route was more mud than grass and an attritional 8.9km lay before the large field. ORC boasted 8 entrants and were led home by the youngest, Sam Priday in under 32 minutes to finish 28th. Paul Crease bagged himself a category win as first Devon vet 45 home followed by Chris Turner and Andy Vallance. A gap separated the leading ORCs from the second wave led in by Rob Hicks, with Tom Poland a couple places behind. Shortly after came Joe Lane, book ending the day for his family after his eldest son Arthur ran in the U11 race, and then Paul Carter finished to deliver another strong team performance.

Cyprus Marathon

Jo Page ran a great race in the logicom Cyprus marathon on Sunday and came in second lady in a time of 3:24:25. The heavens opened as the runners crossed the start line and didn’t stop until they had finished. Thunder, lightning and biblical rain was not what Jo expected when she signed up for the marathon in Cyprus! Congratulations to Jo on a brilliant result.

Hurtwood 50k

Sunday also saw Ian Ripper run his first Ultra, the Hurtwood 50k. This ultra starts at Dorking and follows the Greensands way into the forested Surrey hills. The runners experienced muddy conditions and elevation in an Area of Outstanding natural beauty. Ian ran an impressive race to come home 1st Vet 60 – congratulations!


2 5ks & a Blister ;-)

It was a quieter weekend for racing, probably just as well given the weather on Saturday. However, Claudine Benstead braved the elements and tackled a very windy 5k Exmouth Park Run on Saturday. With sand blowing everywhere it was quite a challenge, but Claudine maintained her excellent form, coming home in a time of 20:38, second lady and fourth place overall.

Further afield Jo Page had better weather for her 5k run on Sunday, the Larnaca Salt Lake Fun Run, where they enjoyed a sunny 23 degrees. Fun Run Cyprus organise weekly 5k events for all ages. Jo, true to form, ran a great race in a time of 20:58.

Louise Lyle and Kate Wilson headed to Bicton on Sunday for the Bicton Blister. The race starts and finishes at the College and uses a short section of road before taking the sandy, stony, and muddy paths across the pebbled heaths of Bicton and Woodbury common, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

It’s a challenging course covering 10.5 miles, but fortunately the runners enjoyed lovely conditions for the run, with Louise coming home in 1:29:54 and Kate in 1:41:54. Superb running by them both.

However, it’s not all about racing. Okehampton Running Club (ORC) hold Tuesday night club runs in ability-based groups and Thursday night training sessions. This includes the juniors who continue go from strength to strength, with 18 of them tackling a hill pyramid training session last Thursday evening. They covered 6km in total with about 150m of elevation and even looked quite fresh at the end of it! Well done to them and thank you to the lovely helpers for keeping them motivated at the bottom of the hill to go back up again!

Both sessions start at the Pavilion in the Park, meeting at 6:15 for a 6:30pm start. Newcomers are most welcome, and you can give it a go to see if it’s for you with no commitment. See the club website for more information.


Couch to 5k Finale & Race Roundup

Despite the COVID pandemic Okehampton Running Club continue to encourage new membership and the well proven Couch to 5km programme run yearly by the club has concluded this weekend with 4 runners successfully running their 5km challenges after 9 weeks of intensive training. The course is a relatively flat, out and back 5km along the Granite way, turning on the viaduct at Meldon before returning back to the start line to finish. First over the line was Richard Gooding in a time of 34:03, hot on his heels and tracking him all the way was Alison Chambers 34:11, a short gap then Natalie Uglow and Lucy Evans charging to the finish line in 36:33 and 37:09. Another successful of amazing people taking up the challenge and succeeding. Thanks also to Robert Richards our Head Coach, Wendy Walters and Paul Evison for supporting the event.

Couch to 5K runners: Lucy Evans, Richard Gooding, Alison Chambers and Natalie Uglow

Far afield in Larnaca (Cyprus) Joanne Page sported ORC colours running Larnaca Half Marathon. Though a warm 19 degrees there was wind, rain and thunderstorms. Jo achieved a time of 1.38.27 and was 4th FV35. Jo dedicated her run to her grandfather Stan Preece who sadly passed away the night before. No doubt he was in her heart all the way. Stan was an avid runner into his 60s and a member of North Devon Road Runners. Rest in Peace Stan Preece.

Jo Page Larnaca Half Marathon

Father and daughter duo Paul and Victoria Evison went to Tavistock to run the Tavy 5K. Running conditions were good and Paul managed a time of 22.28 and Victoria 31.52.

Pure Trails Race the Light at Morwellham is 6.5 miles of  shadowy meandering  estuarine trails through the Tamar valley. Joe Lane came in before dark in 2nd place and Angus Farrelly was slightly slower and got back in the dark in a time of 1.09.04

Claudine Benstead completed Exmouth Park Run 5K in an incredible time of 20.15. Despite her senior years she was first female overall demonstrating you are never too old to be an athlete. A lesson for anyone considering coming to the club and something our new Couch to 5K achievers have learnt, ‘It is NEVER too late and you are NEVER too old’.      


Muddy Trainers

This weekend saw our runners leave the tarmac and compete in 3 different offroad runs….

The Green Lantern

Wild Running’s event, The Green Lantern, took place this Saturday. A nice mix of park trails, slippery mud, hills and tarmac for this mixed terrain Half Marathon around Exeter’s Green Circle. ORC members Jack Edwards and Lucy Gooding enjoyed this fab route.

Drogo 10

Several ORCs undertook this scenic route – Ellodi Stott, Geoff Hill, Rob Kelly, Jessie Guscott, Harriet Munday, Charlie Temperley and Mike Davies. After a pause of a year; THE DROGO 10 returned to much excitement from all runners! 10 miles of hilly, muddy cross-country terrain. Runners enjoyed stunning views of the Teign Valley and tackled the infamous Hunter’s Path Hill.

Westward League Cross Country (Newquay)

It was a still and mild grey day in Newquay for the second Westward League Cross Country fixture. The meeting was also the Cornish Championship so drew the best runners from our neighbours to the West.

The U13 kicked things off with two boys representing ORC. William Miles ran strongly on the first lap of their 3km course with Arthur Hicks just behind. Arthur’s experience with pacing paid off and he was able to move past William on the second lap but not able to advance his position further. Both boys are both still getting used to the increased distance now they have gone up an age category and will hopefully stay more in touch with the leaders at the next opportunity.

We had 4 ORC boys tackle the 1.6km U11 course. They changed positions amongst themselves but ran more or less as a 4 for the first lap. Within a strong field the ORCs had a race within a race. Stanley Hicks pulled away from his team mates but was unable to catch the boy in front. A strong last 300m saw Arthur Lane run past Will Bussell and Laurence Hicks won his battle to avoid finishing at the back of the field.

Finally the senior men’s race saw 7 ORCs on a very busy start line. An extra field was added to the course to increase the distance and the men ran 3 long laps and 2 smaller to total 8.7km. Over 100 places separated our first and last ORC which shows the size and strength of the field. Conditions were generally still good under foot leading to quick times which weren’t necessarily reflected in finishing positions with the strongest Cornish runners working hard to secure their spot in their county team. All the senior men agreed it was a good run and they had given a good account of themselves.

We look forward to taking a strong team to Devon for our own County Championships on 5th December. Hopefully some of our female runners will be available.

Final positions were:
U13 boys: Arthur Hicks 25th, William Miles 27th.
U11 boys: Stanley Hicks 20th, Arthur Lane 21st, William Bussell 22nd, Laurence Hicks 26th. Seniors: Male Sam Priday 32nd, Paul Crease 45th, Andy Vallance 75th, Rob Hicks 84th, Joe Lane 112th, Paul Carter 126th, Stuart Page 142nd


Bideford 10 Miler & Sidmouth 10k

A big and popular event on the race calendar this weekend was Bideford AC 10 Miler. The flat course gives the whippets an opportunity to chase personal best times and age category positions. The temperature on the day made for ideal running conditions and the results amongst club members did not disappoint. 

Hayden Bond went all out with a time in mind but his race did not go to plan. He achieved an amazing time of 1.01.00 so should not be disappointed. Geoff Hill was aiming for a 1hr race but managed 1.05.26 taking 2nd place MV45. Claudine Benstead ran 1.08.08 to scoop the 1st FV60. Mike Saywell 1.09.39 and Paul Evison 1.17.14 both achieved PB’s. Kate Wilson took 3rd in her FV55 category with 1.28.12. Rachael Holland ran 1.38.28. Neil Agnew ran 1.16.17 whilst Tracey Mills limped from mile 4 of the race with a recurring injury to finish in 1.42.14. Garry Letheren ran 1.13.34 and Andrew Thorne 1.21.15. All in all it was a good show of ORC performances.

A few of the ORC runners at Bideford 10 Mile

Mike Westland headed South to Sidmouth to run a 10K race. Feeling very much the ‘lonely goat’ he missed the camaraderie of his fellow ORC members but was pleased with his provisional result of 54.17.

Mike Westland at Sidmouth 10K


Tavy 7

There were not many races this weekend, but a large contingent from Okehampton Running Club (ORC) headed off on Sunday to take part in Tavistock AC’s long-standing 7-mile road race.

The race is on its third course since it was started in the late 1980s.  It is now held on Dartmoor, on an undulating, but fantastically scenic course.  It starts at Plaster Down on the western edge of Dartmoor and goes past Pew Tor and the hamlet of Sampford Spiney on its 7-mile route.

Continuing his brilliant season, first home for ORC, and seventh overall, was Hayden Bond in a time of 41:47.

Hayden was closely followed by Rob Kelly who had an amazing race, picking up not just the trophy for first male V40, but also achieving a new ORC V40 club record of 43:10.

He said it was ‘a great race in a stunning setting – highly recommended if you’ve never done it!

Steve Sincock also did the double, coming home as first MV60 with a new MV60 club record in 46:26.

Not to be outdone, Paul Evison took the trophy for first MV65 in 56:18 – what a result for the ORC men! Well done to them and to Ged Fitzgibbon and Tom Andrew who also completed the race.

Also, well done to Kathleen Sincock who was running for South West RR. She completed the course in an excellent time of 56:38, coming in fourth in her age category.