Category Archives: News

21 AGAIN – WOW, WHAT A CHALLENGE!

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: https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/…/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.

  

Okehampton RC successes in City Runs Virtual Lockdown 2 Challenge

City Runs Exeter put on a virtual running challenge during the recent Lockdown 2, with the aim of keeping the running community motivated. The challenge was for athletes to run any of the distances below between 5th November and 2nd December:

1Mile – 2Mile – 5km – 5Mile – 10km – 10Mile – 13.1Mile – 26.2Mile

The runners submitted their times and the organisers then produced a set of results ranked on the age graded score for the distance run in each “race”. In all there were 118 entries, including a total of 6 by three members of Okehampton RC.

The Prize Winners were both from Okehampton RC.

1st Female: Claudine Benstead – with 3 runs all gaining 90%+ age graded, which is outstanding. She ran 5k in 20:13, 5 miles in 33:44 and 10 miles in 1:10:10.

1st Male: Geoff Hill – with an excellent 89% age grading for his 2 mile run in 9:52. Many congratulations to both Claudine and Geoff.

Mags Jarvis entered 2 runs, a half marathon which she ran in 1:59:22 (77% age grading) and a 5k in 25:35. She came out near the top of the leaderboard in 13th place with her 5k run for which she gained 80% age grading. Mags has Parkinson’s Disease, which is an incurable neurological condition. One of the main symptoms is slowness of movement. She finds that the motivation she gains from the support of her fellow club members and events such as these are vital to keep her positive and actually slows down the progression of her symptoms.

  

Lockdown Bridge Challenge

The fortnightly Okehampton Running Club Challenge this weekend was just one word – “bridges”. This was left open to the members to interpret in whatever way they chose, all complying with the Lockdown rules of only running with one other socially distanced runner.

It kicked off on Saturday with runners clocking up more and more bridges and those who included Simmons Park in their run were spoilt for choice of bridges. There were some who’s tally were well into the 20’s but these were dwarfed by Karen King and Jo Page’s run where they clocked a staggering 54 bridges in a 16mile run around Okehampton and parts of the moors.

Robert Richards, who set the challenge, had planned his run around some of the beautiful and ancient clapper bridges on the moors. Running with Wendy Walters, they claimed 5 clapper bridges in their 12mile run, but there was one place where the absence of a bridge was keenly felt by Wendy who ended up thigh deep in boggy water!

Also out on the moors was Joe Lane who grabbed the chance of a moor run with a simple solution to the challenge, running from Bridestowe to Two Bridges.

Joanne Baker Teixeira set herself the task of finding the biggest and smallest bridges in the area, covering 8 miles to establish Meldon Viaduct is the biggest and a tiny bridge on the Golf Course is the smallest.

Sunday produced some different takes on the bridges theme. Ian Ripper burned his bridges with an extra pint Saturday night and struggling to get out for a run Sunday! Andy Vallance and Paul Crease decided on a “no bridges” run on the moors, trying to cross the rivers by fords marked on the OS25 map. A great 19mile run resulted in 12 named fords crossed and very wet feet. Jane Jackson only crossed one bridge, at Sheepwash, but did so 60 times, doing it once in both directions for every year she has lived in the village.

Some more traditional bridge-bagging runs were undertaken with Jackie Dawes running with Kate Wilson. This time last year they were both running across the Ponte Vecchio during the Florence Marathon, but got together to run 10miles taking in 28 bridges in the lanes around South Zeal, Sticklepath and South Tawton.

Coach Sarah Bell did 3 separate runs to accompany three “couch to 5k” runners on what is quite a hard stage of their course, having to do a continuous 25min run. Congratulations to Natalie Uglow, Emily Currie, Nick Marvin, Helen Picarella, Charlotte Williams, Kathryn Vile and Beverley Dennis for getting out to take part and to Sarah for her dedicated support.

Some other runners are struggling with motivation, time or coming back from Injury without the club sessions, and Jodie Monnox, Sophie Fletcher and Kerry Morashti found the biggest bridge to cross was actually getting out and running.

Another great challenge was enjoyed by all who took part and one thing became obvious during the course of the challenge – there are more bridges than anyone imagined in and around Okehampton!

  

Feel the Burn lockdown 2.0 challenge

The implementation of the second lockdown put a stop to Okehampton Running Club’s group runs, all races and the newly set-up Couch to 5k programme. Not to be discouraged at the prospect of returning to running with little motivation, Robert Richards once more set up the fortnightly ORC challenges, giving runners a sense of achievement for completing a run and sharing it on the club’s Facebook page. This kicked off with a challenge to “feel the burn” during a run over the weekend, either by putting a real effort in for the last km of the run, or pushing hard on an uphill section.

Once again ORCs rose to the challenge, with runners either going out on their own or with one socially distanced other runner. First to log in was Bernadette Blackman with a 6.8m run on the moors where her last km was faster despite an uphill finish.

Several headed out to the moors where unfortunately they were enveloped in a thick mist on Saturday, but Rob Hicks managed to put in a fast last km on a tour of the ring road putting him in the lead for the fastest male, only to be overtaken soon after by Joe Lane. He’d narrowly missed a sub 20min 5k on a previous challenge but by running the same route the other way round he achieved his goal in 19.46 with his last km the fastest.

It wasn’t all about speed though, just about putting some effort in to feel the burn in the legs, something Beki Simmons and Hannah Woods felt when they had to divert their route which made their last and fastest km uphill which certainly made their legs burn.

It was very encouraging to see how some of the Couch to 5k runners embraced the challenge incorporating the “feel the burn” into their programme for this week. It’s particularly hard for them as they have only just started running and the support of others is really needed to keep their motivation up so a big well done to Bev Dennis, Charlotte Williams, Natalie Uglow, Vicky Evison, Emily Curry and Jayne Pleace.

Sunday saw  much better day for those who did their challenge on the moors where Phil Turner was the first up there enjoying the beautiful early morning sun and clocking a fast last km albeit a bit downhill.

Joseph Lynch loves these challenges and took part on both days and Carron Holmes also went out for a second try on Sunday. Having narrowly failed to make her last km the fastest on Saturday, she made sure she really made her legs burn this time!

The overall fastest 5k of the challenge was clocked by Robert Kelly on the Granite Way, making it hard for himself by running 20k with each km progressively faster than the previous one, his last being an impressive 3.36.

Anne Binns put in the fastest km for a lady, clocking a 4.11 last km while running with her husband John.

It wasn’t a race to clock the fastest time though. The real aim of this challenge was just to get people out there running and enjoying seeing how fellow club mates did too and in this it was very successful. 76 club runners took part and 5 non-club runners with 56 ladies, 20 men and 4 juniors. All are looking forward to the next challenge.

Twilight Halloween

On Thursday night three Okehampton Running Club members made their way to Scorrier House  in Cornwall for the Purple Gecko Halloween Twilight Run. This was a well organised event that followed all the Covid rules and regulations, while still putting on a fantastically fun and entertaining event, with plenty of mud, hills and Zombies included!

With all three wearing fancy dress, the first off was Keeley Philips in the 5k event, setting off into the darkness at 5.30pm to run her first night race. Taking it steady to enjoy the new experience, Keeley finished in 30.37 having avoided being eaten by Zombies!

 

The 10k event set off at 7pm, with Erin McDaid having a brilliant run to come home in 1st place in a time of 37.00mins, nine minutes ahead of the second placed runner. Jo Page also had a great race, her time of 47.34 securing her 1st Lady and coming 4th overall.

Run to the Sea

Jane Jackson and Robert Richards took part in the inaugural Run to the Sea Ultra Marathon takes place on Saturday.

The 50km multi terrain route is from Ringwood to Hengistbury Head; absolutely stunning and extremely flat! The first 30km uses the Castleman Trail, a disused railway path,  through lush forestry and tranquil woodlands, to reach Holes Bay and Poole Harbour. Followed by the amazing views over Brownsea Island and Sandbanks before you join the legendary coastal promenade for the final 15km, through Bournemouth, to the most beautiful finish of them all, at Hengistbury Head.

Jane said that although it was a bit too much tarmac on the route for her taste, she surprised herself by enjoying the experience.  As she is still recovering from injury she went with a plan to run sections with brief walking interludes, seeing her finish second lady in her age group in 6h26m.  Robert said that despite it being flat, and without his usual preferences for mud, wind and rain he still enjoyed doing it, and completed in 5h48m.