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RunExe 5k & Endure24

In blistering heat last Tuesday evening 2 runners from Okehampton Running Club (ORC), Claudine Benstead and Jane Richardson tackled the RunExe 5k.

This is a great traffic free and pancake flat 5km run on footpaths and cycle tracks around Exwick Playing Fields and the River Exe Flood Relief, suitable for people chasing PB’s along with novice runners.

The RunExe 5k are a series of runs in June, July, August and September, with runners welcome to take part in individual races, or the series. The best results from 3 of the 4 races count, with medals for everyone completing 3 or more races.

Keeping up their winning streaks both Claudine and Jane came first in their age categories, with Claudine completing the race in 20:17 and Jane in 28:10 – hopefully it won’t be quite so hot for them in the August race!

Not content with doing a team 24 hour challenge recently, ORC Jo Page decided she would do a solo challenge, the Endure 24.

The event on the 23rd – 25th July 2021 was held at Temple Island Meadows, Henley on Thames. There were 108 solo female runners and 212 solo male runners, along with numerous teams entered in the race. The tag line was ‘Epic, brutal, relentless’ and I’m sure it was all of those things!

Solo runners started the race on Friday at midday, and they carried on running as many laps as they could in the 24 hours, finishing on Saturday at midday. They could stop for rests and food whenever they wished during this time.

Jo covered an amazing 161km, smashing her expectations by completing not just her first 50miler, 100k but also 100 mile race. Her furthest distance before was 32 miles, so she was over the moon with what she achieved, especially as she was nursing an injury. In her own words “I can’t quite believe that I have run 100 miles, I am completely broken now, but it was worth it!”

Amazing isn’t really a big enough accolade for this fantastic achievement! Well done Jo.

The club is not just about racing, with many members enjoying the comradery and support of group runs and the popular Dartmoor runs that are put on by the coaches. There will also be another Couch to 5k intake in September for new runners, more details will be on the website in due course.


Exeter 10k, Tavy Relays & Haytor Heller

In contrast to last, this week was a busy race calendar with races on weekday evenings as well as the weekend.

Three members ran City Runs 10K in Exeter where they were joined by World, European and Commonwealth medallist Jo Pavey. This is a race where speed and a good time for each individual is the ultimate goal and the presence of Jo Pavey probably put everyone in race mode. All three achieved age category positions, Claudine Benstead 1st with a time of 41.36, Ged Fitzgibbon 2nd with 51.40 and Jane Richardson 1st with 1.01.37.

On Wednesday Okehampton Running Club, with the phenomenal support of its members were able to enter 6 junior, 1 under 12 boys, 3 men’s and 2 ladies teams to the Tavistock relays. The teams of four have one runner on the fast and furious 1.1 mile circular course at a time with a hand over of a baton within a designated space. The six Juniors teams known as the Tigers, Panthers, Lions, Lionesses, Puma’s and Jaguars all embraced the concept of team work and gave their all. Under 12 boys, Arthur Hicks, Aiden Spinney, Rudy Simmons and Elliot Woods won 1st place. Rob Hicks, Rob Kelly, Joe Lane and Mark Lynch took 1st place for the  Veteran 40 men. The Veteran ladies, Lucinda Walsh, Wendy White, Anne Marie Lethbridge and Wendy Walters took 2nd place. This event is always a great evening and it was super to see it back on the calendar and so well supported by the club.

On Saturday sole ORC Christine Fritsch took on Teignbridge Trotters Haytor Heller in phenomenal heat and a time of 1.16. As its name suggests this is a race with gruelling climbs and descents over 6 miles. It was the 35th anniversary of this race.     


Cosdon Hill Race

It was a much quieter week for racing, but this didn’t stop members of Okehampton Running Club (ORC) getting out and about on their usual club runs. Lots of members just enjoy the companionship of group running without racing, there really is something for everyone. Fosters even found a message that had been left for them on Tuesday when they did their run from the town up to the moor!

There were also 2 of the popular moor runs last week, one being a recce, or ‘chance to trot up and down one of many routes to Cosdon Hill’ in preparation for the club hosted race on Sunday.

The Cosdon Hill Race is part of the Dartmoor Fell Race Series. It usually coincides with Belstone Fair, but this unfortunately has to be cancelled again this year.

The day dawned bright, with just some light drizzle, but by late morning it turned in to what can only be called a monsoon! Hopes for a race that was dry with any visibility at all was looking very unlikely. But, in true Dartmoor fashion, the rain did eventually stop and by the start of the race the sun had even come out.

The juniors set off first in a 2k race for the under 11’s or 3km for under 13’s. Great racing by Thomas to win the Under 11’s boys and Kelsey the Under 11 girls and to William and Neve in the Under 13’s. Any juniors over 13 were permitted to race in the adult event.

A great turnout of runners from the area took part in the main race, with Tim Lenton and Jo Meek both racing and hoping to keep their crowns. It was great to see Adam Holland in the line up ‘fresh’ from just having completed his 10 marathons in ten days challenge, well done Adam!

The runners pick their own route up and down the hill, the only stipulation being they must check in with the marshals at the top of Cosdon. There are no easy routes with bogs, gorse and long grass to contend with – many of the runners also chose to take the quicker river crossing option on the final home stretch rather than go to the bridge, even though the water was quite high after all the recent rain.

Congratulations to Samuel Kelly for coming home first in a time of 29:50, with Sam Priday the first ORC home in third place and Tim Lenton in fourth. Jo Meek retained her title as winning lady and Karen Vallance was the first ORC lady home. Well done everyone for taking part, and thanks to all the marshals and North Dartmoor Search and Rescue for their support. Full results are available here.

The next race hosted by ORC in the Summer Series is Sourton Tors Race on Wednesday 8 September.


A great week of racing!

Wow – What a great week of racing for Okehampton Running Club! Everyone enjoyed being out running, racing and just as importantly catching up with friends this week.

Exe 5k Summer Series

A great traffic free and pancake flat 5km run on footpaths and cycle tracks around Exwick Playing Fields and the River Exe Flood Relief. Starting off on Tuesday 22nd, 3 ORCs went where Paul Evison, Claudine Benstead and Jane Richardson who enjoyed a great evening. Claudine’s fab time of 19:43 earned her 1st in her age category, a new club record and the course record too! Jane was also 1st in her age category in a time of 28:27. Paul finished in 22:54. Congratulations to them all.

Summer Solstice Fell Run

Wednesday 23rd saw several ORCs run at Merrivale. A 6 mile course with some tough hills. Sam Priday won the U18 category and came 3rd overall, Rob Hicks came 1st for his age category, fantastic results all round. Paul Crease, Ian Ripper, Kate Wilson and Christine Fritsch. Well done to everyone.

The Burrator Horseshoe Fell Run

A 6 mile moorland run on Saturday 26th from Meavy and out over Dartmoor, Sheepstor Summit, Gutter Tor Summit, and the cooling Meavy River Ford.  

Joe Lane, Charlie Temperley, Christine Fritsch, Elodie Stott, Mervyn Rice, Mike Saywell, Tom Poland, Rob Hicks and Paul Crease all enjoyed the fell course in their ORC colours. ORCs won the club team prize for the 4 fastest men and women in a club.

8 Juniors represented ORC and ran really well and had a great time supporting each other. A great evening was had by all.

Smugglers Scuttler

This had three ORCs facing the wind, rain and hail on their run along the beautiful and rugged Cornish coastline of Cape Cornwall! Pirate costumes a plenty along the way too. Hilly and technical in places for the runners. Jo Page had a fab run and finished 1st Lady, Karen King and Jessie Guscott also ran this on Sunday 27th. Awesome running from the ORC ladies.

Exeter Community Trust Half Marathon

The route starts and finishes at Exeter’s Historic Quayside, flat route run along the footpath and cycle track of the River Exe and Exeter Canal. It took place on Sunday 27th. Claudine Benstead, Jane Richardson and Clayre Buccaneer Grice ran. Claudine ran a strong run with an amazing time of 1:28. Jane Richardson also enjoyed a good run with a new PB for Jane of 2:16:56. Fab runs from all.

Milton Keynes Marathon

Anne Binns travelled to the Milton Keynes marathon. Anne ran extremely well and achieved a new PB of 3:49:48 and came 2nd in her age category out of 31 runners. Fantastic result for Anne.


The Joy of Racing Again

The Pure Trail Tsunami series of races took place at the weekend. These races take in the most rugged, wild and remote sections of the North Devon and Cornish coastline and are not for the faint hearted. The shortest 7 mile race was tackled by Jo Page and Angus Farrelly with Jo taking first female and 4th overall and Angus achieving 4th place in his age category.

Gill Spinney took on the 16mile race option and came in 3rd place in her age category.
Not being satisfied with the shorter distances Rob Richards and Richard Pike took on the Tsunami Ultra, from Westwood Ho! to Bude, a mere 37.5 miles. Rob has some experiences of Ultra distance running but for Richard this was his first ultra. Hats off to him for a superb effort as this was undoubtedly one of the toughest trail running challenges to chose from. Both looked in remarkable shape at the finish.

Wild Running held their Green Lantern half marathon on Saturday, an evening race which follows the Green Circle clockwise around Exeter. Paul Evison finished in a time of 2 hrs 30 and despite taking a small detour to add on an extra mile he took first prize for his age category.

The consensus felt amongst club runners this weekend was the joy of being back out there again racing with fellow runners.

In the early hours of Monday 21st thirty bleary eyed runners left Belstone village for a Summer Solstice run. The route along the Taw Valley then up to Little Hound Tor stone circles was in time to watch the sunrise before returning to Belstone and home for breakfast and the day ahead. However the Dartmoor weather did not disappoint and the lack of sun did not thwart anyone’s enthusiasm This was the first of its kind, again an idea thought up be Head Coach Rob Richards. It was remarkable popular despite the silly hour!


Marilyn’s Meldon Madness

Last Wednesday evening 50 runners from Okehampton Running Club (ORC) went on a ‘fun’ run to recce the route of the weekends Marilyn’s Meldon Madness (MMM) race.

The race, on Saturday 12 June is the first of the Dartmoor Summer Series of Fell Races hosted by ORC. As places are limited, and competition keen from athletes from other local clubs, Head Coach Rob Richards thought a trial run for club members would be a great way to get back into group running.

The evening itself was not promising, with Dartmoor ‘mizzle’ hanging over the moor at Meldon, but great fun was had by all. The run covered 9km, staring at Meldon, going via Yes Tor, High Willhays (the highest point) before a welcome descent to Black Tor and down Homerton Hill to the finish back at Meldon reservoir.

It was wonderful to see old familiar faces along with several new faces. The club has actually increased its membership numbers over the lockdown period.

Fortunately, Saturday dawned bright with much better weather than the recce on Wednesday!

The race takes you to the highest point in the south of England with stunning views over the county. The 1,362ft ascent is tough enough to challenge any off-road runner but, at just 9km, it offers a rare opportunity for anyone to try their first fell race.

There are a number of compulsory checkpoints at which all runners MUST give their number to the marshalls. Due to difficulty of marking the course accurately, self-navigation is required by all runners.

The race was renamed in 2017 in memory of Marilyn Cooper and was this year sponsored by her son Peter, of Coopah Running. They kindly gave clothing as prizes for the winners and a generous donation to North Dartmoor Search and Rescue.

There was a great turnout with the maximum entry allowed of 50 runners competing in the senior race, on what turned out to be a bright and sunny day.

The first home was Adam Holland of Tavistock AC in a time of 38:54 and first lady was Jo Meek in 42:04.

The first ORC runner home was an under 18 runner, Sam Priday in a superb time of 41:10.

First ORC lady home and winner of the Marilyn Cooper trophy was Jo Page (having recovered from her 24hr challenge of last weekend!) in a time of 49:45.

The race also had a junior’s section with children under 11 competing in the 2km, under 13 in the 3km or under 15 in the 4km return races. Another great turn out from the juniors, with 20 runners in total. Well done to all of them.

The next of the ORC races in the Summer Series is the Cosdon Hill Race on Sunday 4 July.

Full race results here


Warrior Chimps – Conquer 24

This weekend saw 3 intrepid runners from Okehampton Running Club undertake the Conquer 24. The team of Sarah and Molly Marvin and Jo Page, supported by Karen King undertook this new and exciting 24 Hour Trail Race around the grounds of Powderham Castle.

You could run solo, or as a relay team of 2-8 runners on a 5 mile course around the stunning trails of Powderham. The race started at 12noon on Saturday, finishing at 12noon on Sunday, with one of the team always having to be on the course.

The team did incredibly well and won the award for the Female Small Team with some amazing times along the way. The fastest lap was 0:39:03 with the average lap time of 0:49:38.

As well as supporting the team Karen also did her own 5mile race, coming in at 4th place overall.

It was particularly hard, especially during the night, but the team kept their spirits up with lots of treats and messages from their Club mates.

Sarah summed it up by saying:

‘I’m broken and can barely walk. Molly is on a mission and out for 50 miles. Jo is bionic and
will probably stay for another 24 hours!’

Well done to you all!


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….