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.