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!