With further easing of Lockdown restrictions Okehampton Running Club held what it hopes will be its last weekend challenge. England Athletics has updated its guidance for running clubs to restart some club sessions with precautions in place for the safety of runners and the general public and while numbers of runners will be restricted, the club hopes that there won’t be the need for these virtual club challenges. This last challenge was to test runners fitness coming out of lockdown by running a 5k to see if they have improved during this period.
Some club members have actually taken advantage of having more time to run whilst on furlough while others have struggled with continuing to work, possibly from home, and having children at home too giving them less time to get out and run. Others found it difficult to stay motivated without the regular club sessions or the company of friends in the early days and enjoyed the virtual support of others during the challenges.
Amazingly the club has actually had several new members join despite lockdown, enjoying the opportunity to familiarise themselves with present members through the Facebook posts and feeling part of the club with the challenges.
It turned out not to be the best weather for running fast times with some torrential rain and hot humid periods in between, but this didn’t stop people having a go at the challenge. There was a broad spectrum of routes, downhill, flat, or quite hilly, but it didn’t really matter, with the taking part more important than the result. Having said that, there were some great times recorded with unofficial PB’s from Robert Richards, Ian Ripper, Charlotte Lynch and Jodie Monnox, while new members Adam Bussell and Jules Lewis-Thompson did their first recorded 5k’s so now have a time to beat in future. It was also the first timed 5k run on tarmac for off-road runner Joe Lane who found it harder than expected and has a new respect for the road runners now. For Duncan Nicol it was the first land-based challenge he has been able to take part in, having joined in the previous ones while onboard a cargo ship in the Pacific. New member Eirin Mc Daid was one of the runners to get a drenching when he did his 5k round Burrator Reservoir, but he still knocked 5secs off his previous best round that route.
Above all, this was about people getting out there and enjoying taking part, no matter what the result. These challenges have certainly inspired ORCs to keep going while the club was unable to operate during the worst of this pandemic. Hopefully we will really get back to normal sometime, running together as before, but for now there is the prospect of a nearer normal experience when limited sessions start again. As before, a big thank you to Robert Richards for coming up with the ideas and getting people motivated.
Thanks to Jane for the reporting.