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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