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An Introduction to ORC

Okehampton Running Club (ORC) was formed in February 2009, and we now have over 180 members of all ages and abilities who share one thing – a love of running!

The club meets on a Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday nights are steady runs, sometimes on road, through the woods and tracks, or on Dartmoor. There are 6 groups based on ability, from super speedy to beginners, so something for everyone.

Thursday nights are technical sessions, aiming to build up stamina and speed. We do sprints, and distance loops, as well as hill reps and more.

2021 has of course been a very different year. With group runs not initially permitted, Head Coach Rob Richards re instigated the lockdown challenges that were started in 2020 to keep members active and motivated.

These were very well received, and members rose to the challenges set and had great fun in doing so. One of the most memorable was in February in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore. It was based on the statistics of him walking the 25m round his garden 100 times. Runners were asked to run 2.5k or more along this theme and a target was set of 100 runners to take part.

This seemed like a small ask to people who normally run much greater distances, but the bitter cold and wind on Saturday, which was replaced by a milder but equally strong wind and rain on Sunday meant venturing out at all was quite a challenge.

There were lots of very ingenious interpretations of the theme and great fun was had by all. The original idea for this challenge came from a new member Mike Saywell, and not only did he complete a 2.5k run but went on to ‘write’ the name Tom using what’s known as Strava art. This resulted in him running a total of 12 miles and passing the same man digging in his garden four times!

By Sunday afternoon it didn’t look as though the target of 100 participants was going to be reached, but with posts on the club Facebook page keeping a running total word got out and a sudden flurry of late posts saw the final total come in at an amazing 117!

In March we saw the last challenge of lockdown which was inspired by Joseph Lynch in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day, which is held every year on the 21st of 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.

Joe totally embraced it; his own personal challenge was 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’ and the unanimous message from the nearly 70 members who completed the challenge was ‘thank you for the inspiration’.

By the end of March runners were able to take part in races again and many were excited to be back racing, especially for the Summer Series of Dartmoor Runs which are hosted by ORC. One had to be cancelled this year but the remaining 3 were able to take place;

Marilyn’s Meldon Madness in June in memory of past club member Marilyn Cooper which is a popular race from Meldon taking you to the highest point in the south of England.

The Cosdon Hill Race in July where runners take their own line on the 3 mile 300m climb run from Belstone Village to the beacon on top of Cosdon Hill, then back to the finish on the green.

Then the Sourton Tors race in September, a traditional fell run of 2.6 miles ascending 300m to Sourton Tors and looping back round the valley.

The club has gone from strength to strength over the past few years, with the inclusion of a Junior Athletics section which started in 2019. Young athletes from the age of 8 can join and take part in a varied mix of running, throwing, and jumping.

For people new to running or wanting to restart, the popular Couch to 5k takes place in September each year. The 10 weeks of training sees participants gradually build up speed and distance under the guidance of the coaches until they tackle the 5k time trial. This is a great introduction to running and to the club.

New members are welcome at any time and can come along to club events for a taster session or two to see how they get on. More details can be found here on the website, on our Facebook Group or by emailing

We look forward to welcoming you.