TEN Okehampton Running Club members took part in the London Marathon this year, with three member completing it in three hours and one securing a start with the elite runners next year.
Several were seasoned marathoners, having secured ‘Good For Age’ places by running qualifying times at other marathons, while others had places through the club ballot or had charity entries, with only one member getting in through the official London ballot.
All of them had trained very hard, putting in really tough schedules since the beginning of the year, and all had set some sort of goal. Whether it was just to complete, or to run a certain time or to raise money for a chosen charity.
Okehampton members put in some tremendous performances, with three runners coming in under the hard to attain three hours.
Matt Pitson was the first home with a stunning run to finish in 2 hours 42 minutes 51 seconds. He not only set a new club record for the distance but also secured a start with the elite runners next year.
The previous holder of the club record, Andy Vallance, came in next, finishing in 2.55.10.
Rob Kelly fulfilled all the promise of his recent good form to finally attain a sub-3hr marathon and get a Good For Age qualifying time. Rob had achieved a GFA time previously, but soon after, Virgin London Marathon changed the standards needed and this meant his time would not count, so the whole club breathed a sigh of relief when he crossed the finish line in 2.58.24.
Seasoned London marathon veteran Roger Voaden was the next home with a time of 3.07.02.
Jeremy Tandy, running his first ever road marathon, finished in 3.14.12, which was 48 seconds inside his GFA time. His run was all the more impressive for the fact he’d run the tough Exmoor Marathon only two weeks before. Paul Carter was close behind Jeremy with a time of 3.15.32.
Anne Binns was the first lady ORC home with a time of 4.07.19, not her best marathon time but she was happy with it and the fact she had also raised £550 for Coeliac Uk, to give back something to a charity that has helped her since she was diagnosed with the illness 18 months ago.
It was Heidi Wills’ second marathon, and sadly the end of her training was marred by a family bereavement, but she decided to run anyway and not only completed in a great time of 4.10.44, a massive personal best, but she also raised an incredible £2,600 for Force Cancer charity.
Mike Baker had only just got back to running after a long injury lay-off when his name was drawn from the club ballot. At 49, this was his first marathon, and with his training going well Mike was hoping for a finish time of around 3.45.00. He was running well when he got clipped by another runner, injuring his achilles.
He struggled on, with the pain so bad he nearly pulled out with six miles to go, but did continue, finishing in 4.21.00.
Vicki Hayer had a charity place, running for Hospice UK, a charity to which she felt close having had family members being cared for by in hospices. This was her first marathon, and she really enjoyed the experience, she finished in 4.47.04 and said she was pleased to have raised £2,300 for charity.
Many miles away, another ORC was representing the club at the Madrid Marathon.
After completing and thoroughly enjoying the Barcelona marathon a few weeks ago, Mark Hawkins immediately entered the Madrid one and plunged straight back into more training.
Unfortunately, while we have had glorious sunshine here lately it has not been accompanied by the sort of heat Mark encountered on Sunday in Spain.
In temperatures in excess of 26 degrees C, Mark struggled in the last four miles, suffering badly with cramp from dehydration, but still completed in 3.59.16, considerably slower than in Barcelona, but with some consolation in the fact he had raised £750 for Devon Air Ambulance.
Another running club member, George Haskell, was taking part in the Plymouth Half marathon.
George had not set himself a goal, having been pleased with his recent personal best at Bideford, but on what would normally be regarded as a much tougher course, George ran nearly 5mins faster to finish in 1.30.48.