THE first meeting of the Westward League Cross-Country Cham-pionships took place at Stover School on Sunday and Okehampton Running Club had a full team for both the men’s and the ladies’ races.

Following non-stop rain the previous day it was hard to believe how dry the course was and the glorious sunshine made it feel unseasonal for one of these fixtures, more typically held under grey winter skies. In fact the heat made this tough course even harder than usual, especially for the men running the longer course in the hottest part of the day.

The ladies’ race was unfortunately marred by an uncharacteristic marshalling error. Five ORC ladies ran but due to confusion over how many loops of parts of the course runners had completed, they all ended up running different distances.

First back was Monica Richards who, through no fault of her own, had not completed the full distance, followed by Sarah Marvin who, it turned out later had run the correct course, although this was well over the normal 5k for the ladies. Jane Jackson was next, running a full 5k and longer course than Monica but not the actual course, and then Gill Spinney who like Sarah had been sent in the correct direction. Jo Bradford had to retire after twisting her knee. It is not clear at this point what will be done with these results going forward to the overall league rankings.

Okehampton’s only representative in the under 15 girls category, Issy Edworthy did not fare any better in her race, where, despite having a straightforward two-lap course, the runners were turned in to the finish after just one lap. This undoubtedly affected the results, as despite the fact they had all run the same distance, those with greater endurance who had paced their race for two laps would not have been so well placed.

At least the men’s race went better, although the organisers had changed their course to avoid more mix-ups, but it seemed to work and they all completed nearly a full 10k. Team captain Paul Crease, who is really on-form at present, was the first home for the club with Andy Vallance just nine places behind. Another on-form runner, Rob Kelly was next, overtaking club-mate Rob Hicks whose 100 mile Ultra two weeks ago did not stop him putting in a good run round this ‘sprint’ of a course, These four were all well placed giving the club a good start to the overall league positions.

Good runs were put in by the others too with Chris Tuner next and Paul Carter immediately behind him, followed by Graham Bryant, Geoff Hill, then Phil Read, who was trying out the cross-country for the first time, as was Andy Humberstone who came in behind him.

Just one other Okehampton runner was racing on Sunday. Catherine Walker went down to Plymouth to take part in the popular Plymouth 10k. This is one of the largest 10ks in the South West, where runners do an out-and-back course starting in Princess Way. With an early start the runners were not affected by the heat felt by those running at Stover.

Catherine had only run her first 10k two weeks before at the tough Killerton course and found the flatter road race much more to her liking. She ran very well to finish in 1.03.56 and set a huge personal best.