THE spring marathon season kicked off last weekend with Okehampton Running Club members keen to put their winter training to the test.

Nearest home was the Taunton Marathon, held over a slightly changed course this year, keeping the runners off the busy A38 and sticking to more rural roads. Here, marathon training partners Roger Voaden and Paul Carter had excellent runs to finish in identical times of 3 hours 03 minutes 48 seconds to come joint 14th and share the male veteran 50 age category prize. This was just a warm-up for the duo who are both running the London Marathon in three weeks time.

Two couples made up the four Okehampton representatives in the half marathon, in which the runners do one lap of the two lap marathon course.

First ORC home was Jean Paul Quertier in a good time of 1.38.31, followed by Jason Ewing in 1.45.20. The two ladies, Keri Quertier and Becca Ewing, ran together and finished in 1.50.37, finding the hot sunshine a bit too much to run their best times.

The Asics Greater Manchester Marathon was the venue for ORC Graham Bryant, who was running this distance for only the second time. This renowned superfast course, where many athletes get their PB’s, finishes at Emirates Old Trafford, the home of Lancashire Cricket Club and is well supported all the way round. Graham ran well and was pleased with his run but just missed beating his previous time by 17 seconds, finishing in 3.11.14.

The Exe to Axe is a tough 22 mile point to point race along the South West Coast Path, starting in Exmouth and finishing in Seaton. Although it does not quite have the Kudos of the renowned Grizzly, perhaps because it lacks the mud and beach sections, this is a longer and tougher race. with more than 4,000 feet of ascent.

Two ORCs, Rob Hicks and Christine Fritsch, took this challenge on, both having completed the Grizzly three weeks ago. On a glorious sunny day the coastal scenery was stunning and both runners enjoyed the race despite the steep gradients and many sets of steps.

Rob had a much better run than at the Grizzly and finished in an impressive 3.17.13 with Christine, who had never run this distance before, coming home in 5.17.20.