Oaks Blokes is a social-focused running group, whose motto in normal times is ‘Running and coffee, mostly‘, which pretty much sums up its aims. The group, or club, has been in existence for over 10 years now, and in that time has encouraged dozens of current, former and would-be runners to participate regularly.
Their main activities include regular runs on Saturdays and Wednesdays, plus a ‘Lazy Thursday’ morning run (normally followed by breakfast). But activities don’t stop there – being a very sociable group, side trips have been arranged over the years ranging from running breaks abroad to skiing, cycling, swimming and cricket, as well as regular social events back home.
Running in a group is very motivating, but of course that has not been possible during the three lockdowns the South East has experienced since last March. So Oaks Blokes initiated a series of light hearted challenges which can be completed by individuals running alone or in pairs. Progress is shared via WhatsApp groups, with some fun graphics to keep the competitive spirit high. Some of the challenges have been as individuals, others have been in virtual teams, which is a huge motivator.
It all started with the Marathon Challenge, where team members had to contribute to the overall mileage to make up the marathon distance. There were four teams of 10 people, aiming for each team to complete the marathon distance within one week. The incentive to get out and run for your team was so strong that by the time that challenge finished the teams had run a combined total of 26 virtual marathons, a little short of 700 miles!
Further challenges followed, in a similar vein. One was elevation-gain focused, requiring the teams to gain a height equivalent to that of Mount Everest (8,848 metres). Another team-based challenge was to (virtually) run the length of the Kent Coast from Dartford to Camber Sands, a little over 200 miles.
The fourth challenge was aimed at individuals, to record their fastest time over a measured mile in Knole Park. An Oaks Blokes spokesperson said: “The quickest time was 5 mins 23 secs, the slowest around 13 mins – but what was so encouraging was the mutual support, such that anyone who improved their time during the week was acclaimed as highly for a reduction from 11 minutes to 10 mins 30 secs, as for one from 7 mins to 6 mins 50 secs. Which really is an indication of the ethos of the club”.
“During this latest lockdown we have had two ‘treasure hunt’ type challenges where runners are given a set of coordinates with clues planted at each and have to plot and run the shortest route to find them all. The latest and current challenge is an individual distance one – a 40km route has been plotted around Sevenoaks which individuals are challenged to complete, dividing it into as many sections/runs as they like.”
• If you have found motivation an issue during the current constraints, get in touch with the team at www.oaksblokes.co.uk, and join what has to be the friendliest group of runners of all standards in the Sevenoaks district.