Mike Scotney reports: This was the 22nd running of the Ashby 20, an event that prides itself to be the premier pre London-marathon training race, with a BARR gold rating (whatever this may be).
The marketing information is impressive but what they fail to tell you is that this race HURTS! A training running almost invariably turns into a race, as with a 1000 competitor limit there are always enough people to compete with, and the topography is unlenting, very little flat and a series of long hills.
Anyway, after a lot of earlier rain there was much call for optimism as we all traipsed down from Ashby de la Zouch leisure centre, to the field at the start, as the rain dissipated and it was a typical cloudy, grey but reasonably warm March morning. Great running conditions and even a splash of sunshine throughout the race.
I met up with Dave Harte and Daniel Wilson at the start, and at 10 am prompt, we were off. It’s a two lap course once we headed down hill to Packington taking in the pretty rural villages of Swepstone, Heather and Normanton le Heath, each connected by a series of inclines.
Dave was aiming for a quicker time, but Dan and I seemed to be aiming for a similar goal, so we stuck together for the run, which which of great use in knocking out the miles. The atmosphere was great, very supportive marshalling and regular well stocked drink stations (water, gels, jelly babies, sunday roasts (well, maybe not!)), and we got into a good rhythm on the first circuit, completing 10 miles in about 1.14, at the intended 7.30 min/mile pace.
In making our way up the field we picked up another club runner who was on a similar pace schedule and the three of us spent the remainder of the race pushing each other, trading places and counting down (or should I say up?) those last few miles. I was feeling strong up to about 16 miles, but thereafter it was a real struggle, but somehow found something in the last mile to make a dash for the finish, although a lot of people were also finding it tough.
I managed to knock about 4 minutes off my previous best for 20 miles, and although the results aren’t yet out, I was delighted with 2.29 with Daniel finishing at around the same time. After we met up up with Terry D, who also had an excellent run, and a PB, I believe.
Afterwards, we received great burgundy hoodies and a sandwich bag. All very commendable but I wish they threw in something for the blisters …..
Dave Harte adds: This was my first competitive run since the (very-slow-for-me) Birmingham Half last year and after quite a long period of having a niggly injury. Mike Scotney warned me that this this route was a bit like a painting by Escher, you always seemed to be going uphill. I tired in the last 5 miles but kept to my target of sub 7 minutes a mile and came close to my previous best at this distance. Bodes wel for London. The race is extremely well-organised and attracts a good crowd of mainly club runners. Recommended. My stats, maps, splits for the race here. And just to be really sad, my entire London Marathon training spreadsheet here.
90th 02:18:41 Dave Harte
188th 02:29:52 Mike Scotney
192th 02:29:58 Daniel Wilson
274th 02:37:44 Terry Doherty
710th 03:17:33 Helen Lawrence
711th 03:17:34 Philomena Williamson