Ashby 20: it’s tough, but hugely enjoyable
by Kassia Gardner
This is probably the most fun I’ve had in a race! OK, I wasn’t actually racing it; it was more of a 20 mile run with friends while getting soaked in water fights at the feed stations (disclaimer: I knew a lot of people at the feed stations so I wasn’t having water fights with strangers).
I was running with two friends from South Derbyshire Road Runners, James and Lisa (they are Ironmen), and despite trying to spot them in the pens before the start we’d missed each other but somehow less than a mile in I heard them yell my name and we finally found each other.
The Ashby 20 has a fast downhill start and it’s easy to get carried away – which we did. Our planned pace was meant to be 9 min/mile pace but after two miles we were 90 seconds up. Oops! And then the hills came. Like the Oakley 20, it’s a challenging course and you do two 8.5-mile laps before heading back to the start/finish area. Unfortunately what comes down must go up, and the climb back to the start/finish area is tough but the marshals on this part of the course couldn’t have been more encouraging.
James, Lisa and I stayed together the whole way round and I was running well within myself and enjoying it. The fast downhill start came back to haunt Lisa in the last three miles, but James got a new 20 mile PB, and if we had stopped at 13.1 miles Lisa would have got a new half marathon PB.
A lot of time and effort goes into organising the Ashby 20 and it shows on race day. Start pens by finish time, closed roads, friendly local support, amazing marshals, a great atmosphere amongst runners and feed stations with cups of water, bottled water, gels, chocolate, and jelly babies.
The goody bag at the finish includes a banana, water, chocolate bar, granola bar and the famous Ashby 20 cheese and tomato cob. Plus you get a hoody, which this year was purple! Yay!
The best thing was all the support from the locals and marshals, and the amazing atmosphere at the feed stations. It’s the best 20 mile event I’ve ever done, and I’d highly recommend it for next year, but you’ll have to be quick when it opens as this year’s race sold out in 6 days.