Monday, 10 March 2014

Ashby 20, 9 March 2014

The Aldi Ashby 20 Road Race. Many use this race as a warm up to an April marathon. It can be used to answer many questions - can I do it the distance, what time can I hope for? what can I eat during the run? what's my race strategy for the marathon? and of course the all important question on the day - what colour is the hoody going to be this year?

This was a gorgeous, sunny day - the exact opposite to those long wet, wintry training runs that many had used as the groundwork to get here.

This is an out, two loops and then back again course. The start is in Ashby and there was plenty of parking at the second time of asking (first car park we'd intended to use was full by the time we'd arrived).

There were lots of familiar faces and running vests to be seen as we made the short walk to the start area with nice views of Ashby Castle along the way. We met up with club mates and we were soon making our way to the holding area. Here you pick you timing pen and walk to the start once those in front of you have moved on.

A few minutes walk and you're out onto a road with the start to your right and off you go.

From Ashby you head out towards Packington (please no peeing here). From Packington you take an anticlockwise loop of just under 9 miles through the villages of Swepstone, Heather, Normanton le Heath and then back in to Packington. You do this loop twice.

A rural course with lots of hills. There were several well-manned drink stations on the loop stocked with water then energy gels and sponges for the second loop. Ad-hoc music and goodies from random supporters were also most welcome on the route.

There are patches of the course that use some busy main roads, but there are volunteers in abundance to keep you safe and encouraged as you head round the course.

Once you reach Packington a third time you take a right turn back towards Ashby along the first mile of the route. This is quite tortuous - the glee of a downhill start comes back to bite you hard as the uphill slog takes its toll. At the top you head downwards and back to the grass grounds we started on. There's around 300m on grass and the final finish is 100m, sprint if you can, tarmac dash.

By mile 19 all those questions have been answered. Black if you don't know

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