Aldi Ashby 20 makes history in 'virtual' event as 1200 runners take part

By Graham Hill

21st Mar 2021 | Local News

Over 1200 runners across the UK made history by completing the first ever virtual Aldi Ashby 20.

The annual 20-mile road race organised by Ivanhoe Runners would normally take place this time of the year around the streets of Ashby and local villages.

Many of the runners use it as part of their London Marathon training.

Sadly, like so many events, it was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19.

With the pandemic still influencing our lives, the virtual event was born in 2021.

Training throughout the winter months proved, for so many, extremely beneficial for their physical and mental health.

And everyone had their own story to tell, their own reason for taking on such a challenge, and their own obstacles to overcome.

With no cut-off times, participants organising their own route, using trails, public footpaths, and other similar avenues, a much wider audience were able to take part.

So much so that alongside the seasoned runners, some decided to walk the distance, others split it between walking and running, all setting out to meet their own goals.

Either way every participant tried their very best and got a great sense of achievement.

Like other years, the Ivanhoe Runners resident Gorilla put on his running shoes and his Ivanhoe vest.

Running the 20 miles on a treadmill, the gorilla also known as Ian, completed the run in 03:08:09.

This enabled the 'beat the gorilla' tradition to continue, despite being a virtual event.

Many did beat that time. If truth be known, to many, the time did not actually matter.

There was a bigger picture to the event, the fact that a bit of normality was realised, and people could forget about their worries for a short period of time, meant more than the run itself.

Many thousands have been raised for charities, including over £2,500 for Teenage Cancer Trust, the charity partner of Aldi who have sponsored the event for over 15 years.

Catherine Watkins, Ivanhoe Runner, took on the challenge to raise money for Chiltern Music Therapy, who work with people to help them improve their health and emotional wellbeing and develop skills in communication, behavioural issues, cognition, and motor skills.

Catherine, who ran her furthest distance, has raised over £750 for this worthy cause, running her first ever 20-mile.

Many other local charities, like every other year, have benefitted from this event, which is always rewarding no more so in a year when many have struggled to raise much needed funds.

As with other years, each participant received the famous Aldi Ashby 20 hoodie.

This year saw an extra addition to the design, a rainbow, as a little symbol to say thank you to our NHS staff, for their dedication and commitment in helping to keep us all safe.

Richard Bebbington, the Race Director, said: "It has been a truly amazing weekend, beyond our wildest dreams.

"Seeing all the positive comments on social media, the smiles, the lovely photos, virtual celebrations, and reading individual stories has been very inspiring, to say the least".


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