Ivanhoe Runners celebrate a 'truly amazing' return of the Aldi Ashby 20 as race marks its 30th Anniversary 'Take Two'
By Graham Hill
29th Mar 2022 | Local Sport
Ian Allen of Spa Harriers romped to victory in Sunday's Aldi Ashby 20 event which attracted over 1,350 entries - and was the 30th Anniversary 'take 2' event.
Allen completed the challenging course in an amazing time of 1:44:29 after leading throughout,
His performance was only 12 seconds off the course record and nearly nine minutes ahead of the second placed runner Orlando Corea (Birchfield Harriers), in 1:53:08, and third placed Anthony Woodward (Notts AC) at 1:53:19.
The Aldi Ashby 20 - a 20 mile road race, 'organised by runners, for runners' - had its initial anniversary cancelled in 2020, and this was the first time since 2019 the actual event took place, due to obvious reasons.
Organised solely by Ivanhoe Runners, the Ashby 20, a BARR Gold event, first took place in 1989 with around 400 participants.
Pre-pandemic the event was attracting over 1,500 runners from throughout the UK, selling out in less than an hour.
Despite numbers being slightly down this year, it did not detract from the special occasion.
Pre-race you could sense the anticipation and excitement of the runners knowing that the 'actual' event was going to take place.
The weather, sunny but cool, provided ideal running conditions.
Unlike during the early years of the event, female participants now make up about 50 per cent of the whole field.
In fact, in the 2021 virtual event, females accounted for over 60 per cent of the field, a recognition of the inclusivity of the event.
During the early stages of the 2022 race, first place in the women's event was filled by Abigail Halcarz, representing the host club, Ivanhoe Runners.
By the end both Hannah Lucas (Bury AC) and Victoria Nealon (Rugby & Northampton AC) had sneaked past Abigail, finishing first and second respectively, at 2:03:32 - 52 seconds off the course record - and 2:11:22.Abigail then finished third in a respectable time of 2:12:30. Each finisher received the traditional Ashby 20 Hoodie, along with a commemorative 30th Anniversary medal, the very first time the Ashby 20 has issued a medal. Like previous years, the event relies on several sponsors. The main one being Aldi, along with volunteers from local organisations, the goodwill of the local community, and not to mention the many hours spent by volunteers within Ivanhoe Runners. Local organisations include the Explorer Scouts who professionally manned the start and finish area at the Bath Grounds, Ashby Spa WI who prepared the traditional cheese and tomato cobs which formed part of the goodie bags for our finishers and volunteers. Other items, such as McVitie's Jaffa Donuts and Aldi Titan bars were also included in the cotton bags supplied by the Ashby de la Zouch Town Council. Conkers ParkRun and The Ashby Castle Rotary Club assisted with our water stations and marshalling. Another integral aspect of the race, first aid, was covered by Leicestershire Search and Rescue. As a bonus to the event, thousands have been raised for many different charities over the years. This year the Ashby 20 supported two charities, these being Aldi charity partner Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT), and local Leicestershire children's charity, Wishes 4 Kids. Aldi had several employees raising money for TCT, whilst Wishes 4 Kids had a number of charity places. As recognition of the amazing work our NHS performs, several NHS employees were invited to take part in the 20 mile race. Richard Bebbington, an Ivanhoe Runner and the Race Director director said: "Organising our very first virtual event last year was very well received. "However, having the chance to host the real event again, after three years, in our home town is truly amazing. "The locals came out in their hundreds to support our athletes from throughout the UK. "We've had such fantastic feedback and we can't wait to put on next year's show, which takes place on Sunday, March 26."