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The virtual Ashby 20

Netty Stevens writes:

At the start of the year we had no idea when races would be allowed to go ahead, so not much to look forward to running wise. Then I saw that the Ashby 20 were having a virtual event race this year. Having already done the race twice I thought I might have a crack at the virtual one, even though my training had be mainly geared to 10kms for most of last year. So I had a word with two of my guides, Bob and Paul to see what they thought – and they said “go for it”

After all my 10k training I had plenty of speed but what I was lacking was stamina. So Bob came up with the following 6 week plan of long runs to incorporate into my training – 16k, 20k, 24k, 27k, 21k, 16k. Bob guided me out on the open road on the long runs because concentrating on the treadmill for a long time can be mentally draining. The long runs were supplemented with 4 days on my NoblePro treadmill with shorter runs – a mixture of easy runs between 6k and 10k and efforts.

The virtual race could be tackled any time between 19 March to 21 March so we looked at the weather and chose the best day. Bob had come up with a suitable course that was safe to guide, virtually traffic free, not flat as we need those hills to replicate the real Ashby 20, hopefully hardly any potholes and of course was Covid secure. In a real race there would be drink stations for we came up with the following plan. Bob would guide me for the first 10 miles while Paul supported us on a bike carrying water and gels etc. and then at 10 miles they would swap roles.

Bob my guide runner


We decided to set off at 11am missing the morning traffic.

I had my blind tabard on with my virtual number pinned on it which I printed from the Ashby 20 website.

My customised virtual Ashby 20 race number

I was ready, nervous and excited.

The weather was on our side, not too much traffic about and the kilometres seemed to fly by. The water was passed from the cyclist to my guide, who then passed it to me as were the gels. The system worked like a dream – it meant I didn’t have to stop once, not even for a drink. We even had a couple of friends who appeared on the course – one with a football rattle and one with bells cheering us on.

My Ashby PB was 3:25 which I wanted to beat, so it meant running at sub 6:22 pace. So to remind my guides I had 325 as my race number – didn’t want them letting me slow down. I felt amazing, even going up the hills and we were averaging 5:55 kms. The last few kilometers did drag and I was glad to stop when our watches hit 20 miles (32.2 kms).

Secretly I wanted sub 3:15 and couldn’t believe it when my guides told me my finishing time – 3:09:12 – BOOM !


Wowsers what can I say.

The training went perfectly so I was itching to run and secretly hoping for a PB.

I smashed my PB by 16.28 minutes and I was 17th out of 147 in age category. Overall 297th out of 1, 216.

I absolutely loved the day.

I had two amazing guides/friends but sssshhhh don’t tell them I said that.

Something I wasn’t prepared for though – someone had tipped the local junior school off about my challenge and they all came out to line the path as we finished. They were all cheering and some even had musical instruments – even though I couldn’t see them I was in tears listening to their happy cheerful voices. Check out a bit of video here.

Am I proud, am I happy, am I buzzing ?

Ooohhhh yes and I will be for a while !

I am so lucky to have wonderful family and friends who support and encourage me.

I love running and love my life.

Now where’s my Ashby hoodie

The 2021 Ashby 20 hoodie - in sky blue this year

PS As well as a hoodie a cheese bap (cob or whatever) is normally given out in the end. Obviously we had to uphold this tradition as well.

The cheese bap is traditional

Written by Netty Stevens

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