ALDI Ashby 20 - history
The Ashby 20 was born in 1988, after a number of Ivanhoe Runners decided that the club could put on a 20 mile race, and the mantra – “the Ashby 20, a race organised for runners by runners” was born. A small group of members worked on the planning of the first race, including Paul Enion, Bob White, Peter Brown, Dave Mann and Kevin Sanders, and they shared the race responsibilities among them. Unlike today where Ivanhoe Runners have a separate race committee of over 20 people, who under the direction of Race Director Richard Bebbington work all year to put on the race.
The first race was held on 2nd April 1989, and saw over 400 runners complete the one-lap race which was based from Hood Park Leisure Centre and headed North from Ashby. Winner of that first race was Trevor Hawes in a time of 1.52.46 and first lady was Sandra Lappage in 2.10.48.
The race continued on that route until 2001, when the race was sadly cancelled due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak, and by the time the 2002 race came around the new Ashby bypass meant moving to a new two lap route to the South of Ashby. The only other year cancelled was 2018 when the “Mini Beast from the East struck! Since 2015 the route has seen a partial road closure to increase the safety of the event.
The current course records are 1.44.17 set by Gareth Raven in 2005 and 2.02.40 set by Diane Lobacevske in 2009. The race continues to attract runners from far and wide , and is rated one of the best in the country for the distance, and in 2017 won the Bill Reynolds trophy for excellence.
Since 2006 the main sponsor has been Aldi, and their support has been tremendous. Many other organisations also make the event possible, including Leicestershire Search and Rescue, Ashby Endurance Explorer Scouts, the Rotary Club of Ashby Castle, Ashby Town Council, North West Leicestershire District Council, Derby Runner, Conkers parkrun. The day itself requires nearly 250 volunteers to stage – a mammoth undertaking!
The race enjoys a long prize list, including the Paul Enion prize, awarded in memory of one of the races founders, who was sadly killed training in 1992. This is for the first local male and female, and again very kindly donated by Champneys Springs.
The event has become a prominent community event for the area – the support of local villages, residents and businesses on race day is vital and appreciated. It raises money for local and national charities – which include Heartwize Runners and the Teenage Cancer trust. And local businesses such as hotels, cafes, pubs and shops benefit from the 1500 plus people coming into the area on race day. So it’s a win-win for everyone!