25–26 Jan 2025 276 days to go! #RunShow

Ashley Varley

Hello, I’m Ash and thank you for taking the time to read my brief running biography.

So, were did it all begin? Well, for me, it was way back in 1999 when, I was encouraged by work colleagues to join a small team who were running our local half marathon for charity. I’d never run before, but I was young, and with a little practise, I was sure I could do it. Half a mile into my first training run, I’d stopped twice and, I was coughing like a chain smoker – even though I’d never smoked! I didn’t want to entertain failure and so, I put in three months of hard training and, I just about made it to the end of the 13.1 miles. For six years or so, my running story remained pretty much the same. A few months prior to my local half marathon, I’d start training again, get fitter and run the race. Then, for reasons I can’t quite remember, I would stop again!

Around 2005, things begun to change. I joined a local running club and, things really took off from there. I ran many local races from 5k to the marathon distance and revelled in the friendship, community and bonds that being part of a running club provided me with. My love of running grew and grew and, the affair hasn’t stopped (despite one or two hiccups along the way!)

I’ve organised and run many charity events over the years – including running (well, increasingly staggering as the days wore on) six marathons in six days. I’ve been a guide runner for a blind lady and pushed a little boy around my local half as part of a fundraising effort. I’ve also been a pacer at half marathons and, at my local Parkrun. Whilst we’re on the subject of pacing, one day, I’d love to be a pacemaker at a big city marathon!

By 2016, I was 43, I’d let my training slip somewhat and, put on a little (actually quite a lot) of weight. I went into the London marathon that year totally unprepared and, I paid the price for my bad preparation. I’ve no excuses, the blame was all mine, but at that point I found myself at a crossroads. I could carry on as I was, or I could see what happened if I really tried. Try is what I did, and, over the last six years, I’ve trained more effectively and efficiently and, I’ve set new PB’s from 5k to the marathon. I’ve also found the joys and challenges of ultra-running, finishing races from 50k up to 100 miles. And recently, I completed a long-held ambition of running the 100k UTMB CCC race, in the beautiful mountains surrounding the Mont Blanc massif.

What does the future hold for me? Well, I can’t imagine my life without running! It is so good for me both physically and mentally and, I owe a lot to this wonderful sport. There are many new challenges to tackle, new races to attempt and, many more miles to run. But most of all, there are many new runners to meet along the way and, hopefully one day, that might be you!

I will see you soon on the roads and the trails!