“You can go out for a run and completely forget whatever is going on in your personal life”

Name: Ashley Bullock
Age: 37
Occupation: Fire Safety Manager
Marathons completed: 1 (sort of)
Running 2020 London Marathon for charity? Yes, St Basils.

Having spent seven years trying to get a ballot place in the London Marathon, Ashley Bullock (@ashleybullock53) will finally get his chance to take on the capital in April.

It won’t be his first marathon. The 37-year-old fire safety manager competed in the Birmingham Marathon in 2017 but as he explains, that didn’t go to plan. “I got to mile 18 and was well on target for the time I was targeting when I pulled up with a hamstring injury. For the last eight miles, I couldn’t run so I walked. I wouldn’t let it beat me but it took me just under five hours.”

“Broken physically and mentally” by the experience, he swore blind that he’d not do another marathon. That was until “iconic” London lured him back in. Now he’s confident that he’ll put things right.

“I know I can run the distance,” he explains. “I’m a very competitive person, so I’ve set myself a target time. Beating that will be the pressure. The pressure won’t be the distance. I know I can do that, I will do the distance. Doing my target time is what is getting me out of bed in the morning to go and train.”

So what is that target time? “I’ve got a plan A, which is finishing in 3 hours 20 minutes,” he says, “if plan A goes out of the window halfway through you don’t want to be getting dejected. 3 hrs 30 minutes is my backup plan.”

Ashley has been a dedicated cyclist for years – he even runs his own team – but has gradually fallen out with the sport and intends to wind down. He’s expecting running to fill the void.

“You can go out for a run, even if it’s just for half an hour, and completely forget whatever is going on in your personal life or at work,” he says.

“For those 30 minutes, you’re concentrating on your watch, your times, your splits, the session you’re doing and everything else goes out the window. People rave about running, just being out in the fresh air, I think it’s brilliant.”

So far, training is going well. “I’m running three to four times a week at the minute and that will ramp up towards the marathon,” he explains. “I know within that I’ve got to do some speed work, some hill work and a long run every week. I’m not following it to the letter but I know what sessions need to be banked.”

He’s tracking his progress with a Garmin Connect watch and like a true cyclist, jokes that “Strava is God”. Having failed in his quest to find a pair of Nike Vaporfly 4% running shoes, he’s settled on  Zoom Fly 3s and reckons they’ll do the job.

Ashley is aiming to raise £2,000 for St Basil’s, a charity based in Birmingham that supports young homeless people. “I have a couple of friends who work for them so it was an ideal opportunity to support them,” he says. “We’ve supported them a couple of times within the cycling club. I want to do myself proud, but I want to do the charity proud as well. They’ve been really good backing me. The support network they offer is fantastic.”

We’ll be checking in a few more times with Ashley and our fellow O.R.S sponsored runners, Kieron and Sophie, as they get closer to race day. You can follow their progress on our social channels.