Last year I was shortlisted to become an Ambassador for athletic clothing company Ashmei. Unfortunately I didn’t get any further at that point. Unfathomably I have been shortlisted again this year and last weekend was the selection day. A lot of the fellow would-be ambassadors have already shared their recollections of the day and you can find them on twitter under #ashmeiambassador.
For better or worse here is my offering.
I’m a minimal kind of guy: minimal height, minimal small talk, minimal intellect and minimal capacity for pain after about 80km.
Ashmei immediately attracted me, not because they aren’t chatty or are a bit stupid (far from it – ahem) but because their design is so simple, so minimalist and yet so gorgeously effective.
This isn’t a kiss-ass ham-fisted attempt to cosy up to the guys from Aldbury, (look it up on Google Earth – they’d love to natter to you in person too) I’ve been wearing their stuff for years.
But for all the good looks what really matters, what makes them stand out from the rest (and yes, the price does put them pretty much at the top end of my budget) is the fact that they do exactly what they say they do. (For older readers, think Cuprinol, for younger ones, ask Grandad.)
Essentially they keep you warm when you’re cold and cool when you’re hot. But the real kicker, the whole reason I buy them – other than attempting to attain some sort of Steve McQueen cool and failing – is that they don’t smell afterwards.
(Steve McQueen cool – I rest my case)
I’m the attractive kind of runner who, for some unknown reason, sweats profusely from miles 3-5 and then my skin gives up bothering. Consequently I’m drenched at the start, clingy in the middle, drying out a bit towards the end. I’ve worn tops that stink like cat vomit after a bit of perspiration and worry that I’m giving fellow racers extra incentive to get ahead of me or at least up wind of me.
I could give you chapter and verse about polyester v merino wool v merino/carbon manufacturing but I’d like you to keep reading so trust me, it works. Read up on it if you must but because of this stuff, I’m no longer “that guy” you avoid in the mid-pack.
Just as well as I’ve just found the one I wore a while ago crumpled up behind the back seat of my car.
A very sociable 10am to the event start meant I could fit in a very unsociable Tring park run beforehand (that hill, seriously, why?). Ever the fatalist I reasoned that even if I failed again at the ambassadorial role, I still had another parkrun in the bank. All not lost.
As soon as I arrived at Ashmei HQ I was relieved of my Polaroids (not as dodgy as it sounds) and had a quick headshot taken (presumably so later they can spread them out, Britain’s Next Top Model style).
Then there was half an hour or so of mingling with fellow runners. After last weeks training camp in the New Forest I was getting withdrawal symptoms from talking about running so it was great to chat with various people about upcoming races etc. A hot topic was how far people had travelled for the event and again I felt like a fraud being only 20 minutes away. Some had flown or taken overnight trains to be there. Proper dedication.
Talks by founders, ambassadors and Polaroid takers (I’ll get to these, honest) followed and then we were taken out for a run in the hills of Asheridge Estate. This is probably my favourite area locally with a great 17 mile course around the perimeter of the Estate.
It was good to be running with so many people and we naturally fell into groups of 2 or 3. The pace was sociable allowing us to get to know each other even on the uphill sections.
By varying their pace runners could subtly drop back or speed up when they’d had enough of me. I cottoned on to this and using the same tactic managed to chat to a fair few people. I also picked up some decent tips about next years Marathon des Sables from Holly (@ultraholly) who had done it last year. I promised her I shall pester her for more ideas throughout the year.
And then it was all over. Back to Ashmei HQ, cake and coffee laid on and a final bit of natter before we were on our way.
I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a morning. The company was interesting and friendly, the countryside stunning, and though I’ll be sad if I get no further (especially as with 3 marathons, 3 half marathons and a 24 hour race in the next 3 months I’m going to need A LOT of kit) it was nice to make new friends, catch up with old ones and continue to build that like-minded community of people passionate about running.
Oh, the Polaroids…
We were asked to bring one shot of ourselves and a personal one relating to our sport.
These are mine:
1. Me, having attempted Striding Edge to Hellvellyn with my son in the ice and decided that today was not the day I would kill us both. There will be other days I can do that…
2. I met this guy on a long run last year ant it seemed the personification of my feelings about running. Its not always about attaining something. Sometimes its about remembering where you are, why you are there, immersing yourself in the surroundings and enjoying the moment. And I loved that the Sainsbury’s bag he had his lunch in matched his robes …