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Ashley Pearson

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Last updated 9 March 2024

Ashley Pearson, President for 2024/25

Fifty year old Ashley only joined Blackheath four years ago in 2020. She was made a VP by Nic Corry in 2022 and has an impressive pedigree in cycling and triathlons. She has run 3:05:49 for the marathon and is 18:52 park-runner.

Although athletics now plays a very dominant part of her life, running was not always her sporting focus. She started off as a runner, but for many years focused on triathlon and cycling before coming back to running. 

Like a lot of us, her interest was sparked early on as her dad was a runner – albeit fell running and then marathon running. Her dad ran in the first London marathon back in 1981 but prior to that in 1978 established what is known as Ramsay’s Round – a 24 hour mountain marathon challenge based up in Fort William in the north of Scotland. (Incidentally, in training for the Round, Dad was competing in the Three Peaks race in April ’78 where Ted Pepper sadly lost his life. He remembers the incident. And now as a result of that incident, runner safety has been taken much more seriously.) Possibly influenced by many hours spent on Scottish mountains waiting for a fleeting glimpse of her dad it wasn’t fell or marathon running that really excited her. Only when watching the 1984 Olympics, seeing Coe, Ovett and Cram running on the track, did she see the running she wanted to get involved in. She joined the local running club, Edinburgh AC, as a super keen 10 year old and ran 800m and 1500ms on the track and loved cross country in the winter. Her athletic highlights both came as a 13 year old when selected to run the 1500m for the Scotland team in the 1987 Celtic Junior international in Northern Ireland. It didn’t go especially well finishing 4th out of 4 and back then you weren’t even able to keep your vest or tracksuit. It was a more successful result when running in a club mixed age-group road relay. With Yvonne Murray running the final leg, it was an easy win for EAC. 

She picked up swimming shortly after, in order to compete in Biathlon competitions and for her remaining high school years, she flitted between running and swimming competitions. Upon going to Aberdeen University in 1992, where she studied Law and French Law, she approached the University’s triathlon club – primarily for extra swim training but was quickly persuaded to have a go at her first triathlon. The first few races were something of a challenge as she didn’t have her own bike. In fact, in her first ever triathlon, she used the bike of a friend who was also competing in the same event! They had worked out this was possible – at least in theory – and it did work out, just! But the seed was sewn, and it was in triathlon where she would go on to have many successes. Running was temporarily to one side – at least on its own. 

She was invited onto the Scotland Triathlon squad by the end of her second year and went on to win a full blue in triathlon after finishing top 6 in the British Universities tri champs in 1997. After graduating in 1997, she travelled to Perth, Australia to compete in the Triathlon Age-Group World Championships and then stayed out in Australia. She moved over to Brisbane and joined an Ironman Triathlon squad. (Ironman Triathlon  2.4mile swim, 112mile cycle, 26mile marathon run). Key successes came in winning the Cairns half-ironman which was a qualifier for the Australian Ironman champs. In that race, her first ever full Ironman, she finished 11th overall, gaining qualification to the Ironman World champs in Kona, Hawaii. She thus became the first Scottish woman to qualify for and compete in the Ironman World Champs. Selection followed for the British elite long distance team in 1999 that competed in both European and world long course triathlon champs. A win at the British Long distance champs in 2000 was the highlight of her domestic career. After competing in the Ironman World Champs in Kona in 2000, she ‘retired’ from triathlon – it was really time to concentrate on getting a proper job.  

She moved back to Aberdeen to take a job with Ernst & Young (now known as EY) as a trainee accountant in their corporate tax department. It was there she met her now husband Colin. Colin had recently retired from Rugby and so together they decided to have a go at cycling – it seemed appropriate for a triathlete and a good option for a battered rugby player! 

She established herself as a time-trialist winning numerous Scottish titles over 10, 50 and 100miles and was able to put her ironman endurance to good use when she won the Scottish 12hour time-trial champs in 2004, setting a new Scottish record of 245.79 miles which still stands today. 

Children followed and while she competed occasionally, her main focus switched to cycle coaching. She set up a youth section within Deeside Thistle Cycling club in 2014 which remains one of her proudest achievements. She is a level 2 British Cycling Cycle and Cyclo-cross coach. 

A family move south in 2016 opened up new opportunities. They had spotted the Bees Academy online prior to moving and thought that looked like a good reason to move to Bromley (one for the estate agents amongst you to note!). Her 3 children were booked into Bees even before they had found a school!  

The Bees of course was the link to Blackheath & Bromley and in 2018, Daughter No1 moved across and started competing in the KYAL and YDLs. It was fantastic to come back to athletics albeit as a parent and spectator. It wasn’t long though before there was a call for help from John Hubbard – they were looking for more people to volunteer as officials. She jumped at this. Opting to give ‘field judging’ a go as she had absolutely no experience of field events and this seemed like a great way to learn! She’s now a level 2, looking towards level 3 and officiating at a Diamond league in the near future. 

By January 2020 she had running competitions back in her sights – the track was calling! She joined BBHAC and managed to race possibly 3 times before COVID struck. While Covid is generally seen as a bad thing, it gave her the opportunity to assist coaching some of our youth groups – which might not have happened had it not been for Covid. Inspired by the youngsters to run on the track again, she set up a masters training group and now competes on the track in masters league, occasional SAL and at cross country.  

She was invited to be a Vice President in 2021/22 and feels coaching the kids and the Masters groups has brought her athletic journey full circle. With the icing on the cake being she now works at the track on a part time basis. The perfect job!

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