Pocket Race Guide – Quirky Distances

Test your legs over a less conventional distance - a smart way to snap up a shiny new PB



by Dominique Brady

John Fraser 10 (Leicester, September 4)

If you've got your eye on an autumn half-marathon, take on this undulating ten-miler to get your legs into gear. Chase over virtually traffic-free lanes in the Leicestershire countryside, with a few climbs along the way making sure you'll never have a dull moment. Some fast times will be notched up in this event, chosen as the County 10 Mile Championship and the final race in the 2011 Leicestershire Road Running League. However, even if you're not a speed demon, this friendly chase hosted by Wigston Phoenix Running Club is a rewarding one to add to your racing CV. There's also a lovely commemorative water bottle for all finishers to take home. Enter online.

peasemore 5, pocket race guide, autumn races

Peasemore Festival 5 (Newbury, September 11)  

Explore the picturesque village of Peasemore and the stunningly scenic Berkshire Downs in this charmer of a race. Get some hill practice in beforehand so you can tear up and down the quiet, undulating lanes with ease. The superb post-race bash offers the perfect incentive to get to the finish as fast as possible - a crowd will be waiting to cheer you home at the village green, with refreshments, bacon sarnies and live music on offer. With a playground and family activities to keep spectators amused, this event offers a fun day out for runners and their supporters. Enter online.

woodstock 12, autumn races, pocket race guide

Woodstock 12 (Woodstock, September 17)

Enjoy a tour of one of England's finest heritage sights with this superbly scenic twelve-mile dash. The stunning pleasure gardens of Bleinheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, offer an inspirational race setting. You almost won't want the race to end during an idyllic Saturday afternoon racing three varied laps of this beautiful private estate. There's a few testing slopes on each circuit, but with encouraging marshals and excellent crowd support, you're guaranteed to power through. This year the race organisers have banned the use of iPods or MP3 players - though with such glorious surroundings, you really won't need any other distractions. Enter online.

King Alfred's Torment 7 (Wiltshire, September 18)

Become running royalty after conquering this hilly trail race along Somerset-Wiltshire border. Go on the rampage through woods and grasslands, with stunning views of the 18th-century Stourhead Estate and the folly King Alfred's Tower to distract you if you're feeling the burn. Once you reach the finish, you can collect your 'burnt cake' in keeping with the King Alfred theme and bask in the pride of completing this tough but undeniably scenic challenge. Enter online.

Votwo Kamikaze Banzi Charge 7 (Dorset, September 18)

Test your mettle with this seven-mile obstacle extravaganza. Head to Mapperton Farm near Bridport, where you'll take on a two-lap circuit including steep hills, mud and fiendish challenges. Don your Kamikaze headband and prepare for one of the more surreal race starts - charging down a terrifyingly steep slope with hundreds of equally crazed competitors. Then the race really gets under way as you clamber over spurs and valleys, wade through bogs, rope swing over ditches and hurtle down slides. Once you've crossed the finish line, you can collect a nice clean race T-shirt to replace your mud-splattered kit! Enter online.

barningham hall 5k ish

Barningham Hall 5K ish Run (Norfolk, October 1)

If you like a spot of culture or a few family-friendly touches to your races, then this event is a must. As you cover a figure of eight course through the private Barningham Hall estate, admire the wonderful 19th century landscaping by Humphry Repton, which has barely changed since 1807. Dash around the lake, through uneven woodland and across grazing land, before enjoying an 1.6K sprint straight up the inspiring West Avenue to the grand Hall itself. Once you cross the finish line, you'll meet with a carnival atmosphere - hot food, moreish cakes and traditional fete games and more. Enter online.

leighton tough ten

Leighton Tough 10 (Leighton Buzzard, October 2)

Returning for the second year to its new tougher route, this hilly race will force you to dig deep. Thankfully the winning combination of friendly marshals and a scenic route through fields, woods and quaint villages should keep your spirits sky-high. Perfect as a warm-up for an autumn half-marathon or as a rewarding challenge in its own right, you'll head home with a medal, goody bag and perhaps most important of all, the respect of your fellow competitors. Enter online.

Snowdonia 24hr Mountain Challenge (Gwynedd, October 8)

Set your own race distance in this event - or rather, see how many hilly miles your legs can carry you in a day. In this unique 24hr ultra, test how many times you can charge up the trails to Snowdonia's summit. Organiser Mike Buss, who broke the world record for the most summits of Snowdon in 24hrs carrying a 40lb pack, will be on hand to see if his record's in danger . Good luck if you're sufficiently brave - or should we say mad - to take on this incredible challenge. Enter online.


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