Pocket Race Guide: Historic Settings
If you like a dash of culture when competing, take a speedy tour of some of Britain’s finest sights with our guide to heritage races
Posted: 7 October 2010
by Dominique Brady
Robin Hood 10K (Nottinghamshire, October 10)
Legend has it that Robin Hood and his devoted followers would roam Sherwood Forest. Relive the medieval mystery by joining a band of merry men (and women) for a canter along trails through the magical woodland of Sherwood Pines. A good mix of inclines and flat trails should keep you entertained over the two lap Robin Hood 10K, testing Evil Sheriff duathlon, single lap Maid Marian 5K or the family-friendly Little John 2K. The race has a friendly atmosphere and loot worthy of Robin Hood himself - a long sleeved T-shirt will be waiting for you at the finish. Enter online now.
This half-marathon kicks off in one of Carlisle's most dominant landmarks - the medieval castle which has been standing guard over the city for more than nine centuries. The English and Scottish fought to gain control of this stone fortress and you'll need to soak up the fighting spirit of this historic battleground before embarking on a challenging chase. There are a few undulations along the way as you leave the city and head through the picturesque villages of Cumwhinton, Wetheral and Scotby before a rather more modern finish at Sheepmount athletics stadium. Following your speedy historic tour you'll find medals and T-shirts worthy of weary racing warriors. Enter online now.
As you dig deep to push yourself over tough laps of Ampthill Park in this cross-country chase, heritage will be the last thing on your mind. However, the stunning parkland should be a helpful distraction to your burning legs over the fiercely up-and-down terrain. The parkland used to be home to Ampthill Castle, where Katherine of Aragon waited whilst her marriage to Henry VIII was annulled. Centuries later, along came Capability Brown to landscape the grounds and with many of his designs remaining today it's worth making time to explore the grounds at a more leisurely pace following the 8K, a fast and frantic race which incorporates the EVAC cross-country championships. Enter online now.
One of North Yorkshire's most popular tourist towns has a rich and fascinating history - and you can spot the visual clues as you race through the medieval market town. Start this challenging race on the cobbles of Richmond's market place before following a hilly and varied route passing Richmond Falls on the River Swale and a short circuit of the Catterick Garrison. Just when you are starting to tire an epic finish in the grounds of Richmond Castle should revive your spirits. Built to subdue the unruly North, this towering Norman fortress will house hundreds of celebrating runners. There's even an ale festival nearby to add to the party atmosphere. Enter online now.
Deal 5 (Kent, November 7)
Race on a flat and fast course between two formidable fortresses whilst soaking up seafront views in this PB-friendly course. Deal and Walmer Castles formed part of Henry's VIII's defence plans against a possible attack by France or Spain after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Neither faced attack in the 16th century but Deal suffered extensive damage as a Royalist stronghold in the Civil War and later from bombing in the Second World War. On a Sunday morning surrounded by a friendly field the only battle you will face will be with the wintry weather before you collect a worthy medal as a memento. Enter online now.
Speed along Britain's oldest road and soak up 5000-year-old views of rolling hills, grassland and woodland seen by Viking, Saxon and Druid eyes. Three days of testing marathons along the route can be run or walked with numerous fascinating sights to spot along the way. Highlights include Avebury - a stone ring larger and older than Stonehenge, the Uffingdon White horse and the long barrow burial chambers left from the Iron Age. With checkpoints rammed with treats and an encouraging, friendly atmosphere this is could be the perfect introduction to ultras. Enter online now.
It will take a fierce gallop to reach the summit of the White Horse Hill in Westbury, but once your tired legs have pounded the slope into submission you'll have superb views of one of the oldest chalk hill carvings in Wiltshire. Restored in 1798 it is said a horse carving could have been at that spot since 878 to mark King Alfred's victory at the Battle of Eðandun - though this is a matter of some historical debate. Either way the magnificent carving will be a highlight of your trail race and marks the end of your struggle. Then it's downhill all the way to the finish in this delightfully rural five-miler. Enter online now.
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