Take the plunge this summer or autumn with a race on our select beginners' shortlist - they're reassuring and inspiring in equal doses
On a bank holiday weekend there's nothing better than heading to the seaside or a country fair. Combine both with this charming race which takes you around Poole Harbour before heading back into Strickland Country Fair. Although some of the sandy tracks and slight undulations may seem more challenging than a typical beginner's race, the friendly marshals and stunning coastal scenery are more than ample rewards. Once you finish the race, it's time to relax with your finishers medal and take advantage of your free entry to the fair - or head to the nearby golden sandy beach to stretch out tired legs. Enter online now.
Don't let the name mislead you; this race is not a battle but instead a testimony to 10k cruising. With only a few very small slopes, beginners can take full advantage of the flat, country roads before a delightful downhill finish allows you to notch up unexpectedly quick times. It's no surprise this race attracts PB chasers every year but beginners will be reassured by the supportive, friendly atmosphere and a real mix of abilities in the 500-stong field. Wipe off your sweat with a fluffy finisher's towel before settling back and enjoying the rest of your bank holiday weekend in this quaint market town, deep in the heart of Somerset. Enter online now.
If you have a penchant for local pubs and love making the most of the great British countryside, then this super friendly point-to-point race could be the perfect event to kick off your running calendar. Starting at the pretty village of Chiddingly this race meanders through quiet countryside roads to the quaint village of East Hoathly. Expect a large flag-waving crowd on arrival and rapturous applause from locals. However, the best reward of all might be the complimentary drink at the excellent Kings Head pub which boasts its own micro-brewery and the mouthwatering BBQ where you can mingle with fellow runners. Enter online now.
The tranquil, majestic grounds of Hatfield House are home to one of the most madcap fun runs of this year. Dust off your red nose and truss yourself up in spots and stripes as hundreds of runners dressed as clowns raise money for the Theodora Children's Trust. Bring along four friends or family members to laugh at your fashion blunders and cheer you on - but make sure you all arrive at the same time to guarantee admittance. Bring a picnic and make the most of the superb grounds after your race, or cheat and make a beeline for the refreshment stalls - custard pie anyone? Enter online now.
Cross-country newbies will delight in this varied course which canters through traffic free country lanes, woodland paths, freshly ploughed fields and a canal towpath. Beginners can opt for the 5k fun run or push it up a gear with the 10k option. Railway bridges and stiles make it hard to get a PB but that aside, the electric atmosphere and sheer variety has created an enjoyably challenging race that draws punters back year after year. With a start and finish near historic Gawsworth Hall you can soak up the culture post-race or just dive into the tearoom for moreish locally made cakes. Enter online now.
It's no surprise that all-female races are booming in popularity. With a welcoming and supportive atmosphere they are the perfect place to take your first tentative strides into the world of running. And it couldn't be easier to persuade friends and family to join you on this fun, pocket-friendly 5k in Newport. Set in the stunning 90-acre grounds of Tredegar House this charity event promises a great day for all abilities. Whether you are a more experienced runner or a first timer, the pancake flat course is ideal and there's a medal for all finishers. More unusually children can participate, so this promises to be a real family affair. Enter online now.
Highgate 5K (London, September 26)
Take in the stunning views of flora and fauna and pass by ancient trees on this magical single lap race which winds around London's Hampstead Heath. There are a few hills along the way but you should be more than ready to tackle them after an enjoyable warm-up session in Pond Square. Expect to see numerous comedy costumes and enthusiastic marshals in this beginner-friendly caper culminating in a well-earned goody bag. With strong support from the crowds you won't have any trouble completing the course, whether you're walking, jogging or running. Afterwards sample the tempting cafes of Highgate or enjoy the Heath at a more leisurely pace. Enter online now.
Cross your fingers for a sunny day so you can explore all of Gloucester's historic charms and not get swallowed by a puddle like Dr Foster of children's nursery rhyme fame. It's a case of old meets new as you join a friendly thousand-strong field of runners for this wonderfully varied road race. Peruse the re-developed docks before heading to the cathedral grounds and making your way up the main shopping street. With traffic free roads and large supportive crowds even the most tired legs will get an extra boost before a triumphant finish in Gloucester Park. Join in the sea of blue by donning the cancer research t-shirt. Enter online now.