1. Southport MAD DOG Seaside 10K, Merseyside
Date in 2012: February 12
This year’s 10K top dog, a flat race taking in town, country and seaside scenery, also comes highly recommended for beginners. With chip timing, a medal, a techical tee memento (in a range of sizes), free massages and plenty of spot prizes, you really couldn’t ask for more. Enter online now.
2. Balfron 10K, Stirling, Scotland
Date in 2012: April 22
A beautiful rural race within a one- to two-hour drive of Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh proved a winning formula. Even sharing a date with the London Marathon didn’t knock the wind out of this race’s sails – the course, which wound through quiet country roads, attracted nearly 600 runners.
3. Pride Run 10K, London
Date in 2012: August (TBC)
The party atmosphere of the Pride 10K draws runners to the capital every year, and 2011 was no exception. It’s a fast, flat course in Victoria Park with a top goody bag (this year’s included a plush race towel) and free bagels for afters – plus free entry to the all-important post-run party.
4. Ashford and District 10K, Kent
Date in 2012: February 5
Also rated highly in the Beginners category, this popular and welcoming rural road race produces reliably fast times on a scenic and accurately measured course. And for PB-hunters, the straight, downhill home stretch is a big bonus. Enter online.
5. Grant & Stone Wycombe 10K, High Wycombe, Bucks
Date in 2012: July (TBC)
The race headquarters has a village-fete feel at the Grant & Stone Wycombe 10K, complete with family-friendly stalls and attractions aplenty. And the race itself? There’s one lap, one big hill at the start and some charming scenery.
6. Silverstone Grand Prix 10K, Northamptonshire
Date in 2012: May (TBC)
Two laps of a flat motor-racing track translates to serious PB potential. The Silverstone Grand Prix 10K’s slick organisation is the icing on the cake – which means runners can relax and enjoy racing around the historic home of the British Grand Prix (albeit a tad slower than the cars). Enter online.
7. Bupa Great Manchester Run 10K, Manchester
Date in 2012: May 20
A flat road course lined three-deep with supporters in places – the Great Manchester Run 10K has ‘beginner friendly’ written all over it. You’ll go home with a medal, T-shirt and goody bag – and maybe you’ll even brush with the elites at the front.
8. Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash 10K, West Yorkshire
Date in 2012: November (TBC)
Dash is an appropriate name for a race as flat as this. The course takes runners on a whirlwind tour of the city centre, from the town hall to the 12th century Kirkstall Abbey and back. Just the ticket for beginners.
9. Active Nation Lincoln 10K, Lincolnshire
Date in 2012: March 25
During the race, runners go straight past the magnificent gothic cathedral and complete the final portion of the run around the grounds of Lincoln Castle, which houses one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. Enter online.
10. South London 10K, London
Date in 2012: February, May and November
Winding through Wimbledon’s streets and its common – home of the Wombles – the South London 10K is billed by the organisers as ‘one of the cheapest 10Ks around’ (entry is just £13), and for this you get chip timing, a medal, a T-shirt and an impressive array of refreshments at the race HQ.