1. Bupa Great South Run, Southsea, Hampshire
Date in 2013: October 27 - Find out more
The fast and flat 10-mile route takes in the iconic sites of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard including Portsmouth Cathedral, Spinnaker Tower and the HMS Victory. The final flat stretch along the seafront either enhances or scuppers your PB chances depending on which way the wind is blowing, but it’s a bracing and always-thrilling end to a race that deserves its ‘great’ moniker.
2. Brooks Paddock Wood Half Marathon, Kent
Date in 2012: April 7
A popular half, which takes more than 2,000 entrants on lovely flat roads past Kent’s hop fields and orchards, grows in confidence each year. If this is your first taste of a large mass participation race, this event with its adequate parking, baggage storage, refreshments, post-race physio and speedy notification of your result is a good one to measure all others against.
3. British 10K, London
Date in 2012: July 14
With Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s and Big Ben on the course map, you’ll probably see more famous landmarks on this pacy route around the capital than your average sightseers’ tour bus. And there’s no need to hit the tacky gift shops afterwards either as you’ll head home with a classy medal and goody bag.
4. Edinburgh Marathon Festival, East Lothian, Scotland
Date in 2012: May 26
Soak up your first taste of a big city marathon along with 16,000 fellow runners who enjoy this cheery atmosphere. Played out along one of the flattest courses in the UK, runners are soon whisked away from the city centre and out along the coast to the finish at Musselburgh.
5. Parkrun, Various locations
Nine years ago 13 runners gathered in a London park and this running revolution was born. Today more than a quarter of a million people take part in the weekly, free timed 5K races in the UK and across the world. Whatever your experience, ability or age, find your nearest event, sign up and discover the inner athlete hiding inside you.