Races of the Year 2012: Half marathons

Discover your top ten rated half marathon races of 2012



by Adrian Monti

Mull of Kintyre
Mull of Kintyre Half Marathon Photo credit: James McFayden

1. Mull of Kintyre Half Marathon, Argyll & Bute, Scotland
Date in 2012: June 3
Date in 2013: May 26 - Find out more
Paul McCartney fell in love with this beauty spot, and those who have run its legendary race think it’s pretty fab, too. You’ll Beatle along a course, which runs by a loch and the beach, before winging your way to its post-race ceilidh. A worthy winner for the second successive year.

2. Trionium Leith Hill Half Marathon, Dorking, Surrey
Date in 2012: March 24
Date in 2013: March 24 - Enter online now
The gothic tower on the top of Leith Hill, one of the highest points in south-east England, is your guiding landmark on this course – which is a horror story for anyone who likes racing on the flat. You’ll definitely have earned your post-race cooked brekkie back at race HQ after conquering these pitiless peaks.

3. Water of Life Half Marathon, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Date in 2012: March 25
Date in 2013: March 24 - Enter online now
This unthreatening point-to-point along the Thames Path between Marlow and Henley has steady inclines rather than full-blown hills and is a great step-up for anyone wanting to move on to longer races. In this idyllic riverside setting you’ll easily get into the flow, with your rhythm only occasionally being broken when passing through a kissing gate.

4. Hastings Half Marathon, East Sussex
Date in 2012: March 25
Date in 2013: March 24 - Enter online now
The relentless climbing during the first part of this brilliantly supported half gives an early warning that this run through 1066 country is a battle rather a relaxing seaside jaunt. But the hard work’s almost forgotten as you coast – hopefully – the final three miles along the prom to claim the much admired finisher’s medal.

5. North Lincolnshire Half Marathon, Lincolnshire
Date in 2012: May 6
Date in 2013: April 28 - Find out more
Olympic fever swept Scunthorpe last year and inspired its first road half marathon in 12 years, which appealed to those who adore a fast, flat, uncomplicated route. Runners praised those extra little flourishes from the organisers, such as the finishing line on the pitch of Glanford Park, the home ground of Scunthorpe United FC.

6. Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, Kent
Date in 2012: February 26
Date in 2013: February 24 - Find out more
If Dame Kelly Holmes high-fiving you at the start of this
hilly road race around Tunbridge Wells and the outlying villages didn’t fire up your running mojo last year, there’s no hope for you. This race has fantastic crowd support but a bit of Kelly’s own spirit is definitely needed as you haul yourself up the mighty Spring Hill climb at seven miles. 

7. Four Villages Half Marathon, Helsby, Cheshire
Date in 2012: January 22
Date in 2013: January 20 - Find out more
With park-and-ride buses laid on to ease pre-race stress of missing the start time, the organisers’ considerate attitude pervades this race, which attracts a field of 2,000. For many it’s the perfect curtain-raiser to a new year of running, especially when, after a bumpy ride around the Cheshire villages, you’re on the two-mile downhill dash back to Helsby.

8. Destination Basingstoke Shire Half Marathon, Hampshire
Date in 2012: October 7
Date in 2013: October 6 - Find out more
There must be something in the water around the north Hampshire village of Cliddesden judging by the locals’ constant cheering of the 1,400 who ran through it during Basingstoke’s second-ever half. Luckily race organisers were well in control of this sequel, which is already becoming a runaway success.

9. Ealing Half Marathon, London
Date in 2012: September 30
Date in 2013: September 29 - Find out more
This new race was love at first sight for most runners – first you swooned over the course, then you went all mushy over the finisher’s medal. A loop around leafy west London, beginning and ending in pretty Lammas Park, really got the heart pumping in more ways than one.

10. Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon, Grantham, Lincolnshire
Date in 2012: March 11
Date in 2013: March 10 - Enter online now
There are plenty of pluses in this mathematical sounding race, with a great send-off from South Kesteven Sports Stadium and an inspiring run along the canal towpath with Belvoir Castle on the horizon. Add two mid-race hills with ample time to recover on the return journey and an excellent finisher’s technical T-shirt, and this is one race that you’ll want to do many times again.


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