1. Trionium Knacker Cracker 10K, Dorking, Surrey
Date in 2012: January 1
This ultimate ‘kill or cure’ New Year’s Day hangover recovery
run to clear fuzzy heads has won our best 10K category three times. Fancy dress is encouraged, although crampons might be more appropriate as you scale four awesome hills starting at Burford Spur, at the foot of the legendary Box Hill.
2. Richmond Park Marathon, London
Date in 2012: May 20
Date in 2013: May 5 - Enter online now
In only two years, the three big laps and one smaller loop of this undulating course have made this race around the gorgeous Royal Park a resounding success. Just hope you can outrun the resident red and fallow deer, though to our knowledge none of them have medalled yet.
3. Farnham Pilgrim Full and Half Marathon, Surrey
Date in 2012: September 16
Date in 2013: September 15 - Enter online now
These two races, which are held on the same day in the Surrey Hills to the east of Farnham, take in part of the historic Pilgrims’ Way. You’ll be praying you make it to the top of the steep run up a sandy hill to St Martha’s, an isolated church with a wonderful view to reward your hard work.
4. Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon, Coleford, Gloucestershire
Date in 2012: September 30
With an immensely popular spring half in March already in the diary, last year the organisers introduced an autumn version too. The new race follows a hillier route through the Gloucestershire forest on mainly wide, hard-packed trails that avoid any road crossing points, and the event is chip-timed too.
5. South Downs Marathon, Slinford, near Chichester, West Sussex
Date in 2012: June 9
Date in 2013: June 8 - Enter online now
This hilly point-to-point, which follows the spine of the South Downs Way to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield, has become a classic among trail racers. You’ll certainly feel like the king of the castle once you’ve conquered the mighty Butser Hill, the highest point on this beautiful chalk ridge.
6. Trionium Bath Hilly Half, Somerset
Date in 2012: November 25
Double check your calf muscles are in full working order before embarking on the two gruelling laps of this race, which begins and ends at Bath Racecourse. This tough scenic run canters along a section of the Cotswold Way as well as the tiny Somerset village of North Stoke in another well-executed Trionium trot.
7. Dirt Half Marathon Challenge, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
Date in 2012: November 17
You certainly won’t get bored on this varied trail race as you head along a canal towpath, beautiful woodland and then out into the Bedfordshire countryside. You want hills too? There’s a real beast lurking out there, which catches out many first timers, before you return to civilisation at race HQ.
8. Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 Trail Marathon, Wiltshire
Date in 2012: August 12
This offroader gets its name from the five rivers, four hills, three large country estates, two castles and one cathedral it takes in. It’s run largely on paths, bridleways and trails not usually open to the public as you blaze your way back to the start at Salisbury fire station.
9. Brooks Hellrunner
Various locations and dates
The organisers of this series of popular events warn you in their pre-race blurb to ‘expect suffering’. But hundreds of you still flock to its Hell Up North, In the Middle and two Down South races. You get muddy, wet, cold and exhausted in the bogs and trails on its fiendish routes, but you love it all.
10. Rutland Water Marathon, Rutland, East Midlands
Date in 2012: November 4
The setting has a worldwide reputation as a wildlife lover’s haven and the race features army cadets helping out the marshals. But ‘don’t panic!’ as the course on paths and tarmac isn’t too bumpy and there are no big hills to battle with.