Races of the Year 2012

We salute the best running events of 2012, from the Highlands to the south coast – as rated by you, the RW readers

by Adrian Monti

If 2011 was the year when adventure racing came to the fore, 2012 saw more traditional races fighting back with a vengeance. Your top rated events for the past 12 months in most categories saw both old favourites and new traditional-style events pulling out all the stops to get the fundamentals right.

Better marshalling, bigger and better goody bags, course tweaks and more on offer at race HQs all featured highly on the feedback you gave in your race ratings.

This back-to-basics approach shows that while running is evolving and continuing to diversify in order to appeal to a wider audience, the bedrock of the running scene – good, amateur-funded, not-for-profit races – is as firmly rooted as ever in our sport.

So get your 2013 diaries at the ready – our Races of the Year roundup is full of more awesome races than you’ll have time to run.

Top Ten 10Ks
Top Ten Half marathons
Top Ten Marathons
Top Ten Other Distances
Top Ten Trail
Top Five Adventure
Top Five Scenery
Top Five Atmosphere
Top Five PB Potential
Top Five Beginners

How did we work out the rankings?

We selected the most popular events with more than 25 ratings on runnersworld.co.uk.

To avoid duplication – and the prospect of a few races sweeping the board – we have only listed each race once in a single category. If a race appeared in a distance top 10 (eg 10K) as well as another (such as Scenery) we have left it in the distance chart. If a race scored well in two non-distance categories (eg Atmosphere and Scenery), we have kept it in the category in which it scored highest.

Although the rounded performances of races that have scored well in more than one category were undoubtedly impressive, we wanted to share more of the huge range of races you loved last year.

You may notice that despite the wealth of races in this review, we haven’t included any 5K races. Well, it seems you fast and furious short distancers keep your cards close to your chest, as we simply didn’t have any 5Ks with enough ratings to include. Please note that the dates next to each race are from the 2012 event. To find out the date and more info for 2013 races, go to runnersworld.co.uk/events.

How to rate a race

Your opinion counts! To rate a race, find it by searching backwards on our event search page, click the race name and scroll to rate it at the bottom of its page.

You can see all ratings using the event search, or the 'latest ratings' pages.

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Discuss this article

Well done, RW, for a very fair way of coming up with these listings. It's great to see the diversity of quality races in the UK. Northern Ireland again not well represented. Some great races (eg Events to Live's Bacchus half marathon) were highly rated but didn't get quite enough votes (event directors need to encourage their runners to rate their races!).

Great to see so many different categories, allowing many races to boast that they are in the top 5 or 10 in the country for something.

One listing that we would all like to see are the country's worst races (I think that RW is too polite to compile the list) - from which we can also learn a lot.

Any suggestions? 

Posted: 24/01/2013 at 08:07

Very interesing and inspiring lists!

Also agree the list of 'poorest rated' races would be interesing, but also a death sentance for them...

Posted: 24/01/2013 at 14:16

I think that the identification of what is wrong with the worst-rated races can be a powerful spur to start getting these things right!

Some of the very worst ratings I saw through the year were related to inept baggage retreival systems, or lack of them, since often the bags were just heaped in a pile for people to find their own bags. The London Marathon, by contrast, has an insanely-great baggage retrieval system. 

Posted: 24/01/2013 at 15:39

OK - here's my list of things that a great race must have:

Easy to register

Good value for money (not necessarily cheap - a £300 Ironman can be good value) 

Easy to get to 

Enough toilets at the start

Easy bag drop

Good atmosphere at start and on course (chin wag, cameraderie and ribaldry etc) 

Starts on time

Great course - no constrictions - ideally good views - accurate distance measurement - adequate water on the course* - clear course signage*

Accurate timing at the end*

Good drinks/nosh at the end (Bacchus half impossible to beat on this - a feast)

Good goodies (doesn't need to be in a bag!)

Easy bag collection

Easy to get away

Results, video, write-up, photos etc etc up promptly on t'Internet


In my experience, runners will forgive many things, but the ones that they won't forgive are marked with * - enough water on the course, clear course marking and accurate timekeeping at the end (does not necessarily mean chip timing, since chips fail). 

Not too much to ask for, surely?

...and there are plenty of races that don't tick all these boxes. 


Posted: 30/01/2013 at 09:35

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