Readers' Races of the Year 2005

You voted for them... here they are. It's your favourite races of 2005

Posted: 10 January 2006

Race The Train, Gwynedd - 5th in 15+ votes category

If you submitted one of our 14,000 race ratings in 2005, very many thanks indeed. Whether you were unearthing a hidden gem or confirming or disputing the views of dozens of others, your scores and comments are now helping runners up and down the country to decide where to race each weekend.

The ratings

We've divided the 2005 ratings into two tables:

If you'd like an alternative take, here's the RW magazine top 100, in which our experts score the UK's races on a slightly different set of criteria.

Special thanks to...

What do the most prolific racers in your area rate as the best races (and do you agree with them)? Check out the ratings pages of our top 30 star raters:

Christopher Day (Lincs, 65 ratings); Grecian 2000 (Beds, 58); jd (Essex, 51); Wiz (Merseyside, 49); Racer Dan (Surrey, 48); The Bevster (Scotland, 44); CraigB (Kent, 43); Welsh Alex (Wales, 33); Jaspa Pacman (W Mids, 32); LHWMG (Sussex, 32); Pooh Bear (Essex, 31); Dai Jones (Kent, 30); Hairy Gibbon (Cheshire, 30); Longlegs (Kent, 30); Big6.1 (Essex, 30); Ian Dodds (Merseyside, 30); Big-G (Hants, 28); Runner Martin (Bucks, 28); Bunions (Essex, 27); 40% badger (Essex, 25); Ian Lang (Hants, 25); RichK . (Gloucs, 25); Straycelt (Monmouthshire, 24); RichardW (Herts, 24); Simon boast (Wilts, 24); RFJ (Oxon, 23); Nuts11 (Kent, 23); The New Improved Mr Phil (Wales, 23); Shorty25 (N Yorks, 23); Oft (Wales, 22); and Hammerite (Derbys, 22)

Add your rating; see more ratings...

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.

Previous article
RW Pocket Race Guide - March
Next article
RW Pocket Race Guide - January

races of the year, races of year, racing misc

Discuss this article

Right, for starters....FLM, always top of the RW editor's poll, but it's always way down on the runner's poll.

Who is right?

By the way, I have a vested interest in believing that the runner's poll is 'better' since two of my races (Knacker Cracker - 50th - and Midsummer Munro -32nd) are present in the runner's poll. (Midsummer Munro was ranked 87th on the editor's poll, while the Knacker Cracker was absent on the editor's poll).
Posted: 13/01/2006 at 13:17

Also, either standards are improving, or runners are becoming more generous with their ratings:

To get into the top 20 races of 2004, you had to have an overall rating of 90%. To get into the top 20 races of 2005, you had to have an overall rating of 95%.

If the Bookham 10k, 19 February 2006, was in the top 100 runner's poll for 2006, I'd be chuffed...but it seems that today to get into the higher reaches of the poll you have to have perfect organisation, world-class goodie bag, amazing scenery, a really good gimmick (race the train, Tough Guy etc), and do it all for free....
Posted: 13/01/2006 at 13:26

Sorry to hog the first three posts on this thread, but bear with me....

It is also instructive to have a look at the lower reaches of the list, to see who is bottom, and to find out why they were bottom of the list. And very last in the list is......VERY interesting.
Posted: 13/01/2006 at 13:37


Posted: 13/01/2006 at 13:48

why is brampton bottom? what's wrong with it?
Posted: 13/01/2006 at 19:21

it's a better race than the Great North Run, hands down.....
Posted: 13/01/2006 at 19:23

I managed to do three races last year and they were very different.

Haweswater half marathon, fantastic scenery great runners encouraging each other and a good experience. Even the kids enjoyed watching this one.

London marathon which was terrible, did not enjoy it at all. Maybe I am getting too slow and was nearer the back than the first time I did it. Far too many Ipods and I didn't find any team spirit.

Loch Ness marathon, very good, my time was not too hot but there were runners there who were prepared to help each other.

Maybe the difference between the editor and the runners is the feeling from within the race and the exposure from the outside. Best race I ever did was a 3 mile fell race in Yorkshire, friendly at one end and competitive at the front. Everyone got together at the end for a pint and a chat about the race etc, and there were only about 50 people in the whole event.

Posted: 20/01/2006 at 10:29

"it seems that today to get into the higher reaches of the poll you have to have perfect organisation, world-class goodie bag, amazing scenery, a really good gimmick (race the train, Tough Guy etc), and do it all for free...."

seems about right to me. What's wrong with that? Why would a race with crap organisation, no goodie bag, run on an industrial estate, and bloody expensive, get into the top of the rankings?
Posted: 20/01/2006 at 10:40

Er...Brampton wasn't bottom in the list I was looking at - it was the RW 10k 'organised' at the Sandown Triathlon show.
Posted: 20/01/2006 at 12:17

I think it shows how race organisation is improving and I hope it'll prompt the people who organise the lower rated races to improve.

Personally I think the runner's poll more accurately reflects how good races are. Just as you can't rate a car until you've driven it so you can't rate a race until you've run it.
Posted: 20/01/2006 at 12:41

Interesting that Runners World is heavily promoting the British 10k Race,see flashing advert on rhs of web page. I believe that last years race is the lowest ranked race ever, has an organiser who is supposedly paranoid threatening legal action on anyone who complains and is the only race I know that has now got a "complaints" web site.
Posted: 20/01/2006 at 18:01

If you ran a club and organised a race couldnt you just get all you memebers to give 100% feedback to get it rated highly. You wouldnt even have to do the race would you?
The high rating might help with the numbers entering for the following year
Posted: 22/01/2006 at 16:25

Here's a thought: How about trying to run all (or as many as humanly possible of) the top 100 races in the country, one each weekend, with the top-ranked race on each weekend being the one you enter (doing Saturday and Sunday only if you are a bit of a nutter). You'd certainly clock the miles (in your car as well as in your running shoes), and have a lot of material for a cracking book....

Who's game (and where's my 10%)?
Posted: 26/01/2006 at 12:37

By the way, Piers, I don't think that it is RW which is hevily promoting the British 10k race - it's a paid advertisement from the race organisers. It actually got a reasonable slagging in the magazine.
Posted: 26/01/2006 at 12:40

Not sure if this is the right place to raise this - but the 2005 ratings include the scores for 2004 when the races were held at the end of December.

I confess that "our" race will do much better with the right score in place - but we do value the feedback and our position in the table.

We tried hard to listen to the feedback we got in 2004 and made changes to 2005. And honestly, without the forum feedback, we wouldn't have known exactly what to change. As a for instance, in '04 we didn't get a very good "beginner friendly" rating. I was stunned by this - but once we'd talked to a few people we understood what the problems were and we didn't make the same mistakes in '05.

I'll stop waffling now - but thanks to all the people who bothered to give us feedback. Roll on '06 - we'll try and do better again!

Posted: 15/02/2006 at 12:40


Sorry, which was your race?

I second that thought: knowing what the runners like (and dislike) via a third party is extremely useful - they won't necessarily say it to your face!

I think that the increasing scores do actually show that race organisers are putting on better (more 'professional') races, with more features.

I agree that race 'scores' can sometimes include ratings from incorrect years, and it's a situation that RW needs to address. (For example, the Bookham 10k, which has yet to be run for the first time - 19 Feb 06 - already has a rating, quite a good one, since its RW online entry system was based on the Knacker Cracker. As the Americans say, 'Go figure.'
Posted: 15/02/2006 at 13:34

Runners list has got to be the best Dr Rob. Looking at that this, the top races seem far more attractive to me as a runner than the RW defined list.

Having said that, the ratings are useful to a certain extent but are not always a true reflection of the whole thing. Its based to a certain extent on subjectivity and in some cases amazes me. For example, the people who run an urban 10k and then grump about the scenery!

Posted: 15/02/2006 at 13:59

Our race is the Banks & Taylor Boxing Day Run - we're only small (170 finishers), but we like to think we're perfectly formed! We work hard at making it light hearted, but we also try and make sure the organisation is as good as it needs to be.

The race that Blue Racoon ran in Yorkshire sounds very similar - we even gave people the beer for finishing!

Actually it occurred to me that the RW people might have simply used the scores that they ran for the January '06 article on top races. Inevitably they wouldn't have had chance to wait till the end of the year given the copy deadlines.

Posted: 15/02/2006 at 14:01

Sorry forgot to say something .... I don't think people mind giving feedback if you ask the right way, it's just at the end of the race there's a lot going on for the ogranising team and you don't have time to ask.

We got a low % score on beginner friendly, then we asked the forumites to explain what they meant so we knew what the specific issues were. (For info - we didn't give real beginners somewhere to go to ask basic questions - like "Where do I wear my number?" in '05 we had a beginners welcome desk manned by some freindly people from the local running club).

Part of it is being open to what people say to you - if you dismiss criticism then you won't get feedback. If you say thanks then people respond.
Posted: 15/02/2006 at 14:07

Dil,- Beginner's Welcome desk - excellent idea. I'll have it! My bro' lives near Tankersley - I'll come and run your race if I ever have the chance.

I think tht they did use the real scores for all races for 2005: it was not until 13 January that the article came out on the RW web site.

My Knacker Cracker race is on 1 January: the rating on this top 100 is for the race on 1 January 2005, over a year before the listing came out. Our rating for the Knacker Cracker on 1 January 2006 will come out in January 2007, after the running of the next race!
Posted: 15/02/2006 at 15:08

Dr Robert,

I double checked - I think RW HAS made a mistake. The 2005 ratings include races from December 2004 to November 2005. No ratings for December 2005 were included.

I hope they'll re-do the tables!
Posted: 20/02/2006 at 12:56

I was having a quick chat to the boss of RW on-line this morning, and he was puzzled as to why this thread didn't have more contributors. It is a major source of interest. Perhaps those race-organisers who have read the list are just shy?

I'll draw his attention to the apparent ommission...we demand justice!
Posted: 20/02/2006 at 14:39

I think one of the reasons is that it's so hard to find. Try getting someone who doesn't know where it is to find it - almost impossible. I'm sure you'd get more response if it wasn't so hard to find.

I think access to this should be via a "tab" on the events page.

If you really wanted to promote it, why not make the "event search" tool inlcude a "rating more than" field. Now that would get race organiser's notice!
Posted: 20/02/2006 at 15:31

He he he: wry smile, Lol. You're durn tootin right it would!
Posted: 20/02/2006 at 15:56

Dr Robert - did you get any response from the editor? I've tried e-mailing him, but haven't heard anything.
Posted: 03/03/2006 at 07:28

Nothing...they can be quite busy - there's two of them sorting out this enormous web site.

What would we do differentyly if we were going to do this?
Posted: 03/03/2006 at 09:17

You mean other than including all the races from 2005 in the 2005 listing?!?

Do you have an e-mail address that works?


Posted: 04/03/2006 at 15:32
Posted: 06/03/2006 at 10:05

Our North Downs Down Run is rated 4th for RW readers (thank you very much) whilst 27th for RW We are very honoured to be rated so highly !!! .

Posted: 08/03/2006 at 16:17

King XC...what's your web address, I must check you out!

Why the big discrepancy? Do the runners know something that the RW editors don't?

Personally, I think that RW should scrap the editors poll, and leave it up to the runners (or publish their ratings side-byside with the runners....and invite comment).

They also need to make the method of calculation of the 'overall' mark more transparent (often it doesn't have any relation to the other marks given by the runners).

And yes, if the London Marathon is the 10th or 11th best race in the UK, let it be so!
Posted: 08/03/2006 at 16:55

I'd also like to see a 'most-highly rated races of the year so far' listing.... they have the technology...they can (re)build it...
Posted: 08/03/2006 at 16:56

our site address is

I would like to see the runners poll published alongside the editors poll. Can appreciate the different criteria and this could be highlighted

Importantly the runners poll highlights that the biggest is not necessary the most
enjoyable for all

Posted: 13/03/2006 at 11:00

".....puzzled as to why this thread didn't have more contributors...." ".... major source of interest...."

I'm a 20+ race a year type, and my decisions are never based on any rankings system. They are based on: Location; what distance I am currently "in to"; and whether or not the family has got anything else planned that weekend. Also I like to try races that I haven't tried.

Soon, I'll be basing it on price too. For example, I can see why the Abingdon marathon is i.r.o. 20 quid as that's a lot of road to police for a sub-1000 entry race, but 26 quid for the great south run, for closing small parts of southsea, with 18000 (whatever) runners is a p ss take! I do find I make a point of entering some local races that are still at the 6 quid mark, even if I'm not race fit for them, because they deserve local support.
Posted: 13/03/2006 at 15:26

Is that a Duran Duran album cover?

You speak the truth re: race pricing. Some organisers certainly take the mickey. Personally I charge around £25 for my races (Knacker Cracker and Midsummer Munro) to allow me to put together a nice goody bag, make contributions to National Trust (whose ground we run on), medics and so on, and still have around £10 per runner to give to the race charity. As organisers, Ashtead Running Group takes nothing at all from the race. Why should we?

A race with 18,000 runners that raises even net £3/runner and doesn't give it to charity is being plain cheeky (and deserves competition from worthy races).
Posted: 16/03/2006 at 11:35

I think the Readers' list could be padded by members/friends of the organising club, and the Magazine's list could be padded by "who's jollied up with whom" behind the scenes, so both lists should be taken with a pinch of salt.

As regards why this thread isn't more active, that's probably down to the fact that the top 100 lists disappeared quite quickly from prominence, and are actually quite difficult to find on the site now - which is strange - I would've thought a link on the main Events page would be sensible...?
Posted: 20/03/2006 at 16:10

...err... actually I just noticed that there IS a link on the main events page <doh_smiley>, but it's in very small print near the bottom - I think more prominence would be sensible.
Posted: 20/03/2006 at 16:16

Certainly for the North Downs Run the votes in the readers list were all from runners not associated to either the organisers or the organising running club -nor do we do have any contacts at RW ....

Obvioulsy this might not be the case with all races

Posted: 27/03/2006 at 14:11

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.