Readers' Races of the Year 2008

The best British races of the last year - as voted by you, the runners who ran them

Posted: 26 January 2009

Your Number One: Midsummer Munro Half-Marathon

Last year, you raced all over the UK in huge numbers, then came online in equally large numbers to rave (or rant!) about it. Now, after some serious number-crunching, we can reveal our official Readers' Races of the Year 2008.

From hills to fells, from roads to rough trails, our charts showcase the cream of the crop, the races that started a buzz in UK running circles last year.

Pounding city streets in a cast of thousands, or throwing yourself into muddy chaos - whatever drives you to pull on your trainers, you'll be inspired by the top-class races begging to be added to your 2009 racing calendar.

The ratings

As usual, we’ve got not one, but several lists to get your teeth stuck into:

The raters

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 20 raters for 2008:

Duane Daugherty 3 (Derbyshire, 46 ratings); SlowlybutShirley (Buckinghamshire, 39); Michael Tinker (Lancashire, 32); Grecian 2000 (Bedfordshire, 30); Chris Smith (Lincolnshire, 30); Justin Showell (Surrey, 29); Mr.K. (Hampshire, 29); Philip Jackson (Worcestershire, 28); got to run (Hampshire, 28); Nozzer06 (Shropshire, 27); Big-G (Hampshire, 27); Adrian Dyke (Dorset, 26); Mick F (Cheshire, 26); RichardW (Hertfordshire, 26); Karen T (West Yorkshire, 25); JJAY (Gloucestershire, 23); Jenny Kitchen 2 (Berkshire, 22); Jonathan Weedon (Wiltshire, 21); Grayster H (Hampshire, 21); Col! (Surrey, 21).

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.

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Pocket Race Guide - February
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Readers' Top 50 Races 2008: 7-14 Votes

races of the year

Discuss this article

Fascinating stuff: the difference between first and fifth in most cases is three or four 80% ratings instead of 100% ratings - there's a lot of luck in these placings!

Very pleased to see that RW has left the ratings up to the runners (the voting system is now well-enough developed so that it seems to give a reasonable result), rather than publishing its own 'races of the year.'

The fact that so many brilliant races didn't make it past 50 votes (Northumberland Coastal Run, Grizzly, Race the Train, Rough'n'Tumble, Helvellyn 15k, Steyning Stinger, Yorkshireman etc etc) should be a clarion call to all race directors to get runners to vote!

What would the list have looked like if all races over a certain number of votes (15?) have been ranked alongside each other? This is a list that RW has published in the past - I'd love to see it again.

The other part of the list that is 'instructive' is the lower-most reaches - the races that were disasters - race directors can learn a lot from these race (ie how not to organise a run). This part of the list is missing this year - which was the lowest rated race of the year? Please, RW, tell us!
Posted: 27/01/2009 at 10:24

I'd guess that the lowest rated races get more ratings than the best ones.  Folks always like to register their disapproval.
Posted: 27/01/2009 at 11:24

The lowest rated race in 2007 was apparently organised by some students in London (to generate beer money?), and participants commented that they were amazed to find that runners finally approached the finish line from both directions. Now that takes some disorganisation!
Posted: 27/01/2009 at 11:46

Anyway, Dr Rob, we of the Surrey Hills bow down in awe at your race organisation prowess.  You are a Legend!  Congratulations on all the great feedback for Trionium races, and the top spot for the Munro.

Wonder what the ratings for the 'Picnic' are going to look like... 

Posted: 27/01/2009 at 12:38


Just completed a little analysis of putting all the races with over 15 votes into one spreadsheet and ordering them... here goes....

Position Overall WDA Race Date Ratings Category
1 100 100 Ullswater 12K, Cumbria Nov-02 29 25-49
2 100 99 Puma Garburn 24K, Cumbria May-31 40 25-49
3 99 100 Mull of Kintyre Half-Marathon, Argyll and Bute May-25 33 25-49
4 99 99 Midsummer Munro Half-Marathon, Surrey Jun-21 58 50+
5 99 97 North Downs 30K, Kent Jun-15 82 50+
6 99 94 Helvellyn 15K, Cumbria Nov-01 17 15-24
7 98 100 Coniston 14, Cumbria Apr-05 25 25-49
8 98 100 Saab Salomon Turbo X Mugdock, Glasgow Oct-04 22 15-24
9 98 99 Northumberland Coastal Run 14, Northumberland Jul-20 47 25-49
10 98 99 Puma Hawkshead 15K, Cumbria Apr-19 56 50+
11 98 99 New Year Box Hill Knacker Cracker 10K, Surrey Jan-01 54 50+
12 98 96 The Easy Runner Sodbury Slog 9.5, Bristol Nov-11 52 50+
13 98 95 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, Highland Oct-05 42 25-49
14 97 100 Offas Orror 20K, Monmouthshire Apr-27 15 15-24
15 97 98 Steyning Stinger Marathon, Sussex Mar-02 21 15-24
16 97 96 Grizzly & Cub Run, Devon Mar-09 27 25-49
17 97 95 Beachy Head Marathon, Sussex Oct-25 52 50+
18 97 95 Stadium Runners’ Woodland Challenge 6, Huddersfield Oct-12 54 50+
19 97 95 Eyam Half-Marathon, Derbyshire May-18 20 15-24
20 97 93 Flora London Marathon, London Apr-13 230 50+
21 96 100 Devil’s Chimney Chase, Gloucestershire Jul-19 18 15-24
22 96 100 Forth Road Bridge Pitreavie 10K. Fife Aug-10 17 15-24
23 96 100 Merthyr Mawr Christmas Pudding Challenge 10K, Glamorgan Dec-14 17 15-24
24 96 100 High Legh ‘Moffat Memorial’ 10K, Cheshire Feb-24 22 15-24
25 96 100 Bramhall Park parkrun 5K, Cheshire Every Saturday 15 15-24
26 96 98 Hogweed Hilly Half, South Gloucestershire Mar-30 51 50+
27 96 96 Race the Train. Gwynedd Aug-16 35 25-49
28 96 96 Royal Parks Half-Marathon, London Oct-12 84 50+
29 96 94 Brathay Windermere Marathon, Cumbria May-18 78 50+
30 96 94 The Great Langdale Christmas 10K, Cumbria Dec-13 17 15-24
31 96 92 Snowdonia Marathon, Wales Oct-25 77 50+
32 95 98 Guy Fawkes 10, North Yorkshire Nov-02 63 50+
33 95 98 St Neots Riverside Half-Marathon, Cambridgeshire Nov-16 55 50+
34 95 97 Leith Hill Half-Marathon, Surrey Mar-09 72 50+
35 95 96 Rough ‘n’ Tumble 10, Wiltshire Jan-13 40 25-49
36 95 86 Meon Valley Plod 19.5, Hampshire Feb-17 39 25-49
37 94 100 The Harvel 5, Kent Jun-07 25 25-49
38 94 100 Eridge Park 10, Kent Sep-14 39 25-49
39 94 100 Cassidy Lady Godiva Half-Marathon, West Midlands Oct-19 37 25-49
40 94 100 Edwinstowe Christmas 10K, Nottinghamshire Dec-07 18 15-24
41 94 100 Penny Lane Striders 10K, Merseyside Jun-22 18 15-24
42 94 100 Rotary Club of Kenilworth Two Castles 10K, Warwickshire Jun-08 19 15-24
43 94 100 Fitness First Bournemouth Bay Run 10K, Dorset Mar-30 19 15-24
44 94 100 Suicide Six(ish), West Midlands Nov-16 19 15-24
45 94 98 Whipsnade Zoo 10K, Bedfordshire Jun-01 32 25-49
46 94 98 Buntingford Brewery (Pirton) Boxing Day 3.2 Dec-26 50 25-49
47 94 96 Rhayader ‘Round the Lakes’ 20 , Powys Mar-15 27 25-49
48 94 94 Salomon South Downs Marathon, West Sussex Jun-14 61 50+
49 94 94 Arundel Castle 10K, Sussex Aug-31 17 15-24

Posted: 27/01/2009 at 12:54

50 94 92 Halstead & Essex Marathon, Essex May-11 202 50+

If anyone is interested, they can download the full list (of 150 races) at (if RW wants to publish the list, then I'll take that list down...)

Most interesting....this is the list of races that you must do before you die!

Anyone want to plot these on a map? Note very strong concentrations of excellent races in Cumbria!
Posted: 27/01/2009 at 13:01

Congratuations Dr Robert , a worthy top spot  !!!   and good to see so many multi-terrain races so well supported.    Hope to enter the Midsummer Munro in 2009

Also whilst it did not score so highly , The Eridge 10 (Tunbridge Wells) is another great multi terrain run

Best regards

North Downs Run  Race Director

Posted: 28/01/2009 at 09:46

Thanks for the kind words...You'll be very welcome at the Munro - we should compare notes!

Another race to watch out for is the 'Doyen of the Downs' which got fizzingly good reviews from runners. If it can get enough votes, it'll be in the top 50 next year, for sure.
Posted: 28/01/2009 at 13:15

Ermm .............. what is the significance of the award, amongst other things, of a carrot at the New Year Box Hill Knacker Cracker, Dr Robert?   I've been trying to figure this out but am not getting anywhere, sadly. 

Arundel Castle 10k is a tough, hilly but totally brilliant race by the way, on looking at your list, with views to die for.

Posted: 29/01/2009 at 17:52

A carrot? Nice and crunchy! if you've never had a carrot after a race, you've never lived!

I did a triathlon in France which had prunes on offer at the end. Trés bien!
Posted: 30/01/2009 at 10:01

Well done to everybody associated with any race that appears on this list - as observed at the start, all worthy events with little in overall quality of experience, it seems (I haven't done them all so cannot comment definitively), to choose between them.

When observing the high concentration of excellent runs in Cumbria, it's worthwhile noting that four of the top ten (Ullswater, Garburn, Helvellyn and Hawkshead Trails) are professionnally organised by the same people.  I loved all of those races, have done them all more than once and am signed up to do them all again.  It's fair to say that the organisers have found a 'winning formula' based around superb scenery, tough trails and, most importantly, an exceptional degree of inclusivity that works and which they adhere to.  There were two other races in the series last year that suffered badly as a consequence of the weather - I know that lessons have been learned and I expect them to appear high on the ratings again next year.

It's also interesting to note just how many of these races are at least in part off-road or otherwise held in particularly scenic locations.  Obviously scenery is one of the criteria used to rate the races but is it having a disproportionate influence?  After all, home location is one of the few aspects that race organisers cannot influence - maybe the time has come to give greater weight to the 'organisation' score thereby promoting those well managed races that currently miss out on the basis of factors that are within their control? 

Posted: 30/01/2009 at 12:59

Did the prunes help you run faster, Dr Robert??    
Posted: 30/01/2009 at 18:49

is this a race director love-in if so can I throw my car keys in the pot???

well done Dr Robert Im visiting T' North this year and hope to take in some races

My race the Poole 10k made the top 100 just

everyone complains about the heat

weeeeellll its 2pm on the first sunday in June at the Seaside...... heat what a shock hahaha

Posted: 01/02/2009 at 00:42

We did have a discussion on the 'worst race of the year' ....

Sounds like a doozy!
Posted: 10/11/2009 at 13:27

oh dear doesnt sound very promising does it hahaha glad it wasnt my race
Posted: 10/11/2009 at 14:13

Cannot understand why both Hastings Events are not on the Dr's. List. The December Hastings 100th Anniversary Marathon was a Fantastic Success,and unique as a 'one off'. Turned out to be the 2nd Biggest Marathon in England for 2008.

Just come out a new DVD of the Marathon. Good christmas present!

The Hastings Half Marathon in March,celebrated its 25th Anniversary this year.Still as popular as ever.

Posted: 10/11/2009 at 15:07

I've run 4 of that top 50 this year, and one more in other years.   I wonder how much the statistics are affected by the PB potential category: non-standard distances offer fantastic PB potential, whereas scenic (=hilly) races tend not to be quick - witness the number of PWs set at Beachy Head this year (myself included).
Posted: 10/11/2009 at 18:23

Dr Robert, great link to "the worst race of the year" reviews.  My favourite comment was;

"Do not give them free advertising - burn your tshirts!!"

Posted: 10/11/2009 at 20:30

Hi Dr Rob,

I so regret not doing the Leatherhead 10k on Sunday! I did the "doozy" (worst race of the year) discussed above. What a shambles it was! I think it is evident that Energized Sports are not runners. I will be using my Energized t-shirt to clean the car this weekend!

Posted: 10/11/2009 at 21:41

By my reckoning, the Eridge 10 is the top rated race in the UK in 2009. Mull of Kintyre Marathon was in the top three, and the Stadium Runners was also one of the top rated races. Well done to all three!

Spud - RW counts all races to the end of December (it goes to press on its February issue, which includes the 'Races of the year' feature, at the start of December), so the 25th Hastings (Dec 2008) would be counted in their 'Races of 2009'.

Posted: 01/12/2009 at 22:15

For anyone who wants to plan their running in 2010, the top 25 rated races in 2009 (to the start of December) were... in order...

Eridge Park 10m

Stadium Runners 6m MoK marathon North Downs 30k Knacker Cracker 10k Hawkshead 15k Leith Hill Half Picnic mara Hogweed half St Neots half Midsummer Munro Snowdonia mara FLM Saab Sal TurboX HellRunner South Greensand mara Beachy Head Hellrunner North Saab Sal TurboX Bordon 10m Loch Ness mara Ashtead 10k Halstead mara Badger half Royal Parks half
Posted: 04/12/2009 at 13:00

Sorry, MoK marathon is the Mull of Kintyre Marathon.

For clarity: Stadium Runners 6m, Mull of Kintyre marathon, North Downs 30k, Knacker Cracker 10k, Hawkshead 15k, Leith Hill Half, Picnic mara, Hogweed half, St Neots half, Midsummer Munro, Snowdonia mara, Flora London Marathon, Saab Sal TurboX, HellRunner South, Greensand mara, Beachy Head, Hellrunner North, Saab Sal TurboX Bordon 10m, Loch Ness mara, Ashtead 10k, Halstead mara, Badger half, Royal Parks half.

Posted: 04/12/2009 at 13:03

D'oh! Re-reading this (planning to do as many of the top races as I can next year), I noticed that it is not clear in my immediate previous post that the Eridge Park 10m was/is rated 1 - then Stadium Runners etc. 
Posted: 13/12/2009 at 11:33

Once published (RW Feb 2010) there a few surprises in there...Chippenham half marathon, Friends of Mick'n'Phil half marathon, Ashby 20, Terminator 11 and one or two others.

 I think I'll leave it to RW next time!

Posted: 04/01/2010 at 13:31

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