Readers' Top 10 UK Races: Beginner-Friendliness

The most beginner-friendly British races of 2009 - as voted by you, the runners who ran them


Posted: 25 February 2010

High Legh 10K

1. High Legh "Moffat Memorial" 10K

Where? Cheshire When? February

The community atmosphere is just part of the package that makes the High Legh "Moffat Memorial" 10K so popular. Offering refreshments and a children's play area, the race caters for spectators of all ages - perfect if you're bringing a formidable support crew to your first race.
The route starts and finishes at the local school before heading out onto wide country lanes to  wind through the town's beautiful surrounds. Slick organisation, homemade cakes and a bulging goody bag all help first-time runners feel suitably pampered.

"This is definitely one of the most enjoyable 10Ks I've done. I was a bit daunted by the small number of entrants but it proved to be so much better than some mass-participation events.  Fantastic race, great tea and cakes!" ian&eve

Reader Reviews

2. Liverpool Santa Dash 5K

Where? Liverpool When? December

The biggest run of its kind in the UK, the Liverpool Santa Dash is a tour of Liverpool city centre with a difference. The flat road course kicks off in the shadow of the historic buildings along the Liverpool waterfront before exploring the city centre in style, but most runners head to the meet for the festive atmosphere whipped up by thousands of runners kitted out as Father Christmas. Whether the balance tips towards traditional red or Evertonian blue Santa suits, the race is always a sight to behold.

"Absolutely fantastic! This was my second time running this race and it just gets better. An event for the whole family (pets included). What better way to get into the festive spirit?! Roll on next year!" Jean Gilmour

Reader Reviews

3. Friends of Mick'n'Phil Half-Marathon

Where? Warwickshire When? March

Since they started racing in 2002, father-and-son team Mick'n'Phil have inspired hundreds of runners around Britain’s races. But the cost of travelling the country to compete threatened to put a stop to their inspirational performance - until the running community came to the rescue. With a little help from our sister site fetcheveryone.com, 350 runners lined up to support the duo in their very own charity half-marathon. The road course took in the lads' usual stomping ground, and the friendly atmosphere made this race one of the most welcoming events on last year’s running calendar.

"Excellent organisation, an amazing atmosphere, encouraging marshals and a friendly field made this race the best. An incredible event for two inspirational men!" AnnieH

Reader Reviews

London Santa Run

4. London Santa Run

Where? London When? December

Head to South London's Battersea Park for a riverside run with added festive spirit. The ever-popular London Santa Run exploits the park's pretty wintertime crispness with a six-kilometre course winding around quiet, flat paths. The race's pretty setting - and the sight of hundreds of Santas on the run - is enough to put a smile on even the most jaded runner's face. And whether you're a Santa purist, or one of the many who further embellish their costumes, you're sure to have fun while raising money for winter sports charity Disability Snowsport.

"This is a great little race - well-organised and a cracking atmosphere, guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. It's definitely one to do for the fun and festivities, and for raising money for a good cause." Wease

Reader Reviews | Enter 2010 Race

Bupa Great Manchester 10K

5. Bupa Great Manchester Run 10K

Where? Manchester When? May

The Bupa Great Manchester Run 10K makes for a great introduction to racing. Not only is the organisation as slick as you'd expect from a Great Run event, but the course is a beginner's dream -  flat, traffic-free and lined with cheering crowds. There's not a hill in sight, so you can get on with soaking up the atmosphere of this bustling city-centre race. You'll also be amply rewarded for your endeavours with a medal, T-shirt and well-stuffed goody bag.

"My first 10K and it has converted me from a non-runner. The organisation was amazingly efficient and I felt welcome even as a plodding beginner. Will be back but hopefully without the short walking breaks next year!" Anne Martin

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

6. Beaverbrooks Blackpool 10K

Where? Lancashire When? May

Over the past 27 years, this coastal charity run has raised more than £1 million for local causes and, judging by its position in these rankings, it continues to grow year on year. Numerous factors conspire to make it a top-notch first race. Chief among them is the top welcome the city lays on for the runners - hordes of fancy-dress entrants (from penguins to bumblebees) can expect to find themselves cheered on by the extremely vocal crowds lining the roads. And thanks to the seriously flat road course along Blackpool’s iconic seafront and promenade, you’ll be able to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere.

"A very good, very popular "fun run" that caters for runners of all abilities. Excellent opportunity for a quick time if you can get a decent start." Bezza

Reader Reviews

7. Bupa London 10,000

Where? London When? May

The BUPA London 10,000 is the kind of race that'll make you feel like a star. Organised by the team behind the London Marathon - and incorporating stretches of the course likely to be used for the 2012 Olympic Marathons - this mass-participation race has an unbeatable atmosphere. It takes runners on a whistlestop tour of London’s most iconic sights – from the historic Leadenhall Market via St Pauls, the Embankment and the London Eye before turning onto a crowd-lined Mall for an epic finish in front of Buckingham Palace. The course is fast, too – last year, Mo Farah broke the British 10K road record to win the second staging of the race.

"An absolutely fantastic race for everyone - this is definitely one to put on your to-do list and is an easier way of running the streets of London without having to enter the London Marathon. The scenery is fantastic and the spectators carry you around this flat course." Essex-Tiger

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

8. Jane Tomlinson's Run For All York 10K

Where? York When? August

Around 4,000 runners took part in the inaugural York 10K – another popular addition to the Jane Tomlinson 'Run For All' series. With an inclusive, carnival atmosphere (perfect for nervous newbies) the series really lives up to its "Run for All" billing whether you fancy running, walking, wheeling or jogging around the course. The route also makes the most of its historic location - taking in the glorious riverside and landmarks liberally scattered around the city centre.

"Superb, life-affirming event! I loved this one - it's just got to be one of the best races I have ever done. Excellent organisation, great atmosphere and a fantastic route. I shall certainly be back next year!" Philip Jackson

Reader Reviews

9. Bupa Great South Run 10

Where? Portsmouth When? October

With around 21,000 runners converging on Portsmouth every year, the Bupa Great South Run is arguably Europe's leading 10-mile road race. It's the perfect opportunity to enjoy racing by the seaside, and on a pancake-flat course too. There's plenty to boost flagging spirits as you reach the final seafront stretch - the sight of HMS Victory and the Spinnaker Tower, as well as noisy support from the crowds lining the course. 

"A very special race in a special town. So far this race is second to none - the organisation is superb, tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters line the course, and tens of thousands are raised for worthy causes." Simon McMorran

Reader Reviews | 2010 Race Details

10. Jane Tomlinson's Run  For All Leeds 10K

Where? Leeds When? June

Join in the party at the Jane Tomlinson's Run For All Leeds 10K for a crowd-lined tour of city-centre landmarks - you'll pass City Square, Corn Exchange, Town Hall, Library, Vicar Lane and the Headrow. Last year's winner crossed the line in 30.51, but the Leeds 10K offers an equally warm welcome to runners, joggers and walkers. Indeed, its wide range of abilities only enhances the buzzing atmosphere for which it is famed. With 11,000 runners - and tens of thousands of spectators lining the out-and-back course to cheer them on - the Leeds 10K is a big-hearted celebration and the whole city's invited.

"A fantastic event that makes you smile from start to finish! I will definitely race this again and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a great event with fantastic organisation and vocal supporters!" Jogger41

Reader Reviews

How the results were calculated

This list was calculated using 2009 race ratings given by respondents on www.runnersworld.co.uk after they took part in the races. We worked out the average of the 'Beginner-friendliness' rating runners gave races, to arrive at a figure between 0 and 100%, allowing us to rank them. NB: We have only included races with at least 25 responses and where a race appeared on more than one Top 10 chart, it was only included in the chart where it had the highest ranking.


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Discuss this article

This is a very helpful site,for beginners,I was pleasantly suprised & will be signing up for probably the both of the Jane Tomlinson 10k runs,in my hometown ( & Jane's) Leeds & York.

As a local girl,I followed her progress,on the local & national tv channels,a truly remarkable & determined woman,who despite all the odds,bravely battled on to the end,it puts into perspective a few hicups we ALL have in life & what really counts.It makes you kick your own "butt",when we feel sorry for ourselves & are being selfish,to go & get out there & do something about life's little hurdles,if it's not physical,psychological or life threatening it's a case of stop "whingeing" & make amends.

Jane may have gone but she DEFINITELY WON'T BE FORGOTTEN,a credit to all of us & an inspiration to ALL  runners alike.


Posted: 02/03/2010 at 16:42

Hmm, so the BUPA great South run is in York in August!  I must have been in a different event in Southsea last October.  Or perhaps the winter storms have blown Victory a few hudred miles North.  Someone should tell the second Sea Lord where his flagship has got to.

I can't talk, though.  Made the same mistake more than once when reusing document.


Posted: 25/03/2010 at 10:01

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