Readers' Top 10 UK Races: PB Potential

The most PB-friendly British races of 2008 - as voted by you, the runners who ran them


Posted: 26 March 2009
by Alice Palmer

1. Brass Monkey Half-Marathon
Where: Yorkshire When: January, 2010 date tbc

Beat the crowds to get a place on this popular half-marathon and you might just get a PB into the bargain. Staged in January before the spring half-marathon season kicks in, the Brass Monkey Half-Marathon is a ticket to your first PB of the year.

Described by one runner as "fast, fun and freezing", the Brass Monkey’s flatter-than-flat rural road course should get most runners in under the 2:45 cut-off.

Its rural route makes a nice change from big and brash city-centre half-marathons, but entrants won’t be plodding lonely roads alone, as you’ll be part of the Brass Monkey’s unbeatably friendly 1,200-strong field, joined of course by many supporters along the route..


2. Dorney Dash 10K
Asthma UK 10K

Windsor 10K series
*
Where: Berkshire When: throughout the year

Head to 2012 Olympics venue Dorney Lake and its ultra-flat parkland for a phalanx of PB-crushing races. With peaceful scenery and lakeside views, it’s the perfect location for putting your PBs to the test around Dorney’s parkland paths.

The Dorney Dash 10K is a veteran fixture and has been sending satisfied entrants home happy with PBs for over 25 years. Meanwhile, the Asthma UK 10K makes for an action-packed Easter weekend - runners can also opt for the 2 X 5K relay, and children have their own chance to shine in the 2K race. Last but by no means least, the regular Windsor 10Ks put on by F3 Events offer you the chance to help raise money for children with cancer while also putting a dent in your 10K PB.


3. Victory 5
Where: Hampshire When: December, 2009 tbc

This veteran race, which was first staged just after World War II, has attracted a fast field in search of faster times ever since. With relatively few other five-mile races on offer, the Victory 5 is the perfect opportunity to put a dent in your PB over the distance.

The fast and flat single-lap course starts in the stadium before heading out along the sea front, towards the scenic setting of computer company IBM's estate. After a loop of the lake in IBM’s grounds, runners head back for a satisfying stadium finish, and hopefully a record time to go with it.


4. White Horse Half-Marathon
Where: Oxfordshire When: April 5

Enjoy a tour of the peaceful country roads and the picturesque villages of the Vale of White Horse. A couple of long hills aside, the runners will relish the abundant PB potential of this flat and very fast road route.

The White Horse Half-Marathon has been running for nearly 30 years, and its loyal band of fans return year on year for another shot at their PB over 13.1 miles. As a result, the race has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere with new entrants welcomed into the fold.

The hundreds-strong field is small enough to avoid the crowd problems of busier races, but not so sparse that runners are left on their own for long stretches.


5. Abingdon Marathon
Where: Oxfordshire When: October 18

Book early to join the growing band of loyal forumite fans of this much-loved autumn marathon. With a road course so flat it could have been devised with a spirit level, the Abingdon Marathon is the perfect test of your marathon fitness and a chance to make huge inroads into a hard-won PB.

With a 1,000-strong field, the Abingdon Marathon is perfectly sized – big enough to keep you company but small enough not to get under your feet.

The race’s two-lap route starts through Abingdon’s medieval town centre, passing the town's 1,000-year-old St Helen's Church before stretching out along the Thames and weaving through some peaceful country villages. The return to urban scenery heralds the marathon’s track finish at Tilsley Park.


6. Admiral Swansea Bay 10K
Where: Swansea When: September, 2009 date tbc

Enjoy the beautiful bayside views while smashing your 10K PB over this fast, flat and scenic course. The flatter-than-flat out-and-back road route follows the coast out of Swansea city centre and along the bay, with beautiful sea views.

If you don’t like running first thing in the morning, take advantage of this race’s unusual lunchtime start to wallop your 10K PB.

It’s a big race, bustling with 3,500 runners, and a great atmosphere courtesy of friendly fellow runners, the supporters lining the route and the bands drumming up a party atmosphere at halfway and the finish. In fact, the Swansea Bay 10K seems to have it all – a PB-slaying course, beautiful coastal scenery and a fabulous atmosphere to boot.


7. Long Eaton Pro-Nation 5
Where: Derbyshire When: June 14

Grab this rare opportunity to dent your PB over five miles with the 15th staging of this Nottinghamshire fixture.

This local road race is well attended by local club runners and beginners alike, and has a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

You’ll be entertained no matter how quickly you whiz round this flat course by the variety of scenery as the race loops out of the town centre and back in for the last mile through pretty parkland and over a railway bridge.


8. Silverstone Grand Prix 10K
Where: Northamptonshire When: May 5

Take inspiration from the usual racers on the Silverstone Circuit: Formula 1 racing cars. The Midlands’ biggest 10K road race has been running for over 25 years and attracts over 1,000 entrants each year.
The course takes runners over two laps of the perfectly flat main grand prix circuit at the home of British motor-racing, before finishing in style in the pit lane.

The race-track setting gives runners plenty of elbow-room when surging forward to lower their 10K PB. The evening staging will also give runners who find morning races difficult a chance to really challenge their PB over this popular distance.

For local entrants, the Silverstone 10K is also the first race in the eight-race East Midlands Grand Prix Series.


9. Headington 10K
Where: Oxfordshire When: August/September, 2009 date tbc

The Headington 10K has been an annual event since 2005, always held the weekend after the August Bank Holiday.

The single-lap course takes the small field of entrants over a disused airfield and along quiet local roads. With a flat course and absolutely no hills to disrupt runners’ rhythm, the Headington 10K has PB written all over it.

The course also passes very close to race HQ and the car park during the race – which makes it the perfect opportunity to rally spectator support to help you cruise over the finish line in style.                                    .


10. Paddock Wood Half-Marathon
Where: Kent When: April 5

This race in Kent attracts a field of 2,000 runners from Kent and all across the south. Its fantastic transport links and timing just before the Flora London Marathon give southern runners ample excuse to head for the countryside - and a PB - to this gem of a half-marathon.

The scenic figure-of-eight road route winds through the hop fields and orchards of rural Kent, and the quiet country roads bely its proximity to the capital. Bursting with PB potential, the course is almost entirely flat - bar a couple of pesky railway bridges.

Runners are well looked after, with a classy memento and massage awaiting you at the finish..


How the results were calculated

This list was calculated using 2008 race ratings given by respondents on www.runnersworld.co.uk after they took part in the races. We worked out the average of the 'scenery' 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 (Scenery, PB Potential, Beginner-friendliness, Atmosphere), it was only included in the chart where it had the highest ranking.

* Since these three races all take place at the same venue, we have collated their entry in order to make way for more PB highlights from across the UK.


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