Readers' Top 50 Races 2008: 50-plus votes

You voted for them... here they are. It's your favourite races of 2008 (50-plus votes)


Posted: 12 January 2009

The Runner’s World community has spoken! Here they are – your 50 best British races of 2008. From six-milers to the full 26.2, on road, trail or through bogs, one thing is clear – 2008 was a lot of fun.

How the results were calculated

This list was calculated using ratings given by respondents on www.runnersworld.co.uk after they took part in the races. We worked out the average of the 'overall' rating runners gave races, to arrive at a figure between 0 and 100%, allowing us to rank them. However, we only included races with at least 50 responses in order to work from a larger sample size that more accurately reflected the overall feelings of those who ran them.

Race Overall score (2008) How many would do it again? No. of ratings (2008)
1 Midsummer Munro Half-Marathon, Surrey
When? June 21
Why? Described by one runner as "a fabulous nightmare", the course is eight vertiginous ascents and descents of Box Hill in Surrey, totalling over 915m of ascent – the equivalent of a Scottish Munro mountain, hence the name. The views are spectacular – if you can wipe the tears from your eyes long enough to see – the organisation flawless and the camaraderie something special.
What you say "Fabulously suicidal, a wonderfully stupid way to spend a Saturday evening." Adam Donogue
99
99
58 ratings
2 North Downs 30K, Kent
When? June 15
Why? This year was the 25th anniversary of this perennially popular multi-terrain race. As well as slick organisation, runners keep coming back to sample the beautiful scenery of Kent's North Downs, with undulating paths and tracks threading through woodland, orchards and parkland.
What you say "The ultimate 'must do' race. Very challenging terrain but a great course with wonderful organisation." Saradhi Rajan
99
97
82 ratings
3 Puma Hawkshead 15K, Cumbria
When? April 19
Why? This popular 15K trot along footpaths and bridleways of Beatrix Potter country is famed for its winning atmosphere and the panoramic views of Lake Windermere and the surrounding peaks. There are some punishing climbs, including the infamous "Coffin trail" at 11K, passing the bones of previous competitors who failed to complete the race.
What you say "Once again another superbly organised event with absolutely nothing that could be faulted." Fent
98
99
56 ratings
4 New Year Box Hill Knacker Cracker 10K, Surrey
When? January 1
Why? Billed as "Almost certainly the toughest 10K in Britain", this year's event saw 175 runners complete the scenic course despite treacherous post-downpour conditions underfoot. The fun atmosphere was enhanced somewhat by the increasing number of fun-runners, including Borat – complete with fluorescent mankini.
What you say "Despite the foggy conditions, we had a great, if tortuous race." UltraDalya
98
99
54 ratings
5 The Easy Runner Sodbury Slog 9.5, Bristol
When? November 11
Why? This slippery customer stays high in your affections thanks to its magic ingredient: mud. From the dignified start (with the Last Post and two-minute silence), it descends into glorious – and well-organised – chaos. Losing a running shoe to the muddy bogs is a common occurrence.
What you say "The combination of mud, water, mud and more mud makes the miles fly by." Ali Runner
98
96
52 ratings
6 Beachy Head Marathon, Sussex
When? October 25
Why? With over 1,000m of climbing, you might wonder why this is a regular in our top 10. But the cliffs provide some of the best views around and the glow of achievement is helped along by hot food and a warm welcome at the finish.
What you say "Stunning, stunning marathon... did not want it to end. Spectacular, tough, glorious, challenging." Sharon McGuinness
97
95
52 ratings
7 Stadium Runners' Woodland Challenge 6, Huddersfield
When? October 12
Why? Only in its second year, this two-lap off-road challenge already has an army of fanatical supporters. The little extras that make it a stand-out: vocally enthusiastic marshals; orange paint marking hazardous areas of the course; a bountiful goody bag; and a text results service.
What you say "The brass band added to the already typically Yorkshire friendliness and the goody bag was the icing on the cake." Sally Woods
97
95
54 ratings
8 Flora London Marathon, London
When? April 13
Why? The world's best big-city marathon continues to deliver year after year on every front. There's a fast, flat course, the organisation is faultless, while the atmosphere and the crowds are brilliant.
What you say "Wow! A totally amazing experience. I didn't stop grinning for most of the first 18 miles." Blodwen
97
93
230 ratings
9 Hogweed Hilly Half, South Gloucestershire
When? March 30
Why? A great race if you want to get away from it all, encompassing 13.1 miles across prime South Gloucestershire countryside. Oh, and did we mention the hills? Put your legs in gear and forget about a PB – this is rural racing at its very best.
What you say "Great scenery with great people. I've done all four and I plan to get back for number five." John Grimsey
96
98
51 ratings
10 Brathay Windermere Marathon, Cumbria
When? May 18
Why? A one-lap loop around England's largest lake – a tough, undulating race, but with stunning views. The previous year's few glitches (such as car park queues) were ironed out this year, with the result that the race is now in your top 10.
What you say "Simply the best road marathon ever. Very few marathons have it all… Windermere does!" eL Bee
96
94
78 ratings
11 Royal Parks Half-Marathon, London
When? October 12
Why? Large crowds, a great atmosphere and a scenic course taking in Buckingham Palace, St James's Park and Hyde Park helped make this inaugural event a success.
96
96
84 ratings
12 Snowdonia Marathon, Wales
When? October 25
Why? Arguably Britain's toughest marathon, but offers the chance to enjoy some awe-inspiring scenery and strong crowd support.
96
92
77 ratings
13 Guy Fawkes 10, North Yorkshire
When? November 2
Why? This 10-miler pushes you from the first step, but the goody bag and technical T-shirt will take your mind off the pain.
95
98
63 ratings
14 Leith Hill Half-Marathon, Surrey
When? March 9
Why? New this year – a varied, off-road, out-and-back course with plenty of mud, steep hills and some awesome views.
95
97
72 ratings
15 St Neots Riverside Half-Marathon, Cambridgeshire
When? November 16
Why? A friendly yet professional event with challenging hills and great scenery – runners can't help but keep returning to this race.
95
98
55 ratings
16 Halstead & Essex Marathon, Essex
When? May 11
Why? Ticks just about every box. Organisation, course, atmosphere, post-race facilities – none can be faulted.
94
92
202 ratings
17 Salomon South Downs Marathon, West Sussex
When? June 14
Why? A point-to-pointer from Arundel to Horndean with enough hills to satisfy even the most masochistic of runners.
94
94
61 ratings
18 Bewl 15, East Sussex
When? July 6
Why? A mostly flat, fast trail run with superb organisation, though three hills in the last three miles feel like a cruel trick.
92
98
51 ratings
19 Hastings 100th Anniversary Marathon, Sussex
When? December 14
Why? A one-off celebration of the 1908 Hastings Marathon, sticking closely to the original course and encompassing the city centre, clifftop paths and beach shingle.
92
88
80 ratings
20 Stamford Striders St Valentine's 30K, Lincolnshire
When? February 10
Why? The date and hilly nature of the course make this a good marker for checking the progress of your London Marathon training.
91
96
84 ratings
21 Puma HellRunner 11, Hampshire
When? November 16
Why? A consistently popular trail race, particularly with mud-lovers. The chest-deep waters of the Bog of Doom was not for the faint-hearted.
91
94
178 ratings
22 Great Cumbrian Run Half-Marathon
When? October 19
Why? Kicking off at the striking Carlisle Castle, a new route for the event proved popular with competitors.
91
97
65 ratings
23 London Pride Run 10K, London
When? August 16
Why? This jaunt around East London's PB-friendly Victoria Park draws runners of all abilities.
91
94
58 ratings
24 The Terminator 10, Wiltshire
When? February 24
Why? Originally 10 miles, the challenging (read: gruelling) multi-terrain course across Wiltshire farmland is now nearer 11.
90
97
69 ratings
25 Abingdon Marathon, Oxfordshire
When? October 19
Why? After a year-long break, this 26-year-old event returned to acclaim, with the flat course offering PB-reducing opportunities.
90
93
90 ratings
26 Marlow Half-Marathon, Buckinghamshire
When? November 2
Why? Despite damp conditions, 800 runners lapped up this one-lap gallop around the Buckinghamshire countryside.
90
97
59 ratings
27 Hanley Building Society Potters Arf Marathon, Staffordshire
When? June 8
Why? 1,100 runners completed this single-lapper around Stoke-on-Trent that blends long, easy flats with some punishing ups.
90
95
50 ratings
28 New Forest 10, Hampshire
When? July 13
Why? This event winds around one of the most beautiful parts of the UK on a PB-friendly course of road and forest trail.
89
96
55 ratings
29 Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon, Kent
When? February 24
Why? Dame Kelly Holmes started this event in 2008, which takes in lovely Kentish villages and a decent hill just after halfway to keep you warm.
89
98
106 ratings
30 London Santa Run, London
When? December 6
Why? It wouldn't be Christmas without a Santa run, and 2008 saw a Grinch-defying 2500 Santas trot around the peaceful riverside surrounds of Battersea Park.
89
99
53 ratings
31 BUPA Great North Run, Newcastle upon Tyne
When? October 5
Why? Deafening support and an unbeatable atmosphere throughout make the world's biggest half-marathon a winner.
88
85
122 ratings
32 Worksop Half-Marathon, Nottinghamshire
When? October 26
Why? This race has its ups and downs, literally, in the first half, but solid organisation keeps runners coming back.
88
98
72 ratings
33 Swansea Bay 10K and Fun Run, Glamorgan
When? September 21
Why? Family races, a great location and strong PB potential all help this event attract 3,500 runners each year.
88
93
74 ratings
34 Llanelli Waterside Half-Marathon, Carmarthenshire
When? March 2
Why? A strong wind this year didn't stop this event blowing the competition away again, thanks to its super-fast coastal route and slick organisation.
87
93
74 ratings
35 Tadworth 10, Surrey
When? January 6
Why? A new course in 2008 proved a hit, with 900 runners braving mud, ice and hills to blow away their New Year cobwebs.
86
98
58 ratings
36 Hastings Lions Half-Marathon, Sussex
When? March 16
Why? It's not the flattest race, but Hastings still delivers its share of PBs – and that, along with a warm welcome from locals, makes it an RW crowd-pleaser.
86
94
92 ratings
37 Herts 10K, Hertfordshire
When? October 10
Why? This pretty multi-terrain event is only in its third year, but has been bumped up in the rankings due to organisers changing the route for the better.
86
96
58 ratings
38 Beford Harriers Half-Marathon, Bedfordshire
When? December 14
Why? Competitors set off to the strains of carol singers on a satisfying course along country roads. Once past the hilly middle section entrants head downhill, drawn by the bacon sandwiches and bread pudding on offer at the finish.
86
98
69 ratings
39 Leeds 10K Jane Tomlinson's 'Run For All', Leeds
When? June 22
Why? This city-centre 10K continues to be as popular as its inspiration. It attracts runners of all abilities in a field of over 6,000.
85
90
88 ratings
40 adidas London Half-Marathon, Northamptonshire
When? March 9
Why? A key London Marathon build-up race, this Silverstone racetrack-based event offers a flat course, slick organisation, abundant facilities – and Runner's World pacers.
85
90
80 ratings
41 BUPA Great South Run, Portsmouth
When? October 26
Why? Probably the best-known 10-miler in the country. The fast, flat course with seafront sections always draws a massive field and huge support.
85
93
90 ratings
42 BUPA London 10,000, London
When? May 26
Why? A new 10K over part of what is likely to be the London Olympic Marathon course, following an anti-clockwise route around the City of Westminster and the City of London. The weather was appalling this year, but everything about it suggests it will be hugely popular in future.
85
91
95 ratings
43 Not the Roman IX, Warwickshire
When? January 20
Why? An excellent, if challenging, early-season race that's run over an unusual 12K distance. It's a rural, undulating route that narrows in places, which limits the field to 700.
85
95
67 ratings
44 Great Bentley Half-Marathon, Essex
When? February 3
Why? The route is a quick, flat, single loop around the Essex countryside – well marshalled and organised by the local running club.
85
97
57 ratings
45 Cranleigh 15/21, Surrey
When? March 16
Why? Two races in one event that serve as perfect spring marathon preparation. The course goes through beautiful countryside and is relatively flat with a few undulations.
84
94
52 ratings
46 BUPA Great Capital 10K, London
When? July 20
Why? A big race with plenty of atmosphere that still does all the basics well: good facilities and a well-marked and marshalled Hyde Park course.
84
90
63 ratings
47 26.2 RRC Valentines 10K, Surrey
When? February 10
Why? There are few who didn't love this fun, mostly flat and well-organised romp around Chessington in Surrey. The weather was perfect and the marshals were great.
84
95
59 ratings
48 Experian Robin Hood Marathon, Nottinghamshire
When? September 14
Why? A big race but with a good atmosphere. It's largely traffic-free and mixes green and urban Nottingham, passing the River Trent, university and Wollaton Park.
84
91
106 ratings
49 Humber Bridge Half-Marathon, East Yorkshire
When? June 29
Why? With a route that takes in two crossings of the longest bridge in the world that you can cross on foot, this unique race is a firm summer favourite.
84
94
57 ratings
50 New Forest Marathon and Half-Marathon, Hampshire
When? September 21
Why? Both courses were rerouted in 2008 in order to avoid increasingly congested roads. The redesign won praise from most runners.
83
83
73 ratings

Previous article
Readers' Top 50 Races 2008: 25-49 Votes
Next article
Pocket Race Guide - January

races of the year
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this article

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.