From all corners of Britain, from six miles to 26.2, road to trail, and from small rural races to big city marathons, all the best fixtures are here in your 50 top UK races of 2009. The list includes familiar events and lots of new entries.
How the list was calculated
The top 50 was worked out using ratings given by respondents on runnersworld.co.uk after they took part in the races. We worked out the average of the 'overall' rating runners gave events, allowing us to rank them.
Please note that our list only includes races that got at least 50 responses in this way - this was to work from a larger sample size that we felt better reflected the general response to an event.
This list also includes some minor variations when compared to the feature in our February 2010 magazine issue. This is because the magazine went to press on December 11 and could therefore not include events taking place (or ratings submitted after) this date.
Key to percentages
After each event title, you will see some key statistics relating to that race. These are: (Overall Score, How Many People Would Do It Again, Number Of Ratings)
Your Top 50 Races
1. Eridge Park 10 (100%, 95%, 50 ratings)
Where? Tunbridge Wells, Kent When? September 13
Always a favourite of off-road veterans, a few tweaks to the route this year have seen this race rocket to the top of the charts. The route is traffic-free, the views are varied but uniformly captivating, and runners can't get enough of the steep, narrow climbs and copious quantities of mud.
YOU SAY "This is what Sunday mornings were made for. Excellent race in every department." Tom Campbell
2. Mull Of Kintyre Half-Marathon (99%, 99%, 58 ratings)
Where? Argyll and Bute When? May 24
Ticks all the boxes. It features a beautiful multi-terrain route, including a short stretch along an Atlantic-facing beach with a lone piper to help you along. At the finish, all runners got a sandwich, pastry and hot drink, and the locally made pottery medal was a really nice touch. Tired legs were soon forgotten at the post-race Ceilidh.
YOU SAY "Great atmosphere. Visitors and locals alike were made to feel like superstars as they crossed the finishing line." Fiona Watson
3. Stadium Runners' Woodland Challenge 6 (99%, 100%, 52 ratings)
Where? West Yorkshire When? October 11
Ron Hill got this challenging but enormously fun multi-terrain six-miler underway. Racers loved the face painters, the pianist hidden in the woods on the course playing Chariots Of Fire and the brass band at the finish. And the "stunning" goody bag was "worth twice the entrance fee", say runners.
YOU SAY "Clockwork organisation, friendly marshals, challenging course and a great atmosphere. Best event of my calendar by a mile, or even six!" Steve Boyer
4. North Downs 30K (98%, 97%, 91 ratings)
Where? Kent When? June 14
Makes the top five for the third year running, with participants raving about the slick organisation, the stunning scenery and the challenge posed by the numerous tracks and trails through the woods and parkland along the route.
YOU SAY "The scenery was breathtaking and there was great support around the course." Gary Sloman
5. Chippenham Half-Marathon (98%, 99%, 75 ratings)
Where? Wiltshire When? September 13
Chippenham Harriers resurrected the half-marathon in 2008 to mark their 25th anniversary, and the event was such a success it's now a regular event. The route is mostly along flat rural roads, giving runners a good shot at a personal best. The 2009 race was widely praised for its welcoming atmosphere and generous goody bag.
YOU SAY "A lovely countryside run. Ran it last year and couldn't resist coming back." Debbie Webber
6. PUMA Hawkshead Trail 15K (98%, 100%, 55 ratings)
Where? Cumbria When? April 18
In the top 10 for the third year running, this is a firm favourite among runners for its exhilarating course, friendly atmosphere and scenic setting in Beatrix Potter country. Running legend Ron Hill ran it this year, giving a fearless performance on the tricky trails. Organisers also put on the PUMA Challenge, for faster walkers and less competitive runners, as well as junior fun runs for the kids.
YOU SAY "Stunning scenery, great atmosphere, smiling marshals, chocolate mint cake and sunshine! These guys wrote the book when it comes to laying on the perfect trail race." Rob Whiston
7. The Friends of Mick'n'Phil Half-Marathon (98%, 99%, 60 ratings)
Where? Warwickshire When? March 8
Proof that running is really a team sport, this new race - in support of former RW Heroes Of Running Mick Curry and his chronically ill son Phil - was organised by volunteers from our sister website fetcheveryone.com. The weather wasn't perfect but the multi-lap race around Draycote Water reservoir lived up to Mick's catchphrase: "Easy, easy, easy!"
YOU SAY "A real 'feel-good' race. Top atmosphere, great scenery and traffic-free. Let's have another next year." John Norris
8. Trionium New Year Box Hill Knacker Cracker 10K (98%, 100%, 69 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? January 1
In just six short years this handicap 10K has become the stuff of New Year legend - or nightmare. The hilly course across the North Downs is scenic but extremely tough, and always attracts a field of masochistic, madcap, fancy-dress runners hell-bent on some old-school-style hangover blitzing.
YOU SAY "I felt very underdressed in my grass skirt next to Mr T, the cowboy on his inflatable horse and the Masai warrior." Guy Sellwood
9. Trionium Picnic Marathon (98%, 92%, 59 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? June 20
Don't be deceived by the genteel title - with a height range of more than 6,000 feet, this claims to be the 'hardest marathon in Britain'. To get an idea of your estimated finish time add 40 per cent to your marathon PB. It's run every two (odd-numbered) years - which at least leaves you plenty of time to recover before the next one...
YOU SAY "I've done a number of marathons, but nothing as tough. Not a race for the faint-hearted, but an absolutely incredible one." Mark Edwards
10. Trionium Leith Hill Half-Marathon (97%, 98%, 83 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? March 8
Prepare to get dirty, and prepare to hurt after this popular half that is more 'up then down' than 'out and back'. For an extra dose of giggles, get there early to take part in the wife-carrying race.
YOU SAY "Tough as nails with some exceptionally killer hills, more cross-country than I expected but that made it all the better." Daniel Moll
11. St Neots Riverside Half-Marathon (97%, 98%, 53 ratings)
Where? Cambridgeshire When? November 15
Don't be confused by the lack of a river (it's named after Riverside Runners); just enjoy the picturesque route, great organisation and fantastic support.
12. Ashby 20 (97%, 100%, 54 ratings)
Where? Leicestershire When? March 22
This undulating 20-miler is also one of the best ways to get in a long training run before a spring marathon.
13. Hogweed Hilly Half (97%, 98%, 53 ratings)
Where? Gloucestershire When? March 22
Escape the city for a tough countryside run that rewards competitors with spectacular scenery. Faultless organisation: this is how a race should be.
14. Trionium Midsummer Munro Half-Marathon (96%, 96%, 67 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? June 20
Last year's top dog, this race has slipped down your list. PB-chasers had their hopes crushed by a gruelling eight trips up and down Box Hill.
15. Freckleton Half-Marathon (96%, 96%, 104 ratings)
Where? Lancashire When? June 21
This was the 45th running of this race, so its key ingredients of a fast course, local support and brilliant organisation clearly strike the right chord.
16. Flora London Marathon (96%, 92%, 209 ratings)
Where? London When? April 26
That this is the highest-placed mass urban race in your top 50 is a testament to its iconic status. Less of a road race and more a national treasure.
17. Snowdonia Marathon (96%, 95%, 60 ratings)
Where? Llanberis When? October 24
One of the UK's most popular marathons, this demanding run around England and Wales' highest mountain is not to be missed.
18. Puma Hellrunner: Hell Down South 11 (95%, 98%, 94 ratings)
Where? Hampshire When? November 15
Billed by the organisers as 11 miles of 'devilish delight and suffering', there are no distance markers but several suitably hellish obstacles.
19. Saab Salomon Turbo X, Surrey Hill (95%, 98%, 107 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? May 31
Part of a series famed for its mud, this had bogs so viscous it was practically an aquathlon. Also featured: relentless hills, tricky trails and a bumper goody bag.
20. Trionium Greensand Marathon (95%, 98%, 75 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? October 25
A triumphant debut. Participants loved almost everything about it - the off-road route, the views from the top of Leith Hill, and a mass rendition of Jerusalem at the start line.
21. Puma HellRunner: Hell Up North 11 (95%, 95%, 74 ratings)
Where? Cheshire When? November 1
This popular 11-mile multi-terrain race series continues to delight with liberal servings of mud and mayhem. Be prepared to drag yourself through the Bog of Doom and up the Hills of Hell.
22. Beachy Head Marathon (95%, 95%, 75 ratings)
Where? East Sussex When? October 24
A challenging but stunning off-road course along the south coast's clifftops over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. The weather spoiled the views this time, but at least the mist obscured the hills...
23. The Terminator 11 (94%, 96%, 50 ratings)
Where? Wiltshire When? February 22
This rural 11-miler cemented its ferocious reputation with another gruelling fight to the finish through farmland, fields - and plenty of sludge. Even the addition of an extra mile hasn't changed your opinion of this fantastic race.
24. Saab Salomon Turbo X, Bordon (94%, 98%, 84 ratings)
Where? Hampshire When? November 22
Ten miles of the hilliest, boggiest, dirtiest, most unforgiving terrain you could imagine - with a two-mile 'Turbo X' section of soul-destroying assault course in the middle. You loved it.
25. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon (94%, 88%, 57 ratings)
Where? Invernesshire When? October 4
Hard on the legs but easy on the eye. The route hugs the shores of the famous loch and ends with a grandstand finish in Inverness' Queen's Park Stadium.
26. Co-operative Balfron 10K (94%, 98%, 51 ratings)
Where? Lanarkshire When? April 26
Run on country roads and footpaths, this race romps through the countryside to the north of Glasgow. Tougher than its idyllic setting might suggest.
27. Bewl 15 (94%, 98%, 70 ratings)
Where? East Sussex When? July 5
The promise of free cake at the end of this tough race will push you harder - if the three hills towards the end don't destroy you first, that is...
28. Halstead & Essex Marathon (93%, 94%, 90 ratings)
Where? Essex When? May 10
This race features nice touches such as being able to deliver your own choice of drinks to water stations and personalised race numbers for early entrants.
29. Surrey Badger Half-Marathon (93%, 94%, 62 ratings)
Where? Leatherhead When? September 6
A new entrant with an old-school feel, this race began with a rousing chorus of the National Anthem and took in a working saw mill and old-fashioned farm.
30. Petts Wood 10K (93%, 99%, 56 ratings)
Where? Kent When? October 11
The main attraction here was the chance for denizens of south-east London to escape into the trails, with a picturesque jaunt through National Trust woodland.
31. Ashtead 10K (93%, 99%, 55 ratings)
Where? Surrey When? September 20
A new out-and-back route over the paths and bridleways of scenic Ashtead Common placed this race firmly in your top 50 this year. A goody bag with technical running top was appreciated by many.
32. Abingdon Marathon (92%, 92%, 91 ratings)
Where? Oxfordshire When? October 18
Crush your PB at this well-organised, top-class marathon. This year, nearly 500 runners out of 706 came in under four hours.
33. Salomon South Downs Marathon (92%, 92%, 72ratings)
Where? Sussex When? June 13
A must-do point-to-point marathon along the National Trail West that includes several challenging climbs, offset by stunning views over the South Downs.
34. Bupa London 10,000 (92%, 98%, 100 ratings)
Where? London When? May 25
Packs in more landmarks per mile than probably any other race - tick off Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tate Modern art gallery, St Paul's Cathedral, Nelson's Column and more as you run.
35. Royal Parks Half-Marathon (91%, 95%, 111 ratings)
Where? London When? October 11
Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament were as beautiful a backdrop as ever, but long queues led this race to fall in your rankings this year.
36. Rough 'n' Tumble 10 (91%, 97%, 55 ratings)
Where? Wiltshire When? January 11
A chance to blow away those post-New Year cobwebs by tackling frozen mud, killer hills,
slippery mud - and did we mention the mud? This is a good choice for masochistic runners.
37. Stockport 10 (91%, 99%, 63 ratings)
Where? Greater Manchester When? December 13
Challenging climbs, plenty of vocal support and a goody bag packed with unusual gifts – the Stockport 10 has all the ingredients of a great race.
38. Market Drayton Muller 10K (91%, 95%, 55 ratings)
Where? Shropshire When? May 10
Revived by Müller employees, the race formerly known as the Market Drayton Carnival 10K now boasts one of the most scrumptious race mementos around - yoghurts for all finishers.
39. New Forest 10 (91%, 98%, 53 ratings)
Where? Hampshire When? July 12
What better way to see this gorgeous National Park than by running through it? This scenic race comprises mostly trail paths and boasts a great family atmosphere and a horse brass for every runner.
40. Llanelli Waterside Half-Marathon (91%, 95%, 114 ratings)
Where? Carmarthenshire When? March 8
Cold, wet and windy - a day of terrible weather has seen this well-regarded race around the exposed terrain of the Millennium Coastal Park fall seven places.
41. Wright Hassall Leamington Regency 10K (91%, 96%, 61 ratings)
Where? Warwickshire When? April 5
The mix of terrain proved a hit at this race, with the mild undulations of the tracks and trails proving a gentle induction for off-road newbies.
42. Rotary Shakespeare Marathon (90%, 90%, 91 ratings)
Where? Warwickshire When? April 26
On the same day as London, this popular mid-sized marathon consists of a two-lap course that starts and finishes in Stratford, the birthplace of the Bard.
43. Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon (90%, 99%, 128 ratings)
Where? Kent When? February 15
Winner of the 'Most Improved Event' prize at last year's Runner's World Personal Best Awards, this is a satisfying gallop through some of the Garden of England's most attractive countryside.
44. Llanelli Waterside 10K (90%, 100%, 58 ratings)
Where? Carmarthenshire When? June 21
Sometimes hamstrung by bad weather, this race reappears in your top 50 thanks to an uncharacteristically wind-free run in 2009.
45. Bupa Great North Run (90%, 87%, 118 ratings)
Where? Tyne and Wear When? September 20
It's the world's biggest half-marathon for a reason: the support is phenomenal, and the carnival-like atmosphere among the runners helps too.
46. Kenilworth Half-Marathon (90%, 99%, 50 ratings)
Where? Warwickshire When? October 4
Efficient organisation, a friendly atmosphere and a scenic but undulating out-and-back course keep around 700 runners coming back year after year.
47. Great Bentley Half-Marathon (90%, 97%, 105 ratings)
Where? Essex When? February 8
From its start line by the village hall to its finish on the village green, this fast, flat, rustic race has a determinedly local flavour. Perfect for PB-chasers and country-philes alike.
48. The Great Clarendon Marathon (90%, 98%, 52 ratings)
Where? Wiltshire When? October 4
A favourite in the off-road marathon calendar, the runners of this friendly point-to-point race love the chance to get down and dirty in sloppy mud. Great for both the hardened club runner as well as the once-a-year adventurous type.
49. Marlow Half-Marathon (90%, 96%, 67 ratings)
Where? Buckinghamshire When? November 1
Despite a core band of loyal - and very wet - fans, atrocious weather saw this otherwise picturesque race slide down this year's rankings on a tidal wave of mud, floods and soggy cowpats.
50. Admiral Swansea Bay 10K (89%, 98%, 60 ratings)
Where? Swansea When? September 27
A popular out-and-back coastal race along Swansea Bay that offers friendly crowd support and good PB potential. Plus, there are prizes for fancy dress and entertainment at the finish.