Featuring... Bungay Black Dog Marathon, Bolton 10K,Bridgedale Sport Trail, Flitwick 10K, Wiggle Thunder Run 10K and the Blackpool Marathon
Lincoln 10K, March 30
City of Lincoln - Jackson Building Centres 10K (Lincolnshire, March 30)
4,000-strong whirlwind tour of the city's historical precincts, praised for its carnivalesque atmosphere, level contours and castle grounds finish.
Sandy 10 (Bedfordshire, March 30)
Be part of the 25th staging of this popular 10-miler, whose mix of ups and downs leads you through a trio of quaint pastoral villages.
Chedworth Roman Trail 10 (Gloucestershire, April 6)
Uneven terrain, several taxing hills and a knee-deep river crossing make this a challenging cross-country course through the heart of the Cotswolds.
More 10K highlights...
Frimley Park 10K
Bungay Black Dog Marathon (and Half-Marathon) (Suffolk, April 6)
Bungay Black Dog Marathon, April 6
A quaint rural setting isn’t the only feature that lends East England's sole spring marathon a distinctly traditional feel. Named after Suffolk’s legendary phantom hound – first sighted in the 16th century and believed to be the Devil in disguise – this 26-year-old race has become a county institution, presided over by the resident Town Reeve.
The elliptical course takes runners on a testing tour of Suffolk’s beautiful Waveney Valley, curving to and from Beccles via a string of pretty villages. Some tough uphill stretches characterise the first few miles out of Bungay: those tackling the full distance can expect to face these climbs again as they embark on a second loop. The staggered start provides marathon runners with welcome company for the latter miles, while also treating spectators to an exciting, busy finish.
More marathon highlights...
Rotary Shakespeare Marathon (Warwickshire, April 27)
Team Strides Lochaber Marathon (Highland, April 27)
Three Forts Marathon (West Sussex, May 4)
Bolton 10K, April 13
Bolton 10K (Manchester, April 13)
Look beyond the bright lights of the capital on the morning of the Flora London Marathon, and you might be surprised to discover another classic road race taking place the same day. For on the north-west fringe of Greater Manchester, some 1,000 runners will be toeing the line at this fast and friendly 10K.
Quiet country roads lead runners from Leverhulme Park to suburban Little Lever, via a couple of teasing climbs that do little to hamper the course’s PB potential. Returning full circle to conclude on the athletics track offers the perfect opportunity to pull off a sprint finish in front of supporters, while the early race start (9am) leaves plenty of time to catch the televised FLM coverage in the pub after.
(Surrey, April 6)
Dorney Lake, Windsor 10K
(Berkshire, April 13)
(West Yorkshire, April 20)
More Half-Marathon highlights...
Hogweed Hilly Half-Marathon IV
Bridgedale Sport Trail (Cumbria, April 19)
Bridgedale Sport Trail, April 19
Live music, an entertainment marquee, beer tent and bouncy castle might sound de rigueur for large-scale urban numbers, but in the case of this 250-strong village-centred 4.5K, the promise of a jam-packed "party programme" belies its pocket-friendly price tag and welcoming community feel.
Organised by the team behind the hugely successful Puma Lakeland Trail Festival – whose 15K Coniston fixture topped our 2007 Reader’s Races of the Year poll – this is the first event in a spin-off sister series, whose shorter distances are ideal for those looking to make their off-road racing debut. Boasting panoramic views of the Coniston Hills, Langdales and Lakeland fells, the route sticks to well-kept bridleways and farm tracks, taking in just one short climb before finishing with a lap of Hawkshead village showground.
Flitwick 10K (Bedfordshire, April 20)
Go on, admit it – a commemorative medal is up there with value-for-money, charming scenery and a festive atmosphere on your race-day wish-list. Enter this one-lap affair in rural Bedfordshire and you’re not only guaranteed a limited-edition souvenir, you’ll soon find yourself awarding full marks on all three other fronts too. Little wonder then, that this fixture has a seemingly loyal fan base.
Part of the new 2008 England Athletics East Region Grand Prix Series, be prepared for a PB-promoting course along quiet country lanes, made all the more thrilling by a flat, fast finish. Not that the preceding miles are all plain sailing - a mix of ups and downs can make for a somewhat bumpy ride. First-timers needn’t be deterred however: the race can pride itself on its all-inclusive atmosphere, promising toddlers in the family fun run as warm a welcome as rising GB stars in the main event.
Wiggle Thunder Run 10K (Derbyshire, April 26)
Roaring onto the UK’s off-road listings this year is a new, heart-hammering 10K on the outskirts of Tamworth. Launched to trial the course of a 24-hour ultra event planned for 2009, the steep climbs and rough trails of Catton Hall Park can’t fail but offer an adrenalin-fuelled ride. What the course demands in endurance however, will undoubtedly be repaid in elation as you cross the finish.
Chip timing, medals and SiS-loaded goody bags also promise you’ll come away on a high – provided you can tear yourself away from the free camping, hot shower facilities and whole-foods catering outlets that is. For with the Enduro 6 mountain-bike event taking place the next day - and free MTB demos and twilight time trial that very evening – you could soon find yourself signing up for the perfect multi-sport weekend...
Sorbothane Blackpool Marathon (and Half-Marathon) (Lancashire, April 27)
Bustling amusement arcades meet expansive ocean views in this 3,000-strong spectacle along the Fylde coast. Ongoing sea defence work means a revised race route this year: rest assured, you’ll still be treated to all the sights and sounds of the world-famous Golden Mile as you canter along its wide promenade walkways.
Sweltering temperatures characteristic of previous stagings should soon be resigned to memory thanks to a change of date - cooler climes will not only boost the event’s sterling PB potential, but are sure to attract a growing crowd of first-time marathoners too. Tourists and locals furnish the event with rowdy spectator support, while commemorative T-shirts and medals provide the perfect get-up in which to enjoy Blackpool’s lively night-time scene.
(South Gloucestershire, March 30)
(South Yorkshire, April 27)
Road to the Isles Half Marathon
(Highland, May 3)