Garstang 10, January 13
Garstang 10K (Lancashire, January 13)
Post-Christmas bargains aren't constrained to the shops this month - get yourself along to this pretty, pastoral fixture set on the outskirts of a historic market town and you're sure to come away satisfied with the top-notch organisation and scenic course that accompany its pocket-friendly price tag.
Consider that the race enjoys a reputation for both its PB potential and beginner-friendliness too - despite its rolling contours - and it's no wonder runners are often heard clamouring for places well before race-day. Loyal fans are guaranteed to turn out in force for a more sobering reason this year - to honour the memory of much-loved race founder, Dave Clarke, who passed away in March.
May Hill Massacre (Gloucestershire, January 20)
Yet another great excuse to get your feet, legs and waists dirty during the coldest and wettest time of year. A warning for the trail debutante though: a few miles in and you might find yourself wishing you could swap your trainers for tractor tyres, especially if conditions underfoot are on a par with last year. In fact, it's unlikely many of the inaugural 400-strong field ran the entire eight-mile-plus course - its combination of knee-deep mud baths, lung-busting climbs and daredevil descents certainly dashed many a hope of an early-season PB.
That said, few feelings are likely to compare with the overwhelming sense of satisfaction that comes with reaching the finish, especially since the absence of mile markers means you'll have no choice but to grit your teeth and struggle on...
More off-road numbers...
The Hebden (West Yorkshire, January 5)
Tadworth 10 (Surrey, January 6)
Wellingborough Multi-terrain (5K, 10K and 15K options) (Northamptonshire, January 13)
Benfleet 15 (Essex, January 27)
Lakeside Canal Run Frimley 12K (Surrey, January 27)
Exactly a fortnight after darts fans are due to pack out the Lakeside Leisure Complex for the 2008 World Championships, it'll be the turn of the running fraternity to wend their way to this bitter-drinking mecca. Not to enjoy a full-bodied tipple, but to toe the oche in this upcoming 12K through rural Surrey.
The opening few kilometres take in some testing climbs as the route charts along leafy country roads towards Pirbright Lock, before flattening out as the course joins Basingstoke Canal for the return to Frimley Green. Softer terrain underfoot, together with pretty waterside scenery, makes for a more relaxed second half, though the addition of a teasing 3K loop around Deepcut (as you pass exasperatingly close to the finish) can seem like a mocking sting in the tail.
Spectator support was limited to early-morning dog walkers or clusters of ramblers during its inaugural staging last year, but contented entrants nevertheless reported a friendly atmosphere throughout the field.