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Few races in our event listings receive such consistent and unanimous praise as this longstanding multi-terrain fixture. Despite being one of the toughest courses in the south-east, the North Downs 30K attracts a loyal following of runners year on year, though annual tweaks to the course keep it a fresh challenge for all who take part. Lung-busting, leg-crumbling hills are offset by stunning rural views as the route weaves through woodland, fields and parkland, while the ground adjacent to the track is carpeted with crimson-red poppies and ox-eyed daisies. Enter now to avoid disappointment – if past years are anything to go by, this fixture is sure to reach its entrant limit in advance of race day.
Given Southend’s reputation as a popular seaside resort, you might be forgiven for counting coastal views, candyfloss and amusement arcades as part and parcel of an event that creates such a buzz on our forums. In fact, the race route forgoes the tarmac promenades, and instead remains inland, twisting along rural country roads, farm tracks and the odd bumpy bridle path through the Great Wakering and Stambridge area. Its predominantly flat course is bursting with PB potential, though many an early-season heatwave has thwarted record-hunters in previous years. Bring the whole family to make a day of it - a 3K fun run after the main event is the perfect introduction to running for children and adults alike.
Signing up for a regular race series is a great way to keep tabs on your progress from one month to the next, and these fast, flat fixtures along the picturesque seafront just outside Swansea offer entrants the perfect chance to reap the rewards of their training while unwinding after a day at the office. Ideal for both first-time racers and seasoned veterans alike, the out-and-back course has just one turn, as runners head back to the start after reaching the village of Mumbles. Complementary post-race refreshments add a welcome social buzz to the event - last year saw a number of RW forumites charging along the coast before indulging in a well-earned beer and hot dog.
More race series...
Dumbarton 10K and Vale of Leven 10K (West Dumbartonshire, June 7 & June 17)
Countryside Tour of Horwich & Rivington (Lancashire, June 19 - June 24)
Colworth Marathon Challenge (Bedfordshire, June 22 - June 24)
Marrying two of runners’ most bemoaned adversaries - hills and heat – in a single event might not seem like a recipe for success, but given the positive RW reader feedback following last year’s inaugural event, the second staging of this point-to-point trail race is sure to be just as enjoyable as the first. Definitely not one for the faint-of-heart, runners must traverse the rough chalk tracks and isolated paths of the South Downs Way, rewarded for their efforts by far-reaching views over the south-east countryside. Stretches through woodland provide welcome respite from the summer sun, but don’t underestimate the stamina and endurance required for the gruelling hills.
Not ready for the full marathon distance? Then round up your running friends and enter the relay event instead. Held at the same time as the main event, teams of four are invited to tackle shortened stretches of the course - between five and eight miles each – to make up an aggregated 26.2 miles.
Quiet country lanes, cottages with postcard potential and a short off-road lakeside stretch make for a scenic sojourn through the outskirts of Solihull in this one-lap road race. Threading through the villages of Catherine de Barnes and Barston, vociferous support from the local residents - together with a regular turnout of motivational club runners - lend this fixture a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, while the promise of a post-race chocolate bar, banana and medal should act as a great incentive for runners struggling up the renowned incline towards the finish. Now in its fourth year, the race has always been run in scorching temperatures – 2006 saw the mercury rise to a searing 34ºC – so organisers assure us frequent water stations (also serving energy drinks) and hosepipes en route are an absolute given.
An infamous North East tidal waterway provides a breathtaking backdrop to this popular half, run over Britain’s longest single span suspension bridge. Far from faultlessly flat – the bridge rises towards its centre, and runners are faced with a steep incline before the return leg – this surprisingly challenging course starts in the Yorkshire town of Hessle (once a busy shipbuilding centre) before crossing the estuary and looping round the Lincolnshire rural market town of Barton-on-Humber. Organisers hope to attract a 2,000-strong field this year, drawn by the promise of unique views across the river to the Wolds and the rare opportunity to race over such an imposing landmark.
Feel like an elite athlete with a track start and finish in the City of Manchester Stadium – part of the 2002 Commonwealth Games legacy – in this city-based 10K. Three laps of industrial suburbs might not offer much in the way of inspired scenery, though the course does pass the striking ‘B of the Bang’ sculpture, so named after Linford Christie’s famous quotation. Hard-boiled PB hunters should prepare themselves for having to weave through the back of the field with each successive lap but might find the atmosphere and crowd support that accompanies an event of this size all the motivation they need to succeed.
More 10K highlights...
Newport Carnival 10K (Shropshire, June 9)
Stourbridge Stumble 10K (West Midlands, June 16)
Beamish Tram Challenge 10K (Durham, June 24)
Llanelli Waterside 10K (Camarthenshire, June 24)
The Dorney Dash (Berkshire, June 30)
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