RW's Races Of The Year 2007

The 50 best British races of the last year - as judged by you, the runners who ran them. 2008 has a lot to live up to...


Posted: 21 January 2008

Your Number One: Northumberland Coastal Run
The Runner’s World community has spoken! Here they are – the 50 best races in Britain from last year. There’s something for every shade of runner here – from 5K up to marathon, from tarmac to mudbaths, right through the seasons. There are some familiar faces and some surprises, but without a doubt, all of the events here made a lasting impression on the people who ran and enjoyed them. Here’s to 2008 and another great year of racing in store.

How the results were calculated

These are the top 50 races with at least 50 feedback ratings from runners on www.runnersworld.co.uk. All of the ratings were then combined to produce an average score out of 100 and an overall ranking. These ratings were taken from November 2006 to November 2007.

1 Northumberland Coastal Run
When? July 15
Why? The first Northumberland Coastal Run took place in 1979 with just 12 competitors. Last year over 800 runners assembled to tackle 14 miles of seaside scenery on the point-to-point route south from Beadnell Harbour to a finish on Alnmouth beach. The key to this race’s enduring and growing popularity is the setting – the Northumberland coastline is one of the most spectacular in the country and the route rarely strays away from it. As one runner commented: "It’s the only race I’ve done where people stop to take photographs." The views apart, the race is also a challenging but enjoyable multi-terrain test, combining sandy beaches, cliffs, trails and roads. For many, this is what the pure joy of running is all about.
What you say: "A truly stunning event, great views and wonderful underfoot. One of the year’s highlights." Gypsy Davey

2 Easy Runner Sodbury Slog
When? November 11
Why? This 9.5-mile multi-terrain race, held in Chipping Sodbury near Bristol, has become an institution. It’s held on Remembrance Sunday and is preceded by two minutes’ silence, after which racers are set loose on bogs, marshes and cow dung. PBs are largely forgotten and it’s probably one of the funniest races around.
What you say: "I have never been so dirty in all my life. I was still blowing mud out of my nose Sunday night!" Tracey Holborn

3 North Downs Run 30K
When? June 10
Why? This multi-terrain race takes in some of the picturesque parkland and forest trails along Kent’s North Downs. It’s a demanding course, but the organisation is faultless and the sense of achievement at the finish makes the hills worthwhile. The organisers left no stone unturned – or tree roots, which they painted orange to prevent runners tumbling over.
What you say: "Fantastic organisation, great scenery and plenty of support make this event one of the best." Last Man Standing

4 Puma Trailfox Hawkshead Trail Race
When? April 28
Why? The 2007 Lakeland Trail Running and Walking Series started on a high with this 15K trail race through Beatrix Potter country. Runners were treated to panoramic views of Lake Windermere and surrounding peaks. Glorious sunshine set off the breathtaking –literally and metaphorically – Lakeland scenery. If you haven’t tackled the trails before, this is a memorable introduction to the hills.
What you say: "The most wonderful race I have ever done! Great atmosphere, perfectly organised, stunning scenery." BlondyB

5 Midsummer Munro Half-Marathon, Dorking, Surrey
When? June 24
Why? This race is a crazy idea: a trail half-marathon with eight serious climbs up and down Box Hill in Surrey totaling over 3,000ft of ascents (and descents, thankfully), the equivalent of a Scottish Munro. It’s brutally tough but strangely everyone still loves it, the scenery is superb, the organisation faultless and there’s great camaraderie within the field.
What you say: "Marvellously tough. It feels wrong that something this painful should feel so good." George Eyles

6 Snowdonia Marathon
When? October 28
Why? The magical scenery surrounding Wales’s tallest mountain and the achievement of completing arguably Britain’s toughest marathon keep pulling in a crowd. This event is more than a race, with tremendous support within the field and along the course despite this year’s heavy rain.
What you say: "So much harder than a normal marathon I didn’t think I’d want to do it again, but was sure that I would by the next day." Mark Hooper

7 Beachy Head Marathon
When? October 27
Why? This must-do off-road race may take place in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, but it’s not just the spectacular vistas that attract. The camaraderie of all involved made this one of the friendliest events of the calendar. The sun shone brightly over this year’s event, as competitors took on 3,500ft of climbing along the famous cliff-top paths.
What you say: "Wonderful event – no wonder so many return every year!" LHWMG

8 Puma Trailfox Garburn Trail Race
When? June 3
Why? This is as easy on the eyes as it is hard on the legs. This year around 500 runners took on the 21K route across varied terrain right through the heart of the Lake District. The course has a bit of everything – tracks, bogs, meadows, woodland and panoramic views of Lake Windermere.
What you say: "A life-affirming day out in some of the most stunning countryside imaginable." Simon Smith

9 St Neots Riverside Half-Marathon, Cambridgeshire
When? November 18
Why? This race – which despite the name follows an attractive countryside route – is a friendly, well-organised affair, with a much-appreciated four-mile downhill at the end. This, combined with encouraging marshals and great PB potential are the reasons why many regulars regard it as unmissable.
What you say: "This was a wonderful race – slick, well-organised, fantastic marshalling and fast results." DeedeeDoodle

10 Halstead & Essex Marathon
When? May 13
Why? The route takes in the country lanes of the Essex/Suffolk border and is flat with just a few slight uphills. Challenging but welcoming, the race tempts applicants with nice touches such as names on race numbers, a meeting place for Runner’s World forumites, facilities for personal drinks at water stations and unofficial pace groups.
What you say: "A great race in terms of cost, scenery, friendliness, spectator facilities – the complete experience." QB

11 Guy Fawkes 10, North Yorkshire
When? November 4
Why? A challenging, very hilly route that pushes you, makes you work, then just as you collapse over the finish line, you’re rewarded with masses of chocolate.

12 Flora London Marathon
When? April 22
Why? The 2007 FLM was the biggest ever in its 27-year history, with a field of 36,396. Nothing can top it for atmosphere and support, and this flat, big-city event is a winner every time.

13 Brathay Windermere Marathon, Cumbria
When? May 20
Why? Making a comeback after 21 years, this race gets top points for location, circling England’s largest and arguably most stunning lake. A tough course, but that’s the Lake District for you.

14 Rough ‘n’ Tumble 10, Wiltshire
When? January 14
Why? The mass of mud is the most talked-about aspect of this tough-but-rewarding race, which is described as "hard enough to make you cry".

15 Hell Down South, Longmoor Camp, Hampshire
When? November 4
Why? Some like it tough, and you definitely get that with this multi-terrain, assault-course of a race, with its hills, trails and water features. Conditions: muddy to very muddy.

16 Terminator 10, Wiltshire
When? February 25
Why? Just when it’s too late to turn back, you pass a sign that tells you that the warm-up is over. You are about to be put to the test. Awaiting you are Terminator Hill, The Sting in the Tail and the opportunity to bathe in mud.

17 New Forest 10, Hampshire
When? July 8
Why? Beautiful surroundings and a village fête atmosphere make this a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

18 Thompson Brothers Stockport 10, Greater Manchester
When? December 9
Why? There are a couple of challenging hills on the course, but what goes up must come down. Gingerbread at the end more than made up for the atrocious weather.

19 Edinburgh Marathon
When? May 27
Why? A revised route from the city to Musselburgh with a drop of 230ft meant runners could enjoy sights such as Arthur’s Seat and still chase down a PB.

20 London Santa Run
When? December 8
Why? Get into the festive spirit by running 6K around Battersea Park with 1,000 others dressed as Santa Claus (and some hardier souls in thongs and white beards).

21 Saab Salomon Hellrunner: Hell Up North
When? April 29
Why? Wading through water and mud, you think the worst is over, until you reach the most torturous section, where you pass finish signs but get turned away and back up a hill!

22 Salomon South Downs Marathon
When? June 16
Why? This point-to-point route from Arundel to Horndean traverses the relentless hills of the England’s downs, but the fantastic views are worth it.

23 Swansea Bay 10K
When? September 23
Why? A straight and almost entirely flat course along the seafront attracts PB hunters to one of the country’s most popular 10Ks.

24 Stamford Striders St Valentine 30K, lincolnshire
When? February 11
Why? This race is well on the way to becoming a classic, but, as finishers will tell you, it puts paid to the myth that the Lincolnshire area is flat!

25 Hastings Half-Marathon
When? March 11
Why? A popular pre-London event that re-traces the route made by the invaders of 1066.

26 Ashby 20
When? March 18
Why? This rural gem is another favourite with runners wanting to gauge their fitness levels ahead of the Flora London Marathon.

27 BUPA Great North Run
When? September 30
Why? The world’s biggest half-marathon. Autumn sunshine, big crowds, the Red Arrows and a seafront finale – what more could you ask for?

28 Llanelli Waterside Coast Half-Marathon
When? March 11
Why? A fast, coastal course, a big but not over-crowded field and excellent organisation. The race also goes that extra mile with free post-race food, massages and results by text.

29 Marlow Half-Marathon, Buckinghamshire
When? November 11
Why? Quiet country lanes through the Chiltern Hills make for a charming but very testing course that’s popular among beginners and is known for its friendly, local feel.

30 Not The Roman IX, Stratford-Upon-Avon
When? January 28
Why? A well-run, well-marshalled, early-season road race run over an unusual distance: it was originally nine miles but now it’s 12K.

31 Leeds 10K – Jane Tomlinson’s "Run For All"
When? June 25
Why? A 10K inspired and organised by Jane Tomlinson that delivers on its big-event billing with great crowds and a field that represents the whole running community.

32 Santa Dash 5K, Liverpool
When? December 2
Why? A record field of nearly 6,000 made this the biggest gathering of Santas in the world.

33 The Great Eastern Run, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
When? October 14
Why? After a 10-year hiatus, the Great Eastern Run returned in 2006 – and it’s here to stay. The flat course is very PB-friendly.

34 Puma Longleat 10K, Warminster, Wiltshire
When? February 4
Why? This figure-of-eight loop in a dramatic setting on the Marquess of Bath’s doorstep features a fast downhill finish – handy if you’re being chased by goats.

35 Bedford Harriers Oakley 20, Bedfordshire
When? April 1
Why? For runners looking to test their marathon potential, this undulating race on country roads presents the perfect challenge.

36 Herts 10K, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
When? October 14
Why? In just two years, this rapidly growing race has established itself as a well-organised multi-terrain challenge. The route gives runners the opportunity to tackle bridleways not usually open to the public.

37 Bedford Harriers Half-Marathon, Bedfordshire
When? December 9
Why? The last half in the racing calendar features a scenic, undulating course along country lanes in the Bedford Hills.

38 Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon, Kent
When? February 25
Why? This is a testing single-lap 13.1-miler through some of Kent’s finest countryside.

39 ASICS Fleet Pre-London Half-Marathon, Hampshire
When? March 11
Why? A month before the London Marathon, this gently undulating town-and-country course is a good opportunity to fine-tune your prep.

40 St Albans Half-Marathon, Hertfordshire
When? June 10
Why? The race’s challenging undulations are matched with great views and the ice-lolly for every finisher proved popular on a hot summer’s day.

41 Fresh’n’Lo Great Scottish Run, Glasgow
When? September 2
Why? The biggest mass-participation sports event in Scotland has more than 5,000 finishers, so a great atmosphere is guaranteed – as is a piper at every mile marker.

42 Rotary Shakespeare Marathon and Half-Marathon, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
When? April 29
Why? If you missed out on a place at the London Marathon, this spring 26.2-miler (and half) is a great opportunity to tackle a flat route.

43 Asics Reading Half-Marathon
When? March 25
Why? A grandstand finish inside Reading FC’s Madejski Stadium is the perfect ending to this perennially popular and well-organised race.

44 Edinburgh Forthside Half-Marathon
When? April 1
Why? 2007’s event saw a new start and finish section alongside Leith’s Ocean Terminal with a flat riverside course in between.

45 Nationwide Bath Half-Marathon
When? March 25
Why? Starting in the Georgian splendour of one of England’s most beautiful cities, this fast, two-lap event always sells out.

46 Puma Woburn 10K
When? March 4
Why? This race winds through some breathtaking Bedfordshire countryside, starting in Woburn Safari Park and taking in Abbey Deer Park.

47 BUPA Great South Run
When? October 28
Why? This popular Portsmouth 10-miler takes runners past landmarks such as the Historic Dockyard before finishing along the seafront.

48 Dewsbury 10K
When? February 4
Why? More than 1,000 runners enjoyed the fast out-and-back course through West Yorkshire in cold but bright conditions.

49 BUPA Great Capital Run 10K
When? July 15
Why? This 2007 debutant was an instant hit, with over 10,000 runners enjoying warm weather and the scenic, beginner-friendly route around London’s Hyde Park.

50 Asics Watford Half-marathon
When? February 4
Why? Forget PBs and be prepared for challenging hills in the opening few miles of this popular race – the first big Southern half-marathon of the year.


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Amusing to see the preponderence of tough/truly challenging races in the listing, particularly the top 10. It's apparently tough for a 10k canter around an industrial estate to get on the list - no matter how well organised. Location, location, location?
Posted: 23/01/2008 at 09:37

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