If you'd like a running achievement you'll never forget - or you'd just like to use your running to explore more of the country you live in - you might just be on the right page.
Starting in the Malvern Hills and ending at Nottingham Castle, September's six-day, 175-mile Marathon of Britain is an off-road tour of hidden parts of England that most of us have only ever sped through on the motorway. It's organised by one of the friendliest, most charismatic people on the planet, and it's already a miniature classic.
Don't think we're being swayed because we're hosting online entry for the 2005 race (you can enter by post too). We're just terrifically excited that a race like this - traditionally the preserve of foreign countries - has now established itself on our doorstep.
Here's how it works: you navigate your way from one day's race village to the next, using a specially prepared map and instructions. Competitors often end up in informal pairs or teams, and this year there's an official team prize. The race provides and transports tents, breakfast and an evening meal, but you have to run with your week's food and the rest of your kit.
A few more things you might like to know: Past competitors traditionally help newbies prepare - they'll be checking the RW forums, for instance. There's a two-day practise race in March. The main race consists of consecutive days of 17 miles, 29 miles, 32 miles, 33 miles, 54 (yes, 54) miles, 10 miles Checkpoints and water stations roughly every six miles. It costs £749 (£786.50 by credit card) including six days of meals, tented accommodation and a hotel at the end.
As RW columnist Andy Blackford said in 2003: "The MOB does what all great races do. It binds a band of people together in a huge, pointless, epic enterprise that each of them will always count among the defining experiences of their lives."
|So you want to run the Marathon of Britain...|