Races of the Year 2011: Half-Marathon

The Bupa Great North Run Picture credit: Getty Images

1. Mull of Kintyre Half-Marathon, Argyll & Bute, Scotland
Date in 2012: June 3
You’ll need more than just a day to soak up the remote beauty of Mull – so it’s a good job the organisers lay on a pre-race pasta party and post-race ceilidh. This race festival scored highly for atmosphere – and the flat route along Campbeltown Loch and Westport Beach makes for an unforgettable run. Enter online.

2. Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon, Kent
Date in 2012: February 26
This is a fixture that’s drawn thousands of runners to the Kent countryside for more than 25 years. After you’ve conquered the testing single-lap course with its two infamous climbs and numerous undulations, kick back at the finish area, which has masseurs, refreshments, entertainment and warm changing rooms. Enter online.

3. Chippenham Half-Marathon, Wiltshire
Date in 2012: September 9
An event of simplicity and understated beauty, this is a true racer’s race, with overall finishing times getting faster year on year. The race is an anticlockwise loop starting and finishing at Chippenham Sports Club, and passes through the rural villages of Stanley, the Tythertons, Avon, Kellaways and Langley Burrell.

4. Four Vilages Half-Marathon, Helsby, Cheshire
Date in 2012: January 22
Kick off your racing year with a bang at this ever-popular rural road race, now entering its third decade. It moves with the times though – you’ll be texted your finish time and position straight after the race. Enter online.

5. Water of Life Half-Marathon, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Date in 2012: March 25
Starting and finishing in the prestigious Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre, you’ll follow the Thames as it winds between Marlow and Henley before looping back through beautiful countryside. This welcoming, spectator-friendly race also lays on top facilities at the riverside race HQ. Enter online.

6. Kent Coastal Half-Marathon, Margate, Kent
Date in 2012: September 2
It’s not just the stunning coastal scenery that’ll take your breath away – following the Thanet coastline, you’ll be met with some testing climbs along this out-and-back course. But you’re in safe hands at this well-organised UK Athletics bronze graded event.

7. ASICS Wilmslow Half-Marathon, Cheshire
Date in 2012: March 25
This year’s England Half Marathon Championship host was a winner with RW readers. A one-lap lasso-shaped course on mainly flat, quiet roads, it’s not the most glamorous of races – but its quiet authority is what you love, judging by your comments. Enter online.

8. Marlow Half-Marathon, Buckinghamshire
Date in 2012: November 4
RW readers raved about the ‘village feel’ of this race – an impressive feat considering 1,500 runners turned out for the chance to explore one of England’s prettier corners.  There are some tough hills thrown in along the car-free route that’ll keep you on your toes.

9. Bupa Great North Run, Newcastle, Tyne & Wear
Date in 2012: September 16
What can we say about the daddy of them all, the world’s biggest half marathon? Over 50,000 runners squeeze on to the roads of South Shields to soak up 13.1 miles of Geordie hospitality – from jelly babies and Elvis impersonators to high-five-happy spectators and welcome squirts from water-pistol-toting nippers.

10. Perkins Great Eastern Run 13.1, Peterborough, Cambs
Date in 2012: October 14
This is a race that last year posted the second fastest half marathon time in the country (62:18). Added to this is a medal engraving service, and free training workshops leading up to the race for local entrants.