Jersey Half-Marathon, Channel Islands, Nov 21
Known for its dramatic north cliffs and golden sand, Jersery now has a cracking half-marathon to shout about, too. Starting and finishing at St. Clement’s athletics track, the race is a true gem. The course climbs into the centre of the Island before circling down past the impressive Mont Orgueil Castle. From there, there’s a picturesque dash across the east coast, and if the weather is fine you could catch a glimpse of France. A great excuse for a weekend away.
Leicester Marathon, Nov 21
If you could ever describe a race as being double-edged, the Leicester Marathon would squarely fit the bill. The race meanders through chocolate-box villages and scenic countryside. However, while the views are picture-postcard material, the terrain is anything but idyllic. The route twists and turns over several large climbs, ruling out any chance PB's for all but the toughest.
Crowborough 10K, Sussex, Nov 28
Take a stretch of the best Sussex countryside, mix it with a river crossing and a challenging course and you’ve got a recipe for a tasty success of a race. The Crowborough 10K kicks off with a fast downhill stretch leading into the surrounding rural and urban areas.
But a near mile-long slog that rises, levels off and then rises again is certain to stretch you. Once you've dragged your body over the crest, you can buckle down and head for the finish, which is also on a hill. And once you’ve crossed the line, you get to do it all again for the second lap...
We know what you're thinking: what better way see out 2004 than with a marathon? Luton might not have the razzmatazz of some of the larger UK marathons, and it may ‘only’ attract a few hundred entries, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere and friendly organisation. Run over an attractive three-lap course, that’s deceptively undulating, the route takes in local countryside and pathways. Watch out for the five-hour time-limit. If the marathon doesn’t take your fancy, why not try your hand at the three-man relay race?
GRIM, Hants, Dec 5
Continuing the off-road theme, the GRIM eight-mile, has, since its inception, become one of the biggest dates in the off-road calendar. A change of date (this is second GRIM in less than 12 months) and a few minor course modifications haven't dampened the enthusiasm of the 540 RW members who’ve already signed up.
Set within an Army vehicle testing ground, the action kicks off with a brisk dash along sandy pathways, before climbing up to the highest part of the course. If this just sounds like the traits of your normal Sunday jog, then the waist-high, ice-cold water-filled ravines that you’ll next encounter will make all the difference.
Add camouflage netting to crawl under, plus some tough man-made mounds, and another series of those ravines, and you may just have earned a highly rewarding finish line....