Personal Best Awards 2011: The Winners

Since 2007, the RW Personal Best Awards has celebrated the best products, races and services in our sport. What makes the awards special is that they are chosen by you.

This year the product and service awards were all decided by online vote, while the race awards were worked out using runners’ feedback ratings from runnersworld.co.uk. Here are the winners of this year’s gongs.

Best Shoe: Adidas adiZero Mana 5

Adidas has struck performance shoe gold with this update of what was previously a little-known model. The adiZero Mana 5 won the RW Best Buy award in our Spring/Summer Shoe Guide (April 2011), scoring highly for durability, responsiveness, fit and comfort.

The level of cushioning and support belies its stripped-down construction – so much so that it’s suitable not only for races or short training runs, but also as an everyday training shoe. And at £67, it’s pretty good value, too.

Best Retailer: Sweatshop

High-five for Sweatshop! The country’s largest specialist running shop has topped the rankings for the fifth year in a row. Why? If it’s running-related and it isn’t a gimmick, Sweatshop will stock it. Oh, and each and every member of staff across its 29 branches and website is highly trained to offer specialist advice that’s tailored to your needs.

Best New Event: Farnham Pilgrim Marathon

You know a first-time race has got it right when nobody realises it’s new. The general feedback about the 2010 Farnham Pilgrim Marathon was that it felt established, such was the smoothness of proceedings. The course took in stretches of the North Downs, as well as country footpaths between Farnham and Guildford. Plus, the organisers intend to make this year even better. Sounds promising.

Best Gadget: Garmin Forerunner 110

All GPS watches are complicated, right? Wrong. In 2010, Garmin released the Forerunner 110, a neat, stripped-down gadget that carries the same simple functionality as many of its forebears, but without a lot of the functions that could cause technophobic runners to get confused.

The result? A substantially cheaper, lighter weight, easy-to-use device that clearly displays your pace, time, distance and total calories burned. Fewer bells and whistles, same accuracy. Simply put, you loved it.

Most Improved Event: NSPCC Milton Keynes Half-Marathon

From year to year, many races listed on the RW website differ by a few per cent in terms of their ratings, or stay the same. Not the NSPCC Milton Keynes Half-Marathon. Between 2009 and 2010 it jumped from 63 per cent to 77 per cent (overall rating).

The secret of its success? An improved fast course that takes in the Grand Union Canal, new disposable timing chips, a group warm-up, a post-race massage service and more post-race refreshments. Over 2,500 runners took part this year, a fearsome achievement for a provincial race.

Best Nutritional Product: For Goodness Shakes! Recovery powder sachets

The success of For Goodness Shakes! since its launch in 2004 is founded on two things: firstly, as a recovery drink, it does what it says on the bottle; secondly, it tastes great. But for some runners, carrying a 500g bottle to training or races wasn’t ideal, and not everybody liked the shakes at room temperature.

These powder sachets put paid to those problems. They weigh only 80g, the powder mixes with cold water without clumping, and the result tastes exactly the same as the bottled stuff. Job’s a good’un.