Runner’s World Personal Best Awards 2016: The winners

Judge for yourselves

The Runner’s World Personal Best Awards are decided entirely by the online votes of RW readers, with the Most Improved Race and Best New Race Awards calculated from our race ratings data. The only exception to this is our Outstanding Contribution Award, which is chosen by the RW editorial team.

The PB Awards, sponsored by Sports Tours International, took place at the Sunborn London Hotel on Wednesday 20th April 2016.

Best Retailer: Wiggle

2nd Sweatshop; 3rd SportsShoes

After Sweatshop’s dominance of this category since the inception of the PB Awards, you could have probably secured longer odds on someone else scooping the gong than on Leicester winning the Premier League, but online retailer Wiggle has stolen the show. A simple, user-friendly interface, great value (including free delivery), convenience and a big range of well-chosen, running-specific products have made Wiggle your favourite running emporium.

Best Women's Apparel Brand: Nike

2nd adidas; 3rd Asics

A hat-trick of top gongs for women’s kit in the last three years is a testament to the continued fusion of technical innovation and ‘athlet-chic’ aesthetic that make Nike’s apparel the gear of choice for the UK’s female runners. Cutting-edge fabrics, female-specific ergonomic cut and an eye for runner-friendly detail flow through everything in the range. And when it comes to style, you feel the Swoosh leaves other brands in the shade.

Best Men's Apparel Brand: Nike

2nd adidas 3rd Asics

It’s a clean sweep for the Oregon-based brand in the kit department. And again, it’s a triumph of style and substance with you casting your votes not just for the always effortlessly cool aesthetics, but also the excellent technical performance. Nike’s commitment to running-specific R&D has produced innovations like AeroReact fabric, that reacts to your sweat to optimise body temperature on the run, to Shield Flash reflectivity to keep you seen and safe on nocturnal trots.

Best Shoe: Asics Gel DS Trainer 21

2nd Adidas Ultra Boost 2; 3rd Nike LunarGlide 7

For a shoe to reach its 21st update shows some serious staying power, and the continuing evolution of the DS Trainer also saw it scoop the Best Update Award in our Spring/Summer 16 Shoe Guide. So what makes it such a favourite? Our testers lauded the light weight, excellent ground feel and seamless upper, along with just enough stability and support. So happy 21st, DS, with love from the nation’s runners.

Best Trail Shoe: Salomon S-Lab Sense

2nd Inov-8 Terraclaw 220; 3rd Adidas Kanadia 7

The latest iteration of what’s becoming something of an offroad classic has evolved with input from trail superstar Killian Jornet to deliver added durability and stability. It’s a lightweight, low-drop beast with an excellent ContraGrip outsole to tame any terrain in any conditions. An internal sleeve hugs the foot for a secure, comfortable fit, while the upper provides protection from trail debris and the elements yet remains sufficiently breathable for summer runs. And that, it seems, is just the package you want when you step off the pavement and into the wild.

Best Running Accessory: The Grid Camo

2nd Buffwear; 3rd Bodyglide

Runners and their foam rollers can have something of a love/hate relationship, but it seems that however much you may hate the pain inflicted by the undisputed king of rollers, you ultimately love the role it plays in helping to keep you running injury free. The cool new camo colours have updated the classic design, which comes in different lengths and uses various padded zones to tackle different areas of the body, breaking up knotted muscle fibres post-training.

Best Running Gadget: Garmin Forerunner 630 

2nd Fitbit Charge; 3rd TomTom Spark

Garmin continue to set the standard in GPS gadgetry, with the Forerunner 630 providing more personal data than a leak at a Panamanian law firm. Thankfully it’s all geared to improve your running. The 630 goes way beyond basic pace, distance and time, measuring physiological metrics such as cadence and ground contact time. It tests your lactate threshold to tailor your heart rate training zones, measures VO2 max to predict your race times, and even monitors your recovery to advise when to go hard or back off. All this comes via a simple, user-friendly interface with concise, easy-to-understand charts and graphs, and wireless upload to the Garmin Connect network to view and share your activities.  

Best Audio Product: Sennheiser PMX686i

2nd Aftershokz Bluez 2S Wireless Bone Conduction; 3rd Powerbeats 2 Wireless Earphones

These picked up the Editor’s Choice Award in our runner’s headphones test in March, and you concur with our judgment that they offer more than just the excellent sound quality you’d expect from Sennheiser. The runner-specific neckband makes it easy to slip them on and off during runs; there’s a small inline remote on the tough, durable cord, while the vertical in-ear design allows some outside sounds in for improved safety. Great value, too.  

Best Running App: Strava

2nd Garmin Connect; 3rd MapMyRun

Strava’s drive to become the go-to data app for runners as well as their traditional cycling community continues to pay dividends. Constantly evolving, with the addition of great new functionality such as the Strava Local runner’s city guides, but maintaining the classic user-friendly, easily-accessed treasure trove of data. Add tailored training advice and the social-competitive sharing of run data and you have a virtual coach and run club rolled into one.

Best Nutrition Product: CLIF Bar Coconut Chocolate Chip

2nd SiS Whey 20 Protein gels; 3rd TORQ Chew Bars

That something quite this delicious can actually be good for you surely proves beyond doubt that if there’s a God, she/he is a most definitely a runner. CLIF Bar’s simple philosophy of putting good food in to get good performance out delivers a combination of wholesome, delicious ingredients (including organic rolled oats), packing carbs to fuel working muscles and 11 vitamins (including B6 and B12) involved in energy release in the body. You clearly feel that it’s a recipe for success.   

Best New Race: Dorset Invader Half Marathon

An instant classic, scoring 99 per cent overall in your ratings, with the full 100 per cent of runners saying they will be back. This may be a new race, but organisers White Star running have an excellent pedigree, which showed in the choice of a beautiful – if demanding – route through the Dorset countryside, faultless organisation and trademark humorous touches adding to what was universally lauded as a fantastic atmosphere. Playful signage dotted the course and many runners embraced the Roman theme by running in fancy dress. ‘Brilliant in every way…11 out of 10’ said one runner, summing up your feedback nicely.

Most Improved Race: Harvel 5

It certainly wasn’t broke, but organisers Harvel Hash House Harriers have managed to ‘fix’ an already well-loved event to achieve an almost perfect 99 per cent overall rating. The five-mile multi-terrain out-and-back boasts a beautiful village setting, (optional) on-course beer and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener. Your comments on the 2015 race praised the ‘flawless organisation’, ‘village-fete atmosphere’ and ‘great sense of humour’. One runner declared it ‘probably the best run ever in the world’ and with 100 per cent of runners saying they’ll run it again, the only real problem the organisers have is quite how they’ll top it this year…

Outstanding Contribution: Bud Baldaro

Since being inspired by the sight of Ron Clarke shattering the world three-mile record half a century ago, Bud’s passion for and tireless devotion to our sport have been a constant shining light in British running. He’s coached at Cardiff, Loughborough and Birmingham Universities, guided Wednesfield High School to county and area titles, and had a long and glorious history with Tipton Harriers dating back to 1972 – once steering the club to all eight national titles in a single year.

He’s also coached elite athletes, including World 1500m silver medallist Hannah England, Commonwealth Games 1500m bronze medallist Bev Nicholson and Chicago marathon winner Marion Sutton, and inspired and guided many others while working with England Athletics as a National Coach mentor. Then there are countless grass-roots runners he’s helped by sharing his wisdom, knowledge and training know-how through the likes of RW.

Sadly, Bud has been battling against Parkinson’s disease in recent years but he continues to be a source of inspiration to runners of all ages and all abilities. A true legend.

Congratulations to all our winners this year - pictured here with Runner's World Editor Andy Dixon.