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10 best races for 2010 (part 1)

December 21, 2009

I’ve started thinking about my races for the next year – outside of the obvious Bath Half and Paris Marathon. Since it’s the season for lists, I thought I’d create one of my own. These races are largely within easy driving distance of Oxfordshire, and have been chosen based on my entirely subjective criteria – that they are either fast, fun, outstandingly scenic, or carry a real feeling of being an ‘event’. If you think any are missing, let me know.

  • Dursley Dozen – 14 February 2010
A tough near-half marathon of 12 miles, run over 1600 feet of descent (which masks several tough climbs), and combining racing with elements of the assault course. This is a race I haven’t run, and it’s likely to be something I need to check with my partner before writing off that particular morning… It does, however, promise to be a memorable trek.
  • Oxford Town & Gown – 16 May 2010 (TBC)
The Town & Gown 10k race is organised to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. Although it snakes through the centre of Oxford, it never seems to make the most of the potential scenery (runners pass several colleges and through University Parks, but spend more time than ideal trotting through some rather nondescript residential roads). It is, however, probably the biggest race in the region, attracting something in the region of 3000 runners.
Technically, it’s a fast and flat course, although it contains a lot of fairly tight turns and is prone to congestion as it twists and turns through a relatively small area in the centre of town. PB potential, certainly, but perhaps more importantly, it’s a really accessible race that appeals to a broad range of abilities.
Website details TBC
The North Lodge of the Oxford University Parks...
Image via Wikipedia
  • Chiltern Chase – 13 June 2010

A multi-terrain 10k running from the picturesque village of Ewelme, through the surrounding undulating countryside. Run over tarmac, woodland paths and grass, it’s a challenging run with a great atmosphere. I ran this in 2009, and thoroughly enjoyed the run (even if it was a hard slog).

Some of the highlights include chip timing (albeit off the gun – although it’s not necessarily a course for PBs), a village fete feel to the race HQ and circling red kites throughout. It also has some nice quirky touches, such as signs around the course reminding runners to enjoy the panoramic views.

  • Waddesdon Manor 5k – 21 July 2010
Set in the National Trust grounds of Waddesdon Manor, this mid-week race is raced over a short and sharp out and back course. What sets this race apart is the scenery and the level of challenge – it starts with a prolonged downhill stretch before promptly turning back on itself and becoming a prolonged uphill stretch. The key to a good race is in pacing.
Run on a mid-summer evening, if the weather’s good it’s just one of the best things to do after work.
The terrace and parterre, Waddesdon Manor
Image via Wikipedia
  • Frieth Hilly 10k – 17 October 2010
A small, well-organised race that lives up to its name. A multi-terrain trek through some very scenic countryside, spurred on by some very supportive marshals and – rather remarkably – organised by non-runners. Quite simply, the most enjoyable race I ran in 2009, and a an absolute must-run for 2010.
The course carries challenges, with vertiginous climbs and knee-trembling descents, but it can all be washed down with a good mug of tea and a slice of some rather memorably lovely cake at the end.
Part 2 of the 2010 race preview can be found here.
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