Race dif­fer­ently

Runner's World (UK) - - Make A Wish -

There’s noth­ing wrong with a steady diet of road races, but it’s well worth tast­ing some of the other of­fer­ings from the race scene’s smor­gas­bord...

Cross-coun­try ‘The beauty of cross-coun­try is that every course is dif­fer­ent, ren­der­ing com­par­isons mean­ing­less,’ says Bandu. ‘Lap splits and fin­ish times are irrelevant when you’re tear­ing up and down hills on a con­stantly chang­ing sur­face, which can be quite lib­er­at­ing.’ Cross-coun­try is tra­di­tion­ally club-based, but there are some open events and leagues, such as Nor­folk’s Rys­ton Run­ners Cross-coun­try Grand Prix se­ries (rys­ton­run­ners.org.uk), or the three-mile mud-and-hill fest that is the Salt­wood Box­ing Day Cross-coun­try Run in Kent (nice-work.org.uk).

Ob­sta­cle In­ter­rupt­ing a run to crawl un­der barbed wire isn’t ev­ery­one’s idea of fun, but don’t knock it un­til you’ve tried it. Many of the thou­sands who have are now hooked. Do take a group of friends – ob­sta­cle rac­ing is best tack­led in a team – but don’t take your best run­ning shoes. Ease in with The Royal Bri­tish Le­gion Ma­jor Se­ries’ be­gin­ner-friendly 5K (brit­mil­fit.com), or go big with Tough Mud­der’s 20+ ob­sta­cles over 10-12 miles (tough­mud­der.co.uk).

Fell All fell races fea­ture a sig­nif­i­cant hill or hills, but while some are epic in length and/or re­quire nav­i­ga­tion skills, there are plenty of shorter, more ac­ces­si­ble op­tions. The Fell Run­ning As­so­ci­a­tion (fell­run­ner. org.uk) lists hun­dreds of UK races, graded ac­cord­ing to dif­fi­culty: Cat­e­gory A races climb at least 50m per km, while the ‘eas­i­est,’ cat­e­gory C, must con­tain some fell ter­rain but can be up to 40 per cent on road.

Parkrun Not done one yet? Re­ally? With more than 400 tak­ing place every Satur­day morn­ing across the UK, you can’t be far away from one of th­ese 5K events. parkrun.org.uk

Ul­tra The ul­tra run­ning boom con­tin­ues apace as more and more run­ners cross marathon fin­ish­ing lines ask­ing, ‘What next?’ If you’ve ticked off the 26.2, five-and-bit ex­tra miles will take you into the world of ul­tra run­ning (31 miles/50km is typ­i­cally the short­est ul­tra dis­tance), though you can, of course, go a lot fur­ther...

Play safe. The Royal Parks Ul­tra is 50km of flat as­phalt with plenty of sup­port. roy­al­park­shalf.com

Savour a clas­sic. South Africa’s Com­rades Marathon is the world’s old­est ul­tra, with an an­nual field of 23,000 run­ners tack­ling the 89km (56-mile) course, which al­ter­nates be­tween start­ing or fin­ish­ing in Dur­ban each year. com­rades.com

Join the 100-Club. Race to the Stones’ chal­leng­ing 100km dis­tance is tem­pered by the rel­a­tively flat off-road course along the his­toric Ridge­way. race­tothe­stones.com

Tackle the big one. Some­thing of an icon in ul­tras, the Ul­tra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) is not only a tad over 100 miles long, but it also takes in 9,600m of Alpine climb­ing.

A re­lay Run­ning in a team of­fers ca­ma­raderie and tremen­dous fun. Re­lay races are hugely pop­u­lar in the US, thanks in part to the Ragnar Re­lay se­ries, which or­gan­ises overnight 200-mile re­lays for teams of six or 12 across the coun­try. Ragnar is plan­ning to launch in the UK next year so keep an eye on run­rag­nar.com. Or con­sider th­ese home­grown op­tions:

Round Nor­folk Re­lay (Septem­ber 2017, round­nor­folkre­lay.com) 17 stages, 198 miles, 24 hours – the multi-ter­rain chal­lenge of­fers teams a great bond­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Welsh Cas­tles Re­lay (June 2017, le­scroupier­srun­ning­club.org.uk) There’s a Tour-de-france feel in this two-day, 20-stage event, with yel­low jer­seys for in­di­vid­ual stage wins and moun­tain-stage prizes.

En­dure 24 Teams of two to eight run­ners com­plete as many laps of the fivemile route as pos­si­ble in 24 hours, while en­joy­ing a fes­ti­val at­mos­phere (it’s known as run­ning’s Glas­ton­bury).

A fun run Toe­ing the line of a race in which you won’t get a fin­ish time feels odd to many run­ners, but it can be a great way to re­vive a flag­ging mojo or get friends in­volved. Get splat­tered in a Color Run (the­col­or­run. co.uk), don a sumo suit (sumorun. com) or party through Glow in the Park sport­ing a retro head­band and neon bracelets (glowinthep­ark.co.uk).

MUD IS NO OB­STA­CLE Mud and muddy water, how­ever…

COUN­TRY MILES Off-road and out on your own

UL­TRA FINE Pass­ing Or­tahisar Cas­tle on The North Face Cap­pado­cia Ul­tra Trail in Tur­key

COLOUR FAST Paint the town red – and pink and blue…

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