1. Endure 24- Aldermaston
I first participated in this 24 hour trail race over a 5 mile lap in 2013 as part of a 7 person team and was taken in so much that I signed up to the 2014 event as a soloist as soon as entry opened. The first year we had blazing hot sunshine, the second year it was thunder, lightning and heavy rain but neither affected the immense atmosphere, camaraderie and inspiration this race brings. It’s become the highlight of my own and my running club’s sporting year and will remain on my annual calendar for as long as I’m lucky enough to be able to put one foot in front of the other.
2. English Schools Track & Field Championships
As a junior track runner this was the be all and end all of my year. Pretty much every race was planned around this event weather it was in preparation or to chase the qualifying time I so desperately wanted year after year. I went to watch for 3 consecutive years and then participated in 3 championships in a row in Exeter in 2001, Nottingham in 2002 (where I was the county team captain) and in Sheffield in 2003. Every single year the organisation, professionalism, support & competitiveness is as good as any junior level competition there is anywhere.
3. Tough Guy- Perton, Wolverhampton
This is the original obstacle course race. Starting in 1987 and running every year since it was the world’s first and is still one of the very best and toughest. Ran at the end of January purposely so that the weather is at it’s coldest this course has some of the biggest and most punishing obstacles on the planet including the infamous torture chamber- a dark, underground wooden cabin no more than 3 feet in height which requires you to crawl from one side to the other whilst being electrocuted from dangling tentacles. It attracts around 6,000 competitors from all over the world. I made my debut in 2014 and have been back every winter since.
4. Watford Athletics Club Open Graded Meeting.
There races take place every two weeks throughout the spring/ summer and I have taken part in them ever since I have been running setting numerous PB’s including my current 1500m & 3k bests. They offer a second to none opportunity for track runners of all ages to get in races amongst others of a similar ability level with the sole purpose of running fast times. They are hugely popular regularly hosting 10-15 1500m races and 15-25 800m races on any one night.
5. Red Bull Steeplechase- Peak District
This event started in 2012 and I’d heard great thing about it over the past two year so just had to check it out for myself and it did not disappoint. Set in the heart of the beautiful Peak District you’d have to go a long way to find a more stunning location for a race and the all round event experience was of the highest quality.
It has a unique format in that 375 male racers start yet only 30 get to finish as there are 3 knock out points in different villages as you reach the church steeple. The first point is at mile 8 where 125 racer are knockout, the next point is at mile 12 where a further 125 are eliminated from the race and the final knockout point is at mile 18 where only the first 30 earn the right to finish.
This is a fell race with very little flat running and some of the steepest hills imaginable. After the race a lunch is put on for all runners and spectators offering two hog roasts, a BBQ and a fully stocked bar all free of charge. On top of all this, for the £25 entry fee you also get a top quality hoody, two bags and a medal making this possibly the best value for money event going.
6. Olympic Anniversary 5 mile Race 2013- London
This event offered a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to be the first runners back into the Olympic stadium on it’s reopening exactly one year on from the London 2012 games. Competitors were selected at random from a ballot entry which closed within an hour of it’s release time. I was lucky enough to be chosen and enjoyed every moment. The course was ran around the Olympic park taking in many of the famous venues from the games including the media tower and the velodrome before entering the stadium for the final 300m in front of thousands of supporters. I finished in 17th place just outside of my personal best which I was happy with after nursing a groin injury in the couple of weeks previous but I wasn’t going to miss this one. I then took part in the family fun run which offered another chance to get on the track, this time with my little girl. Sharing the moment with her made this event as special as it could possibly be then just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I met my running hero Paula Radcliffe who held my daughter for a photo.
7. The first OCR UK Championships 2015- Kelevdon, Essex
This event was the world’s first independent obstacle course race national championships. It was ran by Obstacle Course Racing Association UK and held at Nuclear races venue in Essex.
In my opinion it had everything a competitive OCR should have with a perfect mix of regular obstacle, natural ones, running sections and tough technical obstacles that all required mandatory completion but still kept the fun factor of the sport on what was an impressively planned out 16 km course.
A wristband system was in place where by officially trained adjudicators were in place to cut the bands of anyone who didn’t complete any obstacle in the correct way. The rules stated that you could have as many attempts as you wished but failure resulted in the lose of your band and a 4 minute time penalty on any future obstacle not completed.
8. Europe’s Toughest Mudder 2017- Grantham
In 2017 Tough Mudder rolled out their first ever competitive series of races which included a set of 8 hour night races. All the other events were across the pound in either America or Canada but luckily their was one in the UK and it was held at their Midlands venue so there was no way I was going to miss it. The challenge was to see how many 5 mile/ 20 obstacle laps you could run throughout the night. The race started at midnight and ended at 8am.
I managed 7 laps for 35 miles which placed me in 7th and second Brit in what was a world class filed.
9. British Milers Club Grand Prix Series
The BMC host 5 events in their GP series between May and August across the UK each year. These are some of the highest standard middle and long distance races the British isles have to offer attracting many international runners as well as the UK’s best seniors while also providing races for many juniors and up and coming runners. I have participated in many of these events every season I have raced seriously on the track setting several PB’s, qualifying marks and national standard times including my best ever race in 2003 at Wythenshaw in Manchester when winning the 800m F race in my fastest time of 1.52.86.
10. Nuclear Blackout- Kelvedon, Essex
Nuclear Blackout is part of a series of races held each year by Nuclear Races on their permanent site at Kelvedon Hatch which features the unique nuclear bunker. For most of the year this is a tourist attraction but during the Nuclear Blackout race you get the opportunity to actually run through it. This has to be one of the worlds most unique obstacles.
What I also love about this race is the concept. It’s so different to the norm. Not only is it ran at night in the pitch black with only the light for your head torch to guide you but it’s also ran over time rather than distance with the winner being the one who covers the most amount if 5k laps in the 2 hour time limit. Add to all this all the other awesome obstacle Nuclear provide and the unearthly amount of mud this course seems to produce whatever time of year it is (in 2014 Blackout was held in March and September) and you have a truly brilliant experience like no other.
This race holds a special place in my heart as it was where I qualified for the OCR world championship and by winning Nuclear Races paid for my travel to America for the champs.