Flat, Fast & Furious: Are These The UK's 9 Easiest Races?
Whether you're looking to smash a PB or you just want an easy time of it, flat and fast races are as fun as they come
Three flat'n'fast 10k races
1. Cardiff 10k
September 2016 (exact date TBC)
One of the UK's most reliably popular races, this hurtle around Cardiff city centre is a flat, fast and fun event for PB-chasers and first-timers alike. For 2015's 30th anniversary race, the course was tweaked slightly to make it even more speedy and accessible. Whoop!
There's also the 2k Fun Run taking place just before the main event, if you fancy taking your tots along, or dressing up like a pantomime horse with your brother-in-law.
2. Oxford Town and Gown 10k
May 2016 (exact date TBC)
Whipping through ultra-scenic Oxford city centre at a rate of knots, this pacy and accessible race attracts both heads-down hardcore runners and fancy-dressed silly billys. Taking in historic sights and finishing in the University Parks, it's a tourist's dream.
If you'd prefer to knock out your 10k PB in the UK's other posh university city, a spin-off Town and Gown 10k takes place in Cambridge in October 2016.
3. Swansea Bay 10k
September 2016 (exact date TBC)
A popular fixture on the UK road-race calendar, the Swansea Bay 10k has two major things going for it: A) it's as flat and fast as a Formula One car, and B) the rugged coastal scenery is breathtaking.
Swansea Bay 10k has two major things going for it
Not that you'll be able to take it in properly, on account of you'll be moving at such a ferocious pace that'll it'll all just be a sand-and-sea-coloured blur.
Three flat'n'fast half marathons
1. Royal Parks Half Marathon
October 2016 (exact date TBC)
Arguably a more aesthetically pleasing route than that followed by the London Marathon, this ever-popular event winds through four of London's royal parks: Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James's Park and Kensington Gardens. If a fancy duchess was to run a half marathon – dressed in furs and pearls with a corgi tucked under her arm – this'd be the one.
With more than 16,000 runners every year it is a busy race, but the occasional moment of slowed-by-crowding won't hold you back from bagging an impressive time, as the route is as flat, smooth and leg-friendly as you'd expect from a bunch of parks designed for poshos to perambulate.
2. Bath Half Marathon
13 March 2016
The surrounding countryside is as hilly as you like, but by sticking to a two-lap circuit looping through the centre of Bath this ever-popular 13.1-miler manages to stay flat and fast throughout.
Yes, running the exact same route twice in a row is a bit of a swine – it's hard to avoid the nagging feeling of "But I already ran all this once!" the second time around. However, as you'll be running (and re-running) through one of the prettiest cities in the UK, it could be a lot worse. You could be in Slough. (Sorry, Slough.)
3. Liverpool Half Marathon
13 March 2016
Winding through Liverpool city centre, scenic Sefton Park and out along the famous Albert Dock, Liverpool Half Marathon has become a must-run both for those looking to bag a truly impressive finishing time, and those looking to ease themselves into half marathons in a non-gruelling way.
It's flat all the way – barring one solitary short, sharp incline
It's flat and fast all the way – barring one solitary short, sharp incline, and that occurs at the one-mile point anyway, when you've still got the revved-up energy to easily deal with such things.
Three flat'n'fast marathons
1. Greater Manchester Marathon
10 April 2016
With just 55-metres of gain along the entire course, Greater Manchester Marathon is officially the flattest in the UK. Starting in the shadow of Old Trafford, the route weaves through Stretford, Urmston, Altrincham, and Sale before looping back towards Man U HQ.
This year will see the 40th Greater Manchester Marathon take place – although the first one was back in 1908, so it's fair to say they missed a few years out there along the way.
One quick word to the wise: it's April, it's Manchester, it might rain. And by "might", we mean "almost definitely will".
2. Shakespeare Spring Marathon/Shakespeare Autumn Marathon
24 April 2016/November 2016 (exact date TBC)
Comprising eight-and-a-bit-laps of Long Marston Airfield in Warwickshire, this isn't the most dazzling or variety-filled marathon course in the world – but holy crap, it is flatter than a sat-on pancake. If all you're looking to do is get your head down and smash your PB, this is the place to do it.
Likewise, if you're looking to be a mega-champ at the 2016 London Marathon and you want a confidence-boosting rehearsal run beforehand then the Spring Shakespeare event is ideal.
Besides the full marathon, there are also 5k, 10k and half marathon races on the same day, plus a free fun run for kids.
3. Edinburgh Marathon Festival
28-29 May 2016
Declared the fastest 26.2-miler in the UK by Runner's World magazine, Edinburgh Festival is not only flat and speedy, it also takes place at the end of May, when running conditions tend to be pretty much dead-on perfect. If you can't beat your marathon PB here, you may as well saw your legs off and sell them on eBay, because you are done. (Don't actually do that though.)
If you can't beat your PB here, you may as well saw your legs off
Taking place over two days, the "marathon festival" also comprises a half marathon, a team relay, a 10k, a 5k and junior races. Something for everyone. Provided they like running, obvz.