This weekend runABC South turns the spotlight on races at the traditional distances of 10, 15 and 20 miles as the dates of the spring marathons have been entered on the 2018 wall chart.
Although most races are now measured in kilometres, we know the marathon distance is an anachronism from an earlier time and most 26.2 mile events still provide mile markers to help the many 'imperial athletes' with their pace judgement. For those (including this correspondent) who still weigh themselves in stones and pounds and prefer to drink beer in pints, there are some cracking old-fashioned marathon preparation races on offer in the south of England this weekend.
10 miles in January is a great workout for anyone planning a half or full marathon in the spring and there are two fine examples of the once ubiquitous distance on Sunday (21 January).
Ssangyong Canterbury 10 is the opening Kent Road Race Grand Prix event of 2018 and it starts on Pilgrims Way. Race HQ is at Christ Church University Sports Centre and proceeds support the Pilgrims Hospices. The undulating route enjoys spectacular views as it passes sleepy villages like Patrixbourne and Bekesbourne. Last year's winners were Abel Tsegay (Invicta, 52:47) and W45 Maria Heslop (Paddock Wood, 60:38).
The Fred Hughes 10 is based at St Columba's School, featuring a beautiful course around St Albans. The race incorporates the 2018 Herts County Senior Championships and has a 1,000 limit. The retro feel of this race extends to generous cash prizes and the recipients of this bonus in 2017 were Paul Martelletti (Victoria Park, 50:50) and W45 Joanne Kent (Barnet, 62:52).
A step nearer to the full marathon is provided by the 28th annual Benfleet 15. This challenging, multi-terrain course incorporates part of Canvey Island sea wall and showcases the fabulous scenery of the Hadleigh Downs (pictured). Race HQ is Hadleigh Country Park.
Finally, we have the Winter Tanners 20 at Leatherhead, organised by Surrey Long Distance Walkers Association. This is the 40th anniversary event and to mark the occasion a 40 mile walk has been added to the usual 20 mile and 30 mile programme. Primarily a challenge walk with minimal support, runners are welcome and most opt for the 20 mile 'sprint'.
Image courtesy Benfleet 15