A brand new event, the Snowball Spinner Sportive offers breathtaking countryside and challenging routes, covering the Warwickshire landscape.
Starting at Warwick Racecourse, and mapped along the road surface, this ride is easily accessible and offers minimal preparation. Expect picturesque English villages and noteworthy country scenes, as you cross the River Avon and countless canals.
To welcome those of varying abilities, there are two routes on offer at this event – the 65 Epic and the 47-mile Standard. Both start at the racecourse, heading along Warwick Road, through Norton Lindsey and Snitterfield. After bordering Charlecote Park, the Epic splits off through Wellesbourne, circling back and heading through Oxhill and Wilmington. The route then rejoins the Standard at Lower Quinton before heading through Welfordin-Avon and Wolverton. Riders will finish back where they first started, greeted by protein-packed snacks and participation medals.
Both routes are fully marked, with mechanical support and pick-up wagons at the ready. Riders can take advantage of the Electronic Chip timing service on offer to check their times, with a web results service also available. This event makes for a perfect finish the year, offering beautiful scenery to help shake off those winter blues.
Promising to be a truly challenging event, the Roseberry Topping Trail Marathon will take runners up and along the North York Moors National Park, for an incredibly scenic finish to the year.
Covering 28.5 miles and climbing 5,000ft in total, this marathon is not to be considered half-heartedly.
Also on offer at this event is the half marathon and 10K, giving runners plenty of options for the day. All routes start in Belmangate, sharing the course until 4.7 miles in when the 10k runners loop back towards the start. The rest carry on until 8.5 miles when the half marathon runners start their reverse route. At this point, marathon runners will continue on through Kildale, scaling exposed trails across the moors to be greeted by breathtaking views along the way. The route then continues on through Castleton, before heading back through Guisborough woods towards the starting point.
All routes on offer will be fully marked and signposted, but runners will also be given route maps and instructions to avoid losing their way. There will also be several checkpoints, with pick-up wagons and marshals ready to offer help if needed. Prizes will be on offer for first, second and third male and female, giving a little extra motivation to those willing to accept the frosty challenge that Roseberry Topping has to offer.
What better way to bring in 2016 than with an ice cold dip in the waters at Salford Quays, which is exactly what this event offers.
Raising money for the Christies charity and their Teenage Young Adults Unit, by taking this icy dive you’ll also be helping out a good cause. Plus, jumping into the chilly waters might help to shake off the after-effects of those New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Located at Dock 9 of the Quays – previously used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games Triathlon – and promising quality-tested water, this event offers the best place to take a chilly New Year’s Day dip. Swimmers have the option to complete a 100m lap of the USwim icebergs, or just submerge themselves in the waters for as long as they see necessary.
There’s also no need to worry about safety, as the dock comes fully equipped with a safety team comprised of motorised boats and kayaks. Once swimmers have had enough of the Arctic temperature waters, they can warm up using the facilities on site, including hot showers and tents offering hot refreshments. A great way to welcome the start of a new year.
This is an important one if you want to get the best time you can. The course is fresher, you’ll beat the queues and bottlenecks at obstacles, and most importantly there’ll be less mud all over the walls and ropes, giving you at least a fighting chance of doing it unaided.
If you’re not running for time, pick some good race buddies. Racing this year, in a team of three, we each could have finished quicker individually than we did as a team, as it takes time getting three people through each obstacle. Yet the camaraderie and support you get is something special, and it certainly helps to have someone counting out your penalty burpees for you.
Be prepared for everything: thick mud, thin mud, being fully submerged in water and the ability to dodge tree roots on tricky woodland trail. The right shoes can make your race, yet the wrong ones can break your spirit. Inov8 is a popular brand amongst the elite racers, and my preferred X-Talon 212 by Inov8 is hailed as one of the best for all round anything-a-race-can-throw-at-you. Search out Mud Miles for a cheaper option that will still fare very well.
Spartan races are known for their heavy carries and this year’s Beast was no exception. We had sandbags, buckets filled with gravel, logs, two-at-a-time tyres, bricks and the boulder carry with an extra five burpees thrown in for good measure. If you spend your training getting used to varying weights and degrees of awkwardness, this won’t seem as bad when you add in running and negotiating a balance beam.
If you fail a Spartan obstacle, you take a penalty; 30 chest-to-floor burpees. Yes, the dreaded burpee. Best learn to love it.
There’s no better feeling than knowing you came, and conquered. Complete all three tiers of Spartan races (a Sprint, Super and a Beast) in one year, and you’re entitled to a special trifecta medal.
Spartan Races return to the UK next year. See a full list of events at www.spartanraceuk.uk. 2016 Pre-registration is open now
Next up in my race diary: airfield anarchy and the ocr uk championships held at nuclear fallout