Don't you just want to race here?
Read on to discover where this venue is...one of several sold-out events in the south this weekend as the lockdown finally begins to thaw
The elite have been tearing up the all-weather tracks and tarmac over 5K since Lockdown 3.0 started to unfreeze on Monday 29 March. Now it's the turn of the club athletes, running group members, and unattached social runners to take their first 'cautious but irreversible' steps in competition.
This weekend sees the return of several larger events, with all the necessary Covid-secure protocols in place, over race distances from 10K to a full marathon on surfaces ranging from beautiful, untouched trails to tranquil country lanes.
The fully sold-out New Forest Half Marathon that also features 14K and 10K options, is on Saturday 10 April. Organised by UK Running Events, this event is set in the exclusive Hinton Admiral Estate in New Forest National Park, which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Runners have been given unique access to this unspoiled private estate and will pass through parts of the estate that have never been open to the public before (pictured above). These untouched areas of the New Forest are just as nature intended them to be, with magnificent scenery, where you may well encounter deer roaming free and grazing on the side of the trails.
On Sunday 11 April, prolific race promoters Nice Work are back in action with the Podplus Kent Spring Marathon and Half Marathon. Both races use the quiet lanes surrounding Ashford, Westwell, and Charing with a section along the Pilgrims Way. The marathon is a two-lap, scenic course with the half marathon runners covering a single lap.
Just 10 miles west of Charing lies the Kent village of Headcorn, the venue of Sunday's Headcorn Half Marathon which starts and finishes on Days Green. Race HQ is at Headcorn Primary School and the rural course takes you past the Smarden Bell PH, through Egerton Forstal and Southernden before returning to Headcorn.
Finally, St Clare Hospice 10K at Hastingwood, Essex is going ahead on Sunday. This is another rural idyll of a course that takes the runners on a single lap to Magdalen Laver, Threshers Bush, and Foster Street on country lanes. Just like most events there is an entry restriction and this has been reached well in advance, so please do not attend unless you are already registered.
Rest assured, runABC South will bring you all the latest news and results next week.
Image: New Forest Half Marathon course courtesy UK Running Events