If the racing calendar at the close of June was a relatively quiet affair, the first weekend of July brings with it a host of events across the north of the country. Ranging from the Hamsterley Forest 10K to the Lakeland Trails marathon, thousands of runners will be looking to put their spring training to the test in pursuit of some summer rewards.
On Saturday, Hamsterley Forest will welcome its first of two events over the course of the weekend in the shape of the Hamsterley Forest marathon. Organised by North East Marathon Club, the event is only in its second year and is known to represent a tough challenge for seasoned runners - last year's winner took 3:18:29 to complete the course.
The following day, up to 500 runners will return to the coniferous woodland for the Hamsterley Forest 10K. After some great feedback from the field last year, organisers Butterwick Hospice will be hoping that the event will be able to cement itself as a firm fixture in the trail running scene.
Looking west, Sunday will see the return of Southport half marathon. Starting and finishing in Princes Park, the race is entirely traffic free and is seen to represent a great opportunity for a summer PB. The event is also the first in btr Liverpool's Tour of Merseyside series, which involves taking on six different races over 7 days in a whistle-stop tour of the region.
At Coniston, the Lakeland Trails team will no doubt be eagerly preparing for the final events of their summer series, the Lakeland Trails marathon and half marathon. Taking in a complete circuit of Coniston Water, the races give panoramic views of Lake Coniston and the surrounding peaks of the Old Man, Swirl How, Wetherlam and Dow Crags.
In addition to the races above, this weekend will also see, among others, the Chevy Chase, Eccup 10 mile road race, Catford 10k, South Lakes half marathon and the Burn Valley half marathon. If you're taking part in another event that we haven't covered, please feel free to let us know where you are competing and how the preparations are going on our Facebook page.