Active summer challenges for everybody
Summer is supposed to be all about flashing the flesh, so what better way to ensure you get your body bikini-ready than to set yourself a fitness challenge over the coming months? Whether you fancy teaming up with a mate or two to raise some money for your favourite charity or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to smash your current personal best, there’s plenty going on across the UK between now and September. From bike rides to fun runs, half-marathons to mountain hikes and triathlons to full marathons, there’s something for everyone, whatever your fitness level.
The Virgin London Marathon (www.virginlondonmarathon.com/) is certainly not for the faint-hearted but is perhaps the ultimate goal for running junkies and seasoned pavement-pounders representing the culmination of months and months of hard training. This year's marathon has already taken place (22nd April) but if you fancy giving it a shot next year you need to start training now! Just imagine the buzz you’ll get from crossing that finishing line – however shattered you might feel and however long it takes you to get there it is such an amazing achievement. Taking in some of the best scenes and sights the city of London has to offer this iconic route has been run every year for over 30 years by up to 36 000 runners of all ages nationalities and abilities.
If the mere thought of attempting the full 26.2 miles makes you feel light-headed, there are plenty of less arduous but equally rewarding challenges to consider.
All over the country throughout the summer, thousands of women take part in one of the most popular and successful girls-only fun runs, Race for Life.
Since it began in 1994 Race for Life has raised over £450 million for Cancer Research – an incredible amount of money for a very worthwhile cause. To rapturous and encouraging cheers from the spectating supporters the participants usually dressed in pink can sprint run jog or walk the manageable distance between the start line and the finish line and many of them do it in honour of a loved one who was or is affected by cancer. With a refreshingly laidback approach to the ‘race’ itself it’s all about the taking part rather than completing the 5k in the fastest possible time.
Bupa's Great North Runs take place over the next few months with the main event (often attracting as many as 50 000 runners) on Sunday 16th September a half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields. For details of the other runs including the 10k Manchester (20th May) and Gateshead (22nd July) visit their official site at www.greatrun.org. There's also a 5k Great Winter Run in Edinburgh on 5th January 2013 - a fantastic opportunity to burn off all those inevitable Christmas indulgences!
Or maybe cycling’s more your thing: check out www.bike-events.com for a selection of nationwide organised bike rides from the Tour de Tendring (Essex 20th May) Manchester to Liverpool (3rd June) and Cambridge to Norwich (30th September) to the Classic Oxford Family Ride (6th May) and the Brighton 50 and 100 routes (23rd September). Each ride is organised to raise funds for a specific charity – for example the charity represented by the Bristol to Oxford route (1st July) is CLIC Sargent for Children with Cancer.
If you don’t fancy getting saddle-sore, but do want to take in some of the best scenery the UK has to offer, invest in a decent pair of hiking boots and take the Three Peaks Challenge (www.thethreepeakschallenge.co.uk).
You’ll need to be a fit and capable walker with a reasonable level of stamina to attempt this challenge.
It takes place on various dates throughout summer, and is an adrenalin-pumping, knee-trembling trekking adventure to remember, requiring you to reach the summits of three of the UK’s most vertiginous mountains – the catch being that you have to do all three within 24 hours, starting with Ben Nevis (Fort William, Scotland – almost 4,500 feet). Driving between sites, this is followed by the 3,200 feet climb to the top of the Lake District’s Scafell Pike and finally the highest mountain in Wales, Mount Snowdon (3,560 feet). You might be blistered, stiff and sore at the end of this challenge, but you’re sure to feel invigorated and very, very proud of yourself.
Other running events and fitness challenges this year include: the Whole Hog Adventure Run in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care (12th May), the Edinburgh Marathon (26th May), London’s MoonWalk and SunWalk (12th May and 1st July, see www.walkthewalk.org) Mull of Kintyre half-marathon and fun run (3rd June) Jim Jam Jog Edinburgh (25th July) Big Ben Nevis Triathlon (15th September) and the slightly madcap 7k Great Gorilla Run in London (26th September – gorilla costume advisable but not compulsory).
Go on – set yourself a goal buy a sturdy pair of running shoes and go for it!
Amanda’s upcoming webinar on 13th June will give novice runners some valuable advice about how to get started.