YORKSHIRE TRUE GRIT DARK SKIES
Newburgh Priory Estate, York
Picture this: 50 Miles, on a bike, at night, in the middle of February. Are you sold yet? The Yorkshire True Grit Dark Skies event starts just as the sun is beginning to set, and journeys from the base of the Howardian Hills to the North York Moors and back. With your senses heightened as darkness sets in, strange noises from surrounding wildlife and the gleaming constellations above will seek to distract you from the task ahead (and maybe they will, just a little). But as your mind and stamina are pushed to their limits, you’ll enjoy one heck of an adventure.
RUN YORKSHIRE ROTHER VALLEY 5K AND 10K
Rother Valley Country Park, Sheffield
If your go-to fitness fix is a run around the block, why not take things one step further and challenge yourself to a 5k or 10k race? And before you panic, please don’t let the word ‘race’ scare you. Most running events are casual and attract entries from all level of athletes, from total beginners to running club-pros. And if you’ve never entered before, the Rother Valley could be the perfect one to try. Set in the picturesque Rother Valley Country Park, both the 5k and the 10k runners follow the exactly same (mostly flat) course, either doing one lap or two around the main lakes – so you and your mates can go along together, regardless of your varying fitness levels, and make a day of it out in the fresh Yorkshire air.
Craven Leisure and Aireville Park, Skipton
Skipton Triathlon is the largest pool-based triathlon in the North of England, meaning it’s a perfect place for total beginners to try their hand at this gruelling sport, (as well as being a great event for seasoned triathletes to keep their fitness up to scratch). Beginning with a 400m swim in Craven Leisure Centre, you’ll then get on your bike for 22km, starting by the Gargrave Road War Memorial and heading out of town past Broughton Hall, around to Thornton before retracing the route back to Skipton. You’ll then dismount and enter the final stage of the race: the running part. The route will take you into Aireville Park, right up to the Leeds Liverpool canal before completing your first loop along the top wood path, (spoiler alert – there are two loops to complete before you can get your hands on that finisher’s medal).
RUN DURHAM DALTON PARK 5K, 10K AND JUNIOR 2K
Dalton Park Shopping Centre, Seaham
If running’s your game, then where better to test your mettle than in a race? Don’t worry though, we’re not talking too competitive. The Run Durham Dalton Park Spring races give you the choice of a 5k or 10k route, and there’s a 2k circuit for the little ones, meaning you can really make it a family affair. Jog through the Shopping Outlet itself and along a disused road on this circuit with a difference (and a small climb) and, when you finish, you’ll be able to check your performance using chip timing, proudly show off your finisher’s medal and don your race t-shirt. Oh, and you’ll even get 10 percent discount in the Dalton Park New Balance shop. So no matter where you place, everyone’s a winner.
THE MIGHTY DEERSTALKER
Innerleithen, Scottish Borders
Legend tells of a cult running event in the Scottish Borders, whose distance is a closely-guarded secret, only known to the Laird, his Ghillies, and anyone with a GPS watch. This infamous course sends you across rivers, through forests and over a mountain or two in the pitch-black darkness on a brisk March night… What’s not to love? With three distances available to choose from, take on the Half ‘Stalker to get a taste of what’s on offer, the Full ‘Stalker for a proper helping of brutal mountain action, or, for those who need to push themselves beyond their limits, the leg-destroying Double ‘Stalker, which is where your most brutal adventure awaits.
MOD ROCKER SPORTIF
This 66-mile cycling sportif is set in the quiet Otterburn ranges – a remote area used, during the rest of the year, by the Ministry of Defence – so is as close to a closed-road event you’ll get in these parts. Taking in some challenging climbs up and over one of Northumberland’s only Alpine-style passes, you'll be rewarded for all your pedalling with some outstanding views, and can recharge at the various feeding stations along the route. Best of all, the ride starts and finishes at a pub – The Rose & Thistle in Alwinton – so you can fuel up with a coffee beforehand and you already know there’ll be an ice-cold glass of something nice waiting for you when you finish.