Could you finish Britain’s toughest road race? – Runner’s World

Could you finish Britain’s toughest road race?  Runner’s World

cardiff half marathon

Huw FaircloughGetty Images

A big new study from New Balance has indentified Britain’s toughest road marathon, based on the DNF (Did Not Finish) percentage.

The winner – and by some margin – is the Langdale Marathon, which has a 15% DNF rate. Perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider its elevation profile – runners must conquer a whooping 3,400ft of ascent, the rough equivalent of running up Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa.

The race takes place in the Lake District every October. The appropriately named Alan Hilley triumphed in the men’s category this year, finishing in 2:59:14 while Helen Knight won the female category, finishing in 3:34:06.

The elevation profile of the Langdale Marathon. We hope you like hills.

While it’s easy to see why Langdale tops the list, the appearance in 5th place in the research of the pancake-flat Abingdon Marathon might initially seem surprising. But it’s 4.8% DNF rate is likely a result of the fact it’s a PB destination for runners who, if falling behind their hoped-for time, are perhaps more likely to pull the plug than those less concerned with collecting a medal at the end of the race.

Other stats to emerge from the survey include the discovery that 65% of people who drop out will do so after the halfway mark. That perhaps points to lack of the right training and/or poor pacing as a reason, rather than, say, an existing injury, which might trigger an earlier exit.

The most significant marker for participants dropping out was mile 23, but this was significantly higher for men than women: 16% of men who DNF’d did so with three miles to go, compared with 5.4% of women.

Jonny Mellor, a New Balance marathon runner, interpreted the data: ‘Often, the reason behind [a DNF] is the lack of energy. If runners aren’t fuelled enough, they can reach the half distance, but after that, they can no longer continue.

‘Another reason for not finishing is not respecting the distance. The marathon is a hard race and requires a firm training plan that includes recovery time and resting. Not preparing seriously leads to not finishing.’



DNF percentage


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