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When Jez Bragg signed up to do his first London Marathon, as a university student in 2002, it was supposed to be a one-off for charity. Until then, his main athletic feats were on the rugby pitch, where he played open-side flanker in a pack of hulking forwards. Bragg had dabbled with five-and eight-mile fun runs in his teens and completed the Great North Run half marathon in 1999, but what happened next surprised even the man himself.

With his first marathon conquered in the impressive time of 3:19, Bragg started exploring the world of trail running and ultramarathons, seduced by the promise of epic scenery and adventure. After not only competing in, but winning his first multi-day trail event, a 175-mile, six-day race across the Midlands in 2004, he was hooked. In 2006 he set a new course record at the 95-mile West Highland Way Race in the wilds of Scotland; in 2009 he secured the first of his three victories at the Fellsman, a 60-mile traverse of rugged moorland in the Yorkshire Dales; and in 2010, aged just 29, Bragg was victorious in the legendary 103- mile Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) event around the mountainous borders of France, Italy and Switzerland.

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Motivational mantras, preferably overlaid onto a picture of a runner in a dramatic landscape, are ubiquitous on social media. That isn’t to say they don’t have their uses: I have a couple of things I mutter to myself when the going gets tough although they’re unsuitable for publication unfortunately. I don’t believe the no one-size-fits-all mantras work because every runner is unique and has their own motivations. This variety is reflected in the sheer breadth of organised events available to runners right now. Which is why we’ve curated a list of 100 race (page 57) from both the UK and abroad, that we feel represents the scope of running for the remainder of 2017. From 10Ks to ultras, from road to trail, there’s something here for the beginner, veteran or just anyone who wants to simply try something new. Speaking of races The Marathon des Sables has been given the sobriquet of ‘toughest race on the planet’ so we felt duty bound to find out for ourselves if this claim is true. Our runner’s report (page 34) tells us that while ability is obviously essential, being able to get along with and support your fellow runners is the most important attribute required. Of course not every run has to be a race and there’s still satisfaction to be found in creating your own running adventures (page 21) or building goals from the reams of data floating around out there (page 42). Again it’s down to what individual runners want from their sport. All running together but with different destinations.