Another year flies, or trundles, by and it’s time to look back on what stories got us interested this year. Our top ten most popular articles of 2021.

Rather than thinking back with rose coloured spectacles, we like pure numbers to see what people enjoyed reading about this year. Yes, part of that is down to the speediness of our team getting on the news, but it gives a chance to see what got people talking in the last 12 months, beyond over-privileged wallies having garden parties.

We asked the team what they thought would come out on top and our number one spot was easily guessed, so without further ado, here’s your 2021 top ten.

1. Shelby’s choice of burrito is considered poor

One of the biggest athletics and running stories of the year, in an Olympic year, is burrito related. There wasn’t much attention given to the ill-fated, and frankly comical, request for fundraising, but the initial announcement really was interesting to us all.

As ever there is still small part of me that does have concern for a case of a wrongful conviction, but every doper relies on us thinking that. When looking at the known facts it’s hard to see anything other than someone who is sorry they got caught. If this were a Russian or Kenyan athlete, no doubts would be raised by anyone.

2. Impossible record broken

From the saddening part of our sport, to the simply wonderful, Aleksandr Sorokin filling the unforgiving day with 24 hours of huge distance run. When the Lithuanian 24hr World Champ set off at world record pace in Poland this August, he had the confidence of a 100 mile world record behind him.

The metronomic consistency of the hard-working and dedicated former-croupier paid off big time, we’d hazard to say beyond his own wildest expectations with a 309.4km posting. Rumour has it he’s going after his own records in 2022, so watch this space.

Beth Potter at the Ribble Valley 10k Photo: Pete Brown

3. Five kilometre World Best for Beth Potter 

Funnily enough this was a spot of luck that the editor was watching this one, as one of my own coached athletes was in this race (and ran an excellent sub-15 min 5k PB). Just as they approached the finish, a couple seconds before, Beth Potter stormed across the Podium 5k line.

“Hold on a second, that’s pretty fast for Beth there…” and then the Twitter-sphere was alive with mention of an unofficial 5k world record at a grass-roots distance running event. Even if the record didn’t stand for verification reasons, the time was fast and now-triathlete was showing some seriously impressive leg speed.

4. Runner’s Shin Pain?

It was just looking like a list of news items until this random curveball came in, runner’s shin pain. Matt Bergin’s popular 2019 piece had somewhat of a resurgence in 2021 and we’re not entirely sure why. Does the increased uptake of running in the first lockdown mean that 12-18 months later everyone is having shin pain? Maybe.

Anyway, it’s a great article that gives an insight into the “What, why and how to treat”, so if your shin are sore when reading this, or after your next run, then check it out.

Maybe running in shin-gle beaches could be tough on the shins? Photo: Robbie Britton

5. Close, but no cigar for Walmsley

Way back at the start of the year there was some real excitement to get us going. Many of us love to see something impressive, but have a special place in our hearts for those who battle valiantly and fall ever so slightly short. This year it was Jim Walmsley.

The popular ultra-runner is not afraid of big targets, once saying on a run in Chamonix that he’d rather swing and miss going for the home run than not try at all and we can all respect that.

For the large part of the Hoka Project Carbon X, a rather fancy shoe advert that lasted over eight hours, the US trail-ultra running world champ looked spot on to break the 100k world best, until the final lap and the tougher second half of the loop pushed back. With a long finishing straight it wasn’t clear if the record was on or off until the final few seconds. We’re sure Jim will be back to try again, at least we hope so.

The Olympic marathon trial race in Kew Gardens. Credit: Nigel Bramley

6. Becs Gentry flying high

Another blast from the past, this 2020 article was undoubtedly popular around the time of the British Olympic marathon trial when there was a lot of noise around a Peleton instructor who was on the start line.

Strangely the two athletes, male and female, who had he most commotion pre-race didn’t have the headlines afterwards, so maybe that goes to show a little of the added pressure it can being.

7. RAMP up your warm-up

A peach of an article by our coach Tom Craggs. Something that happens before every race or session, or not if you’re been in the toilet queue too long, is a warm-up. Maybe this was searched by all of those people coming back from shin injuries after the first lockdown?

Warming up in the sunshine. Possibly a distant memory for many at the moment. Photo: Tim Lloyd

8. 10 fastest parkruns of all time

Another older article, from when we entered the first lockdown in 2020 and tried to keep up a weekly parkrun rankings but promptly run out of things to rank. This probably needs updating, so we’ll pop it on the January to-do list for those who like to see people run fast at the excellent Saturday morning celebration of movement and community.

9. Five key leg strengthening exercises

Once you’ve cleared up your shin complaints and learnt how to warm up properly, what’s next? Improving that leg strength obviously. Mike Chamber’s practical article gives some examples of the best exercises for our pins.

As a group, we’re all keen on running fast, but also just running consistently and enjoying our running. So everything that can be done to make us injury-proof and running happy, is popular with our readers.

10. Runner’s death at UTMB TDS.

Ending on a sombre note, but still an important one. Runner safety is important and hopefully there were valuable lessons from the incident at UTMB TDS race this summer. Speaking to those who were on the mountain at the time, it was a scary and confusing few hours for many involved.

For those who enjoy the writing on our website and would like to run faster or longer, then why not check out Robbie Britton’s 1001 Running Tips: The essential guide for runners. Available directly from the publishers or some good book stores (but not all of them).