Big Fun Run
Date for the diary: Various events between 14th July and 28th October
What is it? A series of very relaxed 5K races that take place all over the country. Forget about setting a PB and take the whole family along to complete the course at a leisurely pace.
Where is it? There are 20 venues for the races, from Brighton and Eastbourne on the south coast to Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.
First step: Work out what your closest event is and sign up at bigfunrun.com. It costs £13.50 to enter a race and under fives run for free.
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Date for the diary: 3rd August 2018
What is it? Just one mile – how hard can it be? Very hard, it turns out. Put it this way: on a track or a flat road you’d expect someone to have to run well under five minutes to win a one-mile race. On this insane uphill course, 2017’s winner ran the mile in 8min 24sec, and second place took 9min 11sec. This has a very good claim to the title of Britain’s hardest one-mile race.
Where is it? In south Wales near Wattsville. The race is put on by the Islwyn Running Club.
First step: For more info visit islwynrunningclub.org.uk/murder-mile. There will be online entry available for the race later in the year or you can print an entry form. It costs £5 to enter.
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The Railway Ultra
Date for the diary: 4th August 2018
What is it? Don’t be put off by the name – you don’t actually have to run an ultramarathon at this event near Telford in Shropshire. The run is a 9.4-mile (15.1km) out-and-back course and you can do from one to four laps of it, depending on the condition of your pins.
Where is it? The off-road course follows the banks of the River Severn between Ironbridge and Bridgnorth along a disused railway line. The views of the river are top-notch and you’ll get to admire The Iron Bridge in Ironbridge, which was the first iron bridge in the world. We’ll stop saying iron bridge now.
First step: Decide how many laps you want to do and sign up at codrc.co.uk/railway-ultra. Entry costs £28-£35.
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Asda Foundation York 10K
Date for the diary: 5th August 2018
What is it? A 10K around York, which easily makes the top five of Britain’s most scenic cities. Probably top three.
Where is it? The race begins at York racecourse, from where it’s about 3km into the heart of the city and landmarks like the Minster and Clifford’s Tower, before looping back to the racecourse to finish.
First step: Head to runforall.com to book your spot. Entry costs £30.
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Race The Train Tywyn
Date for the diary: 18th August 2018
What is it? 22.5km (14 miles) of muddy trail running in the Welsh countryside, with the aim of running from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn and back faster than a steam train completes the same journey (on tracks, of course).
Where is it? Race the Train starts and finishes in Tywyn on the Cardigan Coast in mid Wales. As well as tackling the race itself, book in some time to explore the coast and the southern reaches of Snowdonia while you’re there.
First step: Entry costs £32. Head to racethetrain.com to sign up.
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Red Bull Quicksand
Date for the diary: 1st September
What is it? A unique one-mile event that takes place on a beach. Runners have to clamber over four large sandcastles and three smaller ones, making it one of the harder one-mile events you’re likely to come across.
Where is it? Margate in Kent. Pop into Dreamland afterwards for some old-school amusement park japes.
First step: There are only 750 race places available in total, so head to redbull.com sharpish to snag a place. Entry costs £30.
Date for the diary: 2nd September
What is it? Most runners wait until they’ve finished their race before they start boozing, but not participants in this half marathon in aid of charity Street Child. Six half pints of excellent craft beer await runners on the course (there is also a 10K option with just three drinks), and there’s a party afterwards for those who haven’t had enough to drink during the race itself.
Where is it? The race is set around Lee Valley Country Park Showground, with much of the course running through scenic woodland.
First step: Registration for the event costs £25 with a fundraising target of £150. Sign up at street-child.co.uk/craft-half.
Date for the diary: 1st-2nd September, 29th-30th September and 3rd-4th November 2018
What is it? Wolf Runs are a combination of trail running and obstacle course races. Those obstacles include plenty of the natural variety, so expect to get very wet and muddy – especially if you opt for the winter event – as you power through woodland, fields and lakes.
Where is it? The early September Wolf Run is held at Welsh Road Farm near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. The late September run is in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, and the summer and winter events are at the Stanford Hall Estate in Leicestershire.
First step: Head to thewolfrun.com to pick your event and sign up. Entry costs between £45 and £65 depending on how early you book.
Shelter Urban Rush
Date for the diary: 2nd September, 23rd September and 7th October 2018
What is it? The popular London event is spreading its wings and laying on 15-milers (24.1km) in Edinburgh and Manchester as well. The routes are point-to-point, rather than a closed loop, so you get to see a lot more of the city you’re running in.
Where is it? The first event is in Edinburgh and the course runs along the coast from Queensferry to Holyrood Park in the city centre, so you can climb Arthur’s Seat afterwards if you have any energy left. The Manchester route follows the canals from the Portland Basin Museum to the docks, while the London event starts in the Olympic Park and follows the Thames through the City and West End to finish in Putney.
First step: The price of entry is currently £29, but will rise to £39 or £49 depending on how late you leave it. Sign up at england.shelter.org.uk.
Great North Run
Date for the diary: 9th September 2018
What is it? It’s the biggest half marathon in the world.
Where is it? The race starts in Newcastle and finishes on the coast at South Shields, with a massive crowd of supporters cheering you on the entire way.
First step: There are a few ways to get a place in the Great North Run, the most common of which is to enter the ballot, which runs from Wednesday 3rd January until noon on Monday 5th February. This costs £55, which you only pay if you get a spot in the race. Those who ran the race in 2017 can sign up to become Great North Run members for £65, which guarantees priority entry for the next three years. The other option is to run for charity – you can see which organisations have places on the Great North Run website.
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Northampton Half Marathon
Date for the diary: 9th September 2018
What is it? Exactly what you’d expect – a half marathon around Northampton’s town centre and the surrounding countryside.
Where is it? The race starts in front of the Guildhall, then heads out to greener pastures before returning to town to finish in the grounds of Delapre Abbey.
First step: It’s £30 to sign up for the race online, and £35 if you leave it until the day. Save yourself a fiver at northamptonhalfmarathon.co.uk.
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Bacchus Half Marathon And Marathon
Date for the diary: 9th September 2018
What is it? England’s answer to the Marathon du Médoc, the famous French race where participants run in fancy dress and drink 23 glasses of wine over the course of the 42.2km. Participants in the Bacchus Marathon, on the other hand, get the chance to try 12 different English wines during the race (and they say we have the drinking problem). Fancy dress is still absolutely encouraged.
Where is it? Denbies Vineyard, near Dorking in Surrey. Marathon and half marathon runners complete the same course, with participants in the longer race going round twice. Be warned – there is a 2hr 20min cut-off at the halfway mark in the Bacchus Marathon and you’re expected to complete it in five hours, which seems pretty fast when you’re drinking a dozen glasses of wine along the way.
First step: It costs £47 to enter either race. Book your place in this boozy extravaganza at runbacchus.com.
Date for the diary: 15th-16th September
What is it? A selection of races based around Richmond including sections in Kew Gardens. On Saturday there are 5K and 10K races. The latter is set entirely in Kew, which makes it one of the most picturesque (and flat) 10K routes in the capital. The half and full marathons are both on the Sunday, and if you’re feeling confident, you can sign up to tackle one race on each day of the event.
Where is it? The 10K, half marathon and marathon start in Kew Gardens. The half marathon and marathon leave the gardens and follow the Thames out to Teddington Lock (half marathon) and Hampton Court (marathon) before turning back to finish just outside Kew Gardens. The 5K race involves two laps of the Old Deer Park.
First step: Pick your distance and sign up at richmondrunningfestival.com. The 5K costs £12, the 10K £39.50, the half marathon £37 and the marathon £45.50. The 10K is more expensive than the half because you also get entry into Kew Gardens with your race place, while the longer-distance runners aren’t allowed re-admittance.
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Loch Ness Marathon
Date for the diary: 23rd September 2018
What is it? The only marathon in the world where you have a chance of seeing Nessie while running. It’s a small chance, sure, but even if you don’t spot any mythical monsters, you will definitely get an eyeful of stunning scenery.
Where is it? The Loch Ness Marathon is a point-to-point race along the shore that finishes in the centre of Inverness. Since you’re running in the Highlands, it’s only natural to expect some uphills – but the highest point of the route is the startline, so in one sense it’s all downhill from there. Just not in a factually accurate sense.
First step: Sign up at lochnessmarathon.com before 1st July 2018. Entry costs £52, which includes transport to the marathon start line.
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Blenheim Palace Half Marathon, 10K And Family Fun Run
Date for the diary: 30th September
What is it? A family-friendly running festival set in the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace, with the fun run clocking in at 2km. The runs all take place on Tarmac so you can enjoy your surroundings without fear of coming a cropper on a bobbly trail.
Where is it? The Blenheim Palace Estate is near Woodstock, just north of Oxford. Be ready for some uphill sections – but there will be some incredible views to savour as your reward.
First step: For more info and to book a place head to the British Heart Foundation website. Entry costs £30 for the half marathon, £23 for the 10K and £10 for the family fun run (£5 for kids).
Kielder Marathon, Half Marathon And 10K
Date for the diary: 6th-7th October 2018
What is it? The most beautiful marathon in Britain according to the organisers, and once you’ve completed the run around Kielder Water in Northumberland you might well be inclined to agree with them.
Where is it? Kielder Water is the UK’s largest man-made lake. Only those who tackle the full marathon at this running festival will manage to get all the way round it. All of the events are mostly off-road and pretty hilly, so forget a PB attempt and just enjoy the surroundings.
First step: Book your spot in the 10K (£27), half marathon (£35) or marathon (£41) at kieldermarathon.com.
Cardiff Half Marathon
Date for the diary: 7th October 2018
What is it? The second-largest half marathon in the UK, with 25,000 runners taking part in the race in 2017.
Where is it? The race starts by Cardiff Castle, which is one of many sights runners get to see on their way to the finish in the city centre.
First step: Despite the massive field, the Cardiff Half Marathon sold out several months before race day in 2017, so make sure you don’t miss out by signing up at cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk. Entry costs £41.
Oxford Half Marathon
Date for the diary: 8th October 2018
What is it? Like the Hackney Half Marathon in May, this Virgin Sport event is about more than the 22.1km of running. Well, it is for the spectators at least, because there’s a festival at the finish line involving local food, drinks, live music and free fitness classes.
Where is it? Er, Oxford, which is a small enough city that you can see most of the major landmarks in the city in the course of running a half marathon.
First step: You can register your interest in running the Oxford Half Marathon in 2018 on the Virgin Sport website so you’re notified when entry opens.
The Running Festival At Goodwood
Date for the diary: 14th October 2018
What is it? One for petrolheads this, with the option of taking on a 10K or a half marathon around the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit. The 10K race is 2½ laps of the track, and the half marathon is 5½ laps.
Where is it? The circuit is outside Chichester in West Sussex, near the South Downs National Park, so it’s worth making a weekend of it and running some trails as well as the race track.
First step: Choose your distance – having run a half marathon at Silverstone we recommend going for the 10K, because the long Tarmac straights can start to mess with your mind after a while – and sign up at ukrunevents.co.uk. It costs £20 for the 10K and £28 for the half marathon if you book before 28th February.
The Eden Marathon And Half Marathon
Date for the diary: 14th October 2018
What is it? Unlike residents of Greater London, runners in Cornwall aren’t exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to mass participation races, but this mini festival based at the Eden Project stands out as one of the finest events anywhere in the UK.
Where is it? The races start and finish at the Eden Project, exploring the countryside around the site in between. It’s hilly, but try to save some energy for after you’ve finished, when you’ll be able to explore to the Eden Project’s massive indoor rainforest.
First step: Registration for this year’s event will open early in 2018 so keep an eye on the Eden Project website.
Royal Parks Foundation Half
Date for the diary: 14th October 2018
What is it? One to make you feel proud to be a Londoner. A 13.1-miler (21.1km) that raises vital funds for the Royal Parks and all the sport, education, art, wildlife and more that they look after. That oughta make those blisters slightly more bearable.
Where is it? Around some of London’s more iconic and tourist-pleasing sights, including four Royal Parks, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall. Probably the most Instagram-friendly half on the planet.
First step: Register your interest at royalparkshalf.com
Simplyhealth Canine Run
Date for the diary: 20th October
What is it? What do all the other events on this list have in common? They’re exclusively for humans. This 2.5km event bucks that trend by allowing runners to bring their dogs (one pooch per person), so start training your four-legged friend up right now – you don’t want to get embarrassed by a chihuahua’s late kick on the home straight.
Where is it? The event is part of the Simplyhealth Great South Run weekend, which takes place in Portsmouth. The Canine Run starts and finishes on Clarence Esplanade and has a flat route which takes you along the seafront.
First step: Enter the Canine Run at greatrun.org/canine. It costs £15 to take part.
Great South Run
Date for the diary: 21st October 2018
What is it? While not as famous as its northern counterpart, the Great South Run is far easier to enter and three miles shorter. The 10-mile (16.1km) event takes place on the coast at Portsmouth and promises a fast and flat course.
Where is it? The race starts and finishes at Clarence Esplanade in Southsea, and runners pass HMS Victory, the Spinnaker Tower and Portsmouth Cathedral.
First step: Sign up for a spot at greatrun.org/great-south-run. Entry for the Great South Run costs £42.
Marlow Half Marathon And Marlow 7
Date for the diary: 4th November 2018
What is it? A pair of races – a half marathon and a seven-mile (11.2km) run – around the Chiltern Hills hosted by Marlow Striders running club. You can expect a lot of uphill and downhill running, for which you will be rewarded with some cracking views.
Where is it? Both races start and finish in the centre of Marlow in south Buckinghamshire and head for the hills in between. There is over 300m of uphill running in store in the half marathon, so this is definitely a race to endure and hopefully enjoy, rather than going a PB opportunity.
First step: Choose your race and enter at marlowhalf.marlowstriders.co.uk. It’s £18 for the seven-mile run and £27 for the half marathon.
Date for the diary: 30th December 2018
What is it? A 10K or ten-mile mostly off-road slog through muddy fields. An effective way to work off all the extra calories consumed over Christmas, in short.
Where is it? Both runs take place at Butlers Lands Farm in Berkshire, with the high/lowlight of both being the final 400m of the route across a particularly muddy cabbage patch.
First step: Add it to your Christmas list and direct Santa to the race entry page. It costs £27 to run the 10K and £30 to tackle the ten-mile event.