19 amazing UK marathons to sign up to (that aren't London)
Inspired by the magic of this year's London Marathon? While it's certainly worth a shot at a ballot place for next year, securing a spot requires a hefty amount of luck (there's only around 17,000 spaces up for grabs and the 2023 race had 410,000 entries).
But fear not – there's plenty of other excellent marathons taking place across the UK that are considerably easier to get into.
Here's our pick of the 19 best UK marathons taking place in 2023 and 2024 – listed below in date order.
Ready to start training for 26.2 miles of joy (and some pain)? Your training plan can be found here.
UK Marathons 2023
1. ASICS Windermere Marathon
When: 21 May 2023
Lowdown: Set in the Lake District circling Britain's largest body of water, the ASICS Windermere Marathon was voted the UK's most scenic marathon (by us) and we weren't lying. With the running field capped at 1,500, take on 26.2 at a leisurely pace surrounded by the most stunning scenery you can imagine. With over 600m ascent, it's a challenging course, so expect plenty of ups and downs!
2. Edinburgh Marathon
When: 28 May 2023
Lowdown: Scotland's largest running festival and the second largest marathon in the UK behind London. The scenic route around the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and back along the East Lothian coast, is pancake flat making it perfect for first-timers. It has sold out every year since 2008 for a reason!
3. Cybi Coastal Marathon
When: 5 August 2023
Lowdown: The island of Ynys Cybi off Anglesey is the perfect size for a marathon. The route follows the coast clockwise around the island on a mixture of road, paths, beaches and fields, with a couple of cliffs and hills, and a dash past the South Stack Lighthouse, before the final ascent up Holyhead Mountain (220m). The views up there are quite breathtaking, and the Wicklow Mountains might even be visible across the Irish Sea on a clear day. From the top, it’s just a couple of kilometres downhill to the finish line in Holyhead.
4. Farnham Pilgrim Marathon
When: 10 September 2023
Lowdown: You know that when pilgrims are involved, it’s certainly not going to be a walk in the park. This route partially follows the Pilgrim’s Way, which starts in Winchester and ends in Canterbury. It’s mostly off-road in the Surrey Hills between Farnham and Guildford, but the pain of the ascents will be more than compensated for by the beautiful countryside. The perfect low key, friendly and supportive trail marathon.
5. New Forest Marathon
When: 10 September 2023
Lowdown: An event with a 34-year legacy, this multi-terrain race takes you through the heart of the New Forest National Park, taking in the local villages of Brockenhurst and Sway. The first half of the race is pretty flat, the second half is undulating, but the scenery and the atmosphere are fantastic throughout.
6. Richmond Marathon
When: 10 September 2023
Lowdown: A surprisingly fast and flat marathon, that starts in Kew Gardens and finishes in Old Deer Park in Richmond. The route is scenic and the course is relatively crowd free, plus the post-race atmosphere is always good, with a festival vibe and plenty to entertain kids while runners enjoy the post-race refreshment.
7. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon
When: 1 October 2023
Lowdown: The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has attracted visitors to this fascinating part of Scotland for many years, but the cracking scenery is responsible for countless return visits. Launched in 2002, the 26.2-mile race around Scotland’s iconic Loch Ness has built a solid reputation as one of the UK’s most scenic marathons, with good reason. The route takes in breathtaking sights along the south-eastern shore, across the River Ness, and into the centre of Inverness, with a 50 grand reward for the lucky runner who spots Nessie in the inking black waters of the beautiful loch.
8. Kielder Marathon
When: 8 October 2023
Lowdown: A race that includes the largest man-made lake in the UK (Kielder Water), some sumptuous woodland, several tough climbs, varied terrain, a mixed field of first-time trail marathoners and seasoned vets, and a spirit of collaborative hilarity that you only find at off-road events. The organisers describe it as ‘Britain’s most beautiful marathon’ and while there’s no way to objectively substantiate the claim, it’d be hard to argue against it. This is a stunner.
9. Chester Marathon
When: 8 October 2023
Lowdown: Less heralded, perhaps, than other big UK marathons, but a cracker nonetheless. Partly because the town and country route is chock-full of sights (the Amphitheatre, the Roman Walls, Old Dee Bridge, the Cathedral, the Duke of Westminster’s Estate, etc) and partly because the race organisers ensure it runs like clockwork year after year. The route is largely flat but with some short hills and gradual climbs which are predominantly in the second half of the course.
10. Yorkshire Marathon
When: 15 October 2023
Lowdown: A popular and picturesque run with fantastic PB potential, the Yorkshire Marathon takes over 7,000 runners past some of York's most historic sites and along scenic traffic-free country lanes. With the highest point of the course only around 40 metres above sea level, it's a nice flat route, making it an excellent choice for runners of all abilities.
11. Snowdonia Marathon
When: 28 October 2023
Lowdown: Think of this race as the British equivalent of the Everest Marathon – you get the thrill of doing an event in the shadow of the mountain itself without ever having to really leave base camp. The outrageously gorgeous (but, at the same time, very challenging) route encircles the highest peak in Wales, but you won’t get anywhere near the top.
12. Beacons Trail Marathon
When: 11 November 2023
Lowdown: If you're looking for a trail race with a bit of a climb, this is one for your race calendar. The Beacons Trail Marathon follows 26 miles of the classic Beacons Ultra route, including a little climb of Pen Y Fan – the highest peak in South Wales – thrown in for good measure!
Not your first marathon? Try this 16-week marathon training plan, aimed at runners who log at least 30 miles per week. If this is your first marathon, check out our beginners marathon training plan.
UK Marathons 2024
When: Date TBC (likely April)
Lowdown: Usually held a few weeks before the London Marathon – and now hosted by the same organisers – this seafront marathon is one of the largest in the UK. It raises substantial sums for charity each year and welcomes thousands of spectators – bringing a real carnival atmosphere to the city. The scenic course starts in Preston Park and snakes its way through Brighton city centre, along the glistening seafront and finishes at Hove Lawns. It's mostly flat but expect a few inclines in the first half.
When: 17 March 2024
Lowdown: With stunning sea views set along Llanelli's Millennium Coastal Park, this flat, traffic-free course is a glorious race – and the oldest Marathon in Wales. The race starts and finishes at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire, taking runners through lush parkland, along the stunning Welsh coast and through picturesque Burry Port harbour.
15. Adidas Manchester Marathon
When: 14 April 2024
Lowdown: Billed as the flattest, fastest and friendliest UK marathon and held entirely on closed, main roads, the Adidas Manchester Marathon is perfect for PB chasing. Finishing outside Old Trafford stadium, race day promises the crowd and atmosphere of a big city race but without the jam-packed, congested running fields that some city races bring with them.
When: Sunday 21 April 2024
Lowdown: Held on Blackpool's Promenade passing all the great landmarks and tourist spots, including Blackpool Tower and the pier, head over to the seaside for this fantastic coastal marathon. A flat and fast route with plenty of spots for loved ones to cheer from, the Blackpool Marathon is the perfect day out for the whole family.
When: 4-6 May 2024
Lowdown: Definitely one of the slowest marathons you’ll ever do, since it takes place over three days. Passing through all three towns that make up the administrative district of Mid Sussex – East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill – you’ll run 10 miles on the Saturday, 10 miles on the Sunday and finish with a 10K on the Bank Holiday Monday. A clever, and fun, concept that’s perfect if you're new to distance running but want to build up to marathon distance.
When: 5 May 2024
Lowdown: Known as 'The Tough One', the Three Forts Marathon covers 27 miles of the glorious South Downs. With 3450 feet of climbing and plenty of stiles and rough tracks to contend with, this exciting multi-terrain event might be a touch more challenging than your average city race, but you definitely get your money’s worth.
When: 2024 date TBC (likely in May)
Lowdown: A speedy and scenic route taking in tree-lined boulevards, picturesque lakes, green parks and lush woodland. The flat and fast route starts and finishes from a new race village at Campbell Park, where runners can look forward to a big festival finish. The Milton Keynes Marathon is ideal for keen marathoners living in the capital, who don't wish to travel too far afield to take on the mighty 26.2 miles.
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