The best races to run next month – July 2022

·7-min read
Photo credit: PR contact -
Photo credit: PR contact -

July 2022

Our selection of the best, fastest, toughest, quirkiest and most enjoyable UK races this month.

Race to the Stones

Ultra running is growing in popularity but it remains something of a niche activity. This event, however, is probably the UK’s closest ultra event to the mainstream. There are a couple of excellent reasons for its appeal: the 100K route passes through some of Britain’s best countryside and involves some unique sights, including Uffington White Horse, several castles and Avebury Stone Circle, and the event structure allows for a gentler introduction to ultra running with two different 50K options if the 100K feels like too much.

Lewknor, Oxfordshire, July 9,

St Magnus Marathon

This race, named for a former Earl of Orkney from the times when the archipelago was ruled by Norway, is a great way to discover one of the UK’s least-explored regions. It runs along the glorious windswept coast from Kirkness to Birsay on the northeast edge of the island – from there, the next stop is Iceland. There’s also a 10K option, which runs in a loop from Birsay around the Loch of Boardhouse though the villages of Kirbuster and, er, Twatt.

Kirkwall, Orkney, July 3,

Great Glen Ultra

With a 1am start time, it’s hard to know whether this event favours the early birds or the night owls. Having wings would certainly help: this is an arduous 114km race along the Great Glen Way from just outside Fort William to Inverness, with all the hard climbing (2,300m altogether) coming in the second half of the event. There are six checkpoints along the way, each with a strict cut-off, meaning that every year at least a few competitors don’t make it all the way to the finish.

Corpach, Argyllshire, July 2,

Lark Stoke Quad Challenge

An original concept here: this challenge takes one big hill and four routes to the top and lets runners decide how many of those four routes they want to take on. Conquer all four up-and-downs and you’ll cover around 24km with around 670m of ascent, and you can be quite sure that getting out of bed the next day won’t be a fun experience.

Mickleton, Gloucestershire, July 2,

Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Cotswolds

A quality selection of events here, in a reliably lovely part of the country. There’s a 22K, a 15K and a 7K, each with a challenging but manageable amount of elevation. They all follow hard-packed trails so no technical trail-running expertise is required, making this an event to target for road runners who are trail-curious. As an added bonus, this area is full of interesting attractions, from Neolithic tombs to ancient Roman villas.

Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, July 2,

Leeds 10K

This is by all accounts one of the UK’s best urban 10K races. The course starts and finishes in the city centre and loops out into the northern suburbs – not the most exciting or scenic course we’ve ever seen, but all that takes a back seat to the atmosphere, the support and the enthusiastic crowds. Is there any better fuel for tiring legs than hundreds of strangers cheering you on? No, there isn’t. Not even bananas are better than that. The route is flat, so harness the raw power of those cheers to blast yourself to a well-earned PB.

Leeds, Yorkshire, July 3,

St Aidan's 10K

Runners near Leeds, this month, your running cup runneth over. This event is also a quick 10K, but it takes place mostly on trails in St Aidan's Country Park to the east of Leeds. This area is renowned for its excellent birdspotting potential, from reed-lurking bitterns to sing-song skylarks to magnificent short-eared owls to hunting harriers. At this point we probably should warn you to keep your eyes on the trail rather than gawping upwards to admire our beautiful avian friends.

Swillington, Yorkshire, July 8,

Ultra North

This 55K ultra does a pretty all-encompassing tour of the north-east, and has a little bit of everything you’d want from a race: some properly isolated trails, some lovely scenery in the Derwent, a few challenging climbs, sections along road and tarmac and even visits to Newcastle and Gateshead with a turn-around on the iconic Gateshead Millennium Bridge. If that all sounds a bit much, go for the shorter 25K route, which cuts out the sections along the Tyne and leaves you with only countryside to enjoy.

Blaydon, Durham, July 16,

Brooksie's Bash Trail Race

A couple of laid-back events here that are suitable for all running abilities, starting and finishing in the grounds of the rather fancy Repton Prep school in Foremarke Hall. Both the 10-mile and the 5K races take place on gravel pathways, with the odd section on roads here and there. This is a plastic-free event (we’re so happy to see more and more of these on the running calendar), so you’ll need to bring your own folding cup if you want to avail of the hydration stations along the way.

Foremark, Derbyshire, July 17,

Wye Valley Tunnel Run

There’s a 6K, 10K and half marathon on offer here, but note that the 6K distance doesn’t actually include this race’s main attraction: the rather murky but nonetheless thrilling Tidenham Tunnel. This 1km tunnel under the limestone hills is actually a bat sanctuary, which requires lighting to remain very low. The first few seconds after entering will be quite a shock, but your eyes will adjust quickly to help you identify the gentle curves of the path before you emerge back out into what will definitely feel like blazing sunshine even if it’s overcast and rainy.

Sedbury, Gloucestershire, July 17,

Mulberry Half Marathon

Leave behind any plans for PBs when undertaking this race: if the sand at the start doesn’t squash your dreams within moments, then the uphills on rocky terrain in the latter half of the race probably will. Tough terrain aside, this event still has a lot going for it: north Wales is gorgeous and you’ll get a fabulous view down on Conwy from atop Mynydd y Dref, followed by the sweet relief of a long downhill back into the town. Just don’t forget that you’ll have to deal with that sand again to get to the finish.

Conwy, Caernarfonshire, July 17,

Gullion Way Ultra

All 64km of this event will be entirely without waymarkings, signs and feed stations. Apart from the occasional water refill station, you’ll be entirely self-sufficient and reliant upon the waterproof instructions provided by the organisers to find your way from Newry, around the countryside of south Co. Armagh and Co. Down and back to Newry via various peaks, including Slieve Gullion. The challenge is epic, but so too is the adventure – and the scenery.

Newry, Co. Down, July 4,

Montane Lakeland 100

One look at the elevation map for this event was enough to send us cowering and whimpering into a corner, but luckily there are many runners out there made of stern enough stuff to take on this incredible challenge. It’s a 105-mile loop of the Lake District with (gulp) 6856m of ascent in total. Even the ‘easy’ version is terrifying: 50 miles with 2965m of climbing. With a start and finish in the pretty little town of Coniston, you’ll finish your odyssey mercifully close to both a pub and a fish & chip shop.

Coniston, Lancashire, July 29,

Westbury Wipeout

This event for kids aged between 8 and 15 is not timed, so it’s all about fun, adventure, and getting covered in as much mud as humanly possible. Your mucky progeny will rampage around the grounds of Blaise Castle Estate, taking on various obstacles such as scrambling up slopes, wading through water and picking a route through rocks and steps. Even though we’re well over double the age limit, we’re well and truly envious of those who get to participate in this event.

Bristol, Gloucestershire July 4,

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