The Best UK Adventure Races

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Every race you tackle in any sport is an adventure. Even if you’ve cycled a hundred sportives and run fifty 10Ks, the next one will find a way to surprise and hopefully delight you. However, there are some races that undoubtedly more adventurous than others. For example, running, cycling and kayaking across Scotland is likely to throw up more surprises than running 10K around a city centre.

What an adventure race actually is can be hard to pin down, but generally you can expect to tackle at least two different sports and travel a huge distance over unfriendly – if not downright terrifying – terrain, navigating yourself for the most part. They’re tough but hugely rewarding, and they will take you to some of the most beautiful and isolated parts of the UK. Here are a few amazing adventures to give you a taste of what’s in store.

Thames Ridgeway Challenge (23rd-24th June)

The total distance of this event comes it at a daunting 240km, almost all of which is off-road or on water so it’s not one for the inexperienced athlete. Even if you break it up over two days you can expect to be working for 18 hours on the first day and at least nine on the second. The first stage is a 55-60km cycle across the North Wessex Downs to meet the Thames at Lechlade. There you jump into kayaks for a 48km trip on the water to Oxford, where you’ll disembark and trek 40km to Cholsey, near Wallingford. Then it’s back on the bike for a 80-90km ride along the Ridgeway to Pewsey. You can tackle the challenge in teams of two or four – this isn’t one you’ll want to fly solo on. From £169, questars.co.uk

Night & Day (14th-15th July)

A good starting point for those new to adventure racing, this event “only” involves covering 80km to 140km, depending on how direct a route you choose to take. There will be trail running, mountain biking and plenty of opportunities to show off your map-reading prowess as you journey around the Surrey Hills collecting checkpoints – the more you reach within the 14-hour overnight race period, the more points you get. £105, triadventure.co.uk/night-day

City To Summit (28th-29th July)

The goal of this event is simple – go on foot and by bike from Edinburgh to Fort William via the summit of Ben Nevis. You can take on the journey in one go or over two days, but either way you’ll feel an incredible sense of achievement as you descend from Ben Nevis to the finish line in Fort William. The route starts with a 24km run followed by a 184.2km cycle – if attempting the challenge over two days you camp for the night after 123.1km of the ride. Following the cycle you’re back on two feet to make your assault on the summit, with a 39.4km run/trek up and over Ben Nevis to Fort William. One-day version from £245, two-day from £285, ratrace.com/citytosummit

Coast To Coast (8th-9th September)

Run, cycle and kayak from Nairn on the east coast of Scotland to the Isles of Glencoe on the west coast. The 169km route takes you past Loch Ness and through plenty of rugged Highland terrain. It can be tackled in one go or as a two-day event, with a night spent camping at Fort Augustus. As you’d expect, the bulk of the distance is covered on two wheels, but there are both on- and off-road bike sections to tackle, and you’ll still be running over 32km in total as well as finishing with a 1.6km kayak – the difficulty of which should not be underestimated. One-day version from £190, two-day from £230, ratrace.com/coasttocoast2018