Date for the diary: 2nd-3rd June, 1st-2nd September, 29th-30th Setpember 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 as you power through woodland, fields and lakes – especially if you opt for the winter event.
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.
Wings For Life World Run
Date for the diary: 6th May 2018
What is it? A unique event, with runners all over the world setting off at the same time and running as far as they can until they are passed by a catcher car, which gets progressively faster. The UK start time is midday – count yourself lucky you’re not in the US, where start times can be as early as 6am.
Where is it? Everywhere! Right now if you’re in the UK you can run in Cambridge or Richmond Park in London, but more runs can be created using the Wings For Life app. Using the latter means you’ll be caught by a virtual catcher car rather than a real motor, but you still participate in the race at the same time as the rest of the world.
First step: Head to wingsforlifeworldrun.com and search for your local race. Then check out how far you might be able to run using the goal calculator – for example, to be ahead of the car at the 10K mark you need to complete the distance in 70 minutes, and you have just over three hours to reach 40K. Sign up for the race using the Wings For Life app; registration costs £18.
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Great Bristol 10K
Date for the diary: 13th May 2018
What is it? One of the biggest and best 10Ks on the UK race calendar.
Where is it? An out-and-back route along the Avon Gorge gives runners a glorious view of the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge as well as taking them past the sights of central Bristol.
First step: It’s £30 to enter the race, which you can do on the Great Run website.
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Hackney Half Marathon
Date for the diary: 20th May 2018
What is it? It’s 22.1km of running around east London, with a very supportive crowd cheering you along the way. While you run, spectators can get involved in the festival of fitness taking place at the finish line, which includes free exercise classes.
Where is it? Runners start and finish on Hackney Marshes. Notable sights on the route include the Olympic Park and Broadway Market.
First step: A standard spot in the Hackney Half is £45, or you can opt for a perks package which includes race day hospitality and, intriguingly, posher toilets. Sign up at uk.virginsport.com/event/hackney-2018.
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Great Manchester Run
Date for the diary: 20th May 2018
What is it? A 10K and a half marathon around Manchester’s city centre. Both events are very popular and a good atmosphere is guaranteed, come rain or shine, partly because the organisers raid the back catalogue of Manchester’s most beloved bands and play them at full volume for everyone to enjoy.
Where is it? Both races start on Portland Street and finish on Deansgate in the centre of Manchester. If you’re a City fan, it’s going to have to be the half marathon, because while both races visit Old Trafford, only the longer run makes it to the Etihad as well.
First step: Choose your race and sign up at greatrun.org. The half marathon costs £44 to enter and the 10K is £38.
Odlo Glentress 11
Date for the diary: 25th May 2018
What is it? An 11km trail run in the charming surroundings of the Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders. Be prepared for hills – the route climbs 375m, mostly in the first half. There is also a 5K event if 11km seems too much. This is only the second edition of the race after it launched last year, when it was won by a very handsome and impressive, although not particularly modest, athlete who also happens to cover running events for Coach.
Where is it? The route starts and finishes in Peebles, 23km south of Edinburgh. The steep climbing is tough on the legs of even the handsomest of athletes, but you are rewarded with some stunning views.
First step: Entry costs £25 for the 11km, sign up at tweedlove.com.
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Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Date for the diary: 26th-27th May 2018
What is it? There’s something for everyone at this two-day festival of running, with five different races all taking place on an exceptionally fast course around Edinburgh. You can run a 5K, 10K, half marathon or take on the full 42.2km, and there’s also the option to run the marathon as part of a four-person team.
Where is it? The marathon starts in the centre of Edinburgh before heading out to the coast. Runners drop almost 90m overall during the route, with most of the descent coming in the first few miles to help ensure you get off to a flyer.
First step: Entry to the events costs from £17 to £56. Take your pick of distance and sign up at edinburghmarathon.com.
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Vitality London 10,000
Date for the diary: 28th May 2018
What is it? A central London 10K with a route that’s crammed full of landmarks and lined with spectators all the way round. A lot of Bank Holiday fun then, although speedsters may be frustrated by course congestion.
Where is it? The race starts on the Mall and heads east past St Paul’s Cathedral before returning for a sprint finish in front of Buckingham Palace.
First step: Enter the race at vitalitylondon10000.co.uk. Places cost £35.
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Salomon Trail Running Festivals
Dates for the diary: 2nd June, 23rd June 2018
What is it? A celebration of all things off-road. Salomon’s one-day festivals involve talks about trail running and technique tips, as well as plenty of actual running. You can join a guided run (10km, 20km or ultra) or enter a timed 10K or 20km. Once you’re back at the festival in the evening there’s live music and a bar to enjoy.
Where is it? The two UK events in 2018 are based in Edinburgh’s Pentland Hills (2nd June) and Box Hill, Surrey (23rd June).
First step: Get more details about the events and buy your ticket at salomonrunfest.com. Spectators can attend for free, and it costs £25 for entry and a spot in the 10K or 20km run, and £50 for entry and a spot in the ultra.
Adidas City Runs 1 Hour
Date for the diary: 17th June 2018
What is it? Something a little different for the urban running crowd to try. This one pits you against the clock, rather than a certain distance, seeing how many laps of a one-mile circuit you can complete in an hour.
Where is it? Given that you’re going to get very well acquainted with the course, it’s good that Adidas has picked a route that crams in several great London landmarks, the highlight being St Paul’s Cathedral where each lap starts and finishes. You’ll also pass the Bank of England and Guildhall.
First step: Entry for the event costs £40 and you can sign up at adidascityruns.com. Then start working out how far you think you might be able to get.
Great Team Relay
Date for the diary: 4th July 2018
What is it? A 5K relay set in and around the Olympic Stadium. Four team members tackle a leg apiece, with the baton changeover happening on the track, where hopefully there will be thousands of supporters cheering you on.
Where is it? The 5K course is a loop around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that starts and finishes inside the main stadium, so you can relive epic moments like Usain Bolt’s 100m gold in 2012, or West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Stoke earlier this year.
First step: It costs £100 to enter as a team of four, and this also includes entry to the stadium for four supporters. You can enter as a male, female or mixed team (the last of those has to be two men, two women to count). Head to greatteamrelay.com to enter.
The Color Run
Date for the diary: 8th July
What is it? A 5K run in which all participants are showered with coloured powder. There are no winners or times – it’s all about having fun.
Where is it? Wembley Park in north-west London – just imagine how colourful the Tube back to the centre of the capital will be.
First step: Sign up at thecolorrun.co.uk, making sure you don’t add a rogue/correct U to the word “color” when you type the address. It costs £23 for a solo runner and £21 per person if you enter as a team.
The British 10K
Date for the diary: 15th July 2018
What is it? A summer 10K in the heart of London, with live music at every kilometre marker to spur runners on.
Where is it? The very centre of London, with runners passing landmarks like Big Ben and Trafalgar Square en route.
First step: Sign up for the race on the Virgin Sport website. Entry costs £44.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Date for the diary: 15th-16th September
What is it? A trio of cracking races around Richmond including sections in Kew Gardens – in fact the 10K race is set entirely in Kew, which makes it one of the most picturesque (and flat) 10K routes in the capital. The 10K takes place on the Saturday, and the half and full marathons are on the Sunday.
Where is it? All three races 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.
First step: Pick your distance and sign up at richmondrunningfestival.com. The 10K costs £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 readmittance.
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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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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
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.