A Guide to Your Alternative London Marathon

Didn’t bag a London marathon spot this year? Don’t be disappointed! There are still plenty of amazing running events across the UK calling on you to enter.

Events that will not only have you donning your daps in potentially unexplored places, but memorable locations which also boast a comparably exhilarating atmosphere with fantastic support, unique city landmarks to treat your trainers to, and a good chance to earn a PB.

It’s time to cast aside the disappointment and instead start re-directing all that entry excitement into your next best achievable goal – and who knows, the rewards might just be more satisfying!
Overcome the ballot blues and start planning with our top recommendations for seeking out alternatives.

Stop dwelling, start exploring

How many people can say they’ve run every major marathon in the UK? London isn’t the only great city to run. Look for locations you’ve never been to before and check if it has an event you can enter. From industrial Manchester, to historic York, every major city has a marathon, half marathon or 10K these days. Go abroad, be explorative, open you mind to new possibilities. Be the proud medal owner from somewhere fresh.

Mix it up

Road running isn’t the only option. A trail 10k or marathon will often boast stunning views and plenty of mixed or challenging terrain to keep things interesting. Events can feel more relaxed but still equally competitive for those who like to test their limits – you might even discover you prefer muddy trails to pounding pavements!

Enter a relay

Unless your heart is really into entering an event, the idea of putting in the training hours alone can seem daunting. Focus on having some fun instead, round up your best running buddies and enter a relay. Re-discover how it feels to work as a team and it might just improve your personal running.

Of course

Many runners enter marathons based on cities they’re inspired to visit. Instead, put your running first and base your next marathon on the route. Consider what kind of runner you are and check course profiles for compatibility; perhaps you like flat and fast with plenty of crowds to cheer you by, maybe you prefer hilly courses, or a route that takes you into rolling countryside. You might even use it as an opportunity to select a course that addresses a weakness. Think route first, location later.

Go shorty

A 10k has different training requirements to preparing for a full or ultra-marathon. Change things up and try training for a distance you’ve not tried before, or select a race with a shorter distance, but aim to run it faster. Learning to master shorter races, and doing it well, is no less credible that getting a huge distance under your belt.

This year, we’ve issued over 700,000 EnergyGels and IsoGels  to #HIGH5fuelled running events across the UK, providing on-course nutrition to help fuel you to the finish line. We’ve enjoyed fuelling you with our best-selling electrolyte sports drink, HIGH5 Zero, in a range of delicious flavours, and even delighted you with Goji Berries, Chia Seeds and Brazil Nuts at the finish line when we included Protein Snack in race goody bags.

We’re looking forward to keeping you hydrated at a series of events again next year, so if you’re eager to tie your laces again in 2018, here’s a just a handful that we highly recommend:

Central: MK Marathon Weekend, Milton Keynes
Date: Sunday 6 and Monday 7 May, 2018
Organised by: Runner’s Base
Website: www.mkmarathon.com

Consistently ranked in the top 10 UK marathons, an AIMS/IAAF Grade A certified race, with BARR Gold accreditation for outstanding race management. Milton Keynes is lucky to have a world-class system of cycle paths and surrounding natural beauty. The race takes advantage of these factors, giving runners a course that’s interesting, inspiring, fun to run, fast and different from other marathons.

Scotland: Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Date: Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May, 2018
Organised by: GSI Events
Website: www.edinburghmarathon.com

Fast and flat, this course was voted the fastest marathon in the UK by Runners World, ideal if it’s your first marathon or you are looking for a PB. The second largest marathon in the UK behind London, it has sold out every year since 2018.The Edinburgh Marathon Festival has it all, incorporating a full marathon, half marathon, team relay, 10K, 5K and junior races across May Bank Holiday weekend.

Picture by Lesley Martin 27/05/12 Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2012. Pictured are runners in the half marathon.

Wales: Snowdonia Trail Run
Date: Sunday 15 July, 2018
Organised by: Always Aim High Events
Website: www.alwaysaimhighevents.com

A challenge in every sense of the word, this is a stunning trail Marathon, Ultra Marathon, Half Marathon and 10k, starting and finishing in Wales’s outdoor capital, Llanberis. The full marathon ascends 1,685 metres over 26 miles of iconic and spectacular trails, eventually climbing Wales’ highest peak, Snowdon.

South West: Race to the Stones, North Wessex Downs
Date: Saturday and Sunday 14 and 15 July, 2018
Organised by: Threshold Events
Website: www.racetothestones.com

For those looking to push themselves a bit further, this event promises an unforgettable 100km along Britain’s oldest path. Part of the biggest ultra marathon series in the country , Race to the Stones, is managed by Threshold Events who feature other ultras across the country. Run it, jog it or walk it, this event is designed to suit everyone from elite runners to bold fundraisers.

North: Yorkshire Marathon
Date: Sunday 14 October, 2018
Organised by: Run For All
Website: www.theyorkshiremarathon.com

The Yorkshire Marathon has quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the White Rose County’s sporting year. This popular and picturesque run, with fantastic PB potential, takes participants past some of York’s splendid historic sites and along scenic country lanes, making it an attractive prospect for runners of all abilities. There’s also a relay option for groups of friends and businesses.

South: Bournemouth Marathon Festival
Date: Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 October, 2018
Organised by: GSI Events
Website: www.bournemouthmarathon.com

The Bournemouth Marathon is ’running as it should be’. Beautiful coastal views, a chance to run the Boscombe and Bournemouth Piers with a spectacular finish. Loved year round by more experienced runners, it’s also ideal for beginners, incorporating a full marathon, half marathon, team relay, 10K, 5K and junior races all in one spectacular setting by the sea.

Action from the 10km race at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, {iptcday} {iptcmonthname} {iptcyear4}. Photo: Paul J Roberts / RobertsSports Photo. All Rights Reserved. Copyright Paul Roberts | RobertsSports Photo