Lakeland Trails Marathon
Location: Coniston, Cumbria
Distance: 42.2K/26.4 miles
Ascent: 685m total ascent
Find out more: lakelandtrails.org/marathon
The course follows beautiful trails around Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the Lake District. They’re so beautiful in fact, that Runner’s World readers rate it as ‘the most scenic trail marathon in Britain’. Less competitive runners enter the ‘Challenge’, while quicker runners start two hours later in the ‘Race’. There’s also a half marathon option if you’re not ready for the full.
North Downs Run
Location: Gravesend, Kent
Distance: 30K/18.8 miles
Ascent: 430m total ascent
Find out more: isteadandifield.org.uk
Location: Sierre, Switzerland
Distance: 31K/19.3 miles
Ascent: 2,200m total ascent
Find out more: sierre-zinal.com
The oldest mountain race in Europe is known locally as the ‘Course des Cinq 4000’ in honour of the five classic 4,000m peaks it follows (including the infamous Matterhorn). It’s obviously a serious undertaking and attracts the world’s top trail runners, but it’s been described as ‘the perfect mountain race’ and there’s also a walkers’ class, which starts four hours ahead of the elites.
Location: Davos, Switzerland
Distance: 42K/26.2 miles (other options: 10K-78K)
Ascent: 2,370m total ascent
Find out more: swissalpine.ch
Nestled 1,560m up in the Alps, the winter sports Mecca of Davos makes the considerable charms of its mountain surroundings open to runners with this annual trail running extravaganza offering seven different distances. From the 10K all the way up to the 78K, there’s something for all levels to sink their outsole lugs into.
Trail Marathon Wales
Location: Coed y Brenin Forest, Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Distance: 42K (26.2 miles)
Ascent: 1,022m total ascent
Price: £25 (full) or £20 (half)
Find out more: trailmarathonwales.com
When 700 entries sell out eight weeks in advance, you know it’s a winner. With full and half marathon options, it attracts seasoned trail runners and offroad newbies alike, and it’s set up so you can bring the family and make a weekend of it.
Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)
Location: Chamonix, France
Distance: 168K/105 miles
Ascent: 9,600m total ascent
Find out more: ultratrailmb.com
Not many races require you to carry your passport. But the UTMB is no ordinary race. This is the pinnacle of European trail running.
If you can acquire the necessary qualification points to enter, you’ll follow the world’s trail running elite for over 100 miles of intensely demanding and aesthetically sublime Alpine scenery around Mont Blanc, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland.
Hugely popular, enormously tough and limited to 2,300 runners, it’s the ultimate challenge. Though if you’re not quite ready for it, there are shorter race options available.
A swaggering mudslinger that can lay claim to the title ‘The toughest race in the South East’. Challenging hills, exhilarating trails, scenic views, excellent marshalling and a decent swag bag make it a favourite on the RW forum. The 2013 race marks the 30th anniversary, so get your entry in sharpish.
Visit our essential trail running hub to discover the best offroad races, essential kit and how to blitz your trail fears.