Marathon of Britain 2005...

175 miles, six days... you know you want to

Posted: 23 December 2004

If you'd like a running achievement you'll never forget - or you'd just like to use your running to explore more of the country you live in - you might just be on the right page.

Starting in the Malvern Hills and ending at Nottingham Castle, September's six-day, 175-mile Marathon of Britain is an off-road tour of hidden parts of England that most of us have only ever sped through on the motorway. It's organised by one of the friendliest, most charismatic people on the planet, and it's already a miniature classic.

Don't think we're being swayed because we're hosting online entry for the 2005 race (you can enter by post too). We're just terrifically excited that a race like this - traditionally the preserve of foreign countries - has now established itself on our doorstep.

Here's how it works: you navigate your way from one day's race village to the next, using a specially prepared map and instructions. Competitors often end up in informal pairs or teams, and this year there's an official team prize. The race provides and transports tents, breakfast and an evening meal, but you have to run with your week's food and the rest of your kit.

A few more things you might like to know: Past competitors traditionally help newbies prepare - they'll be checking the RW forums, for instance. There's a two-day practise race in March. The main race consists of consecutive days of 17 miles, 29 miles, 32 miles, 33 miles, 54 (yes, 54) miles, 10 miles Checkpoints and water stations roughly every six miles. It costs £749 (£786.50 by credit card) including six days of meals, tented accommodation and a hotel at the end.

As RW columnist Andy Blackford said in 2003: "The MOB does what all great races do. It binds a band of people together in a huge, pointless, epic enterprise that each of them will always count among the defining experiences of their lives."

So you want to run the Marathon of Britain...

  • Find out more at
  • Enter the 2005 race online
  • Andy Blackford's article in full

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    Discuss this article

    To anybody thinking of entering MOB2005,I would say go ahead and do the challenge of a lifetime,having completed the first MOB in 2003 I can honestly say this was the most brilliant event I have ever done,the friends I made,the emotions,fun, laughter and tears all make this a fantastic event.I didn,t run alongside Andy Blackford or any of the other top distance runners, but they all made me feel just as an important part of this unique event as anybody else.This year I went as part of the crew, and hey Heidi, remember me,I was the fella who leant you my warm fleece that night when you came in after 30 odd miles,cold,wet and bedraggled.I just felt for you so much,knowing what you were going through.Yes,go for it,You,ll be glad you did,and hope to see you there in 2005.
    Posted: 23/12/2004 at 22:56

    Not knocking anyone for putting on an event of this scale but does it really cost £749 for 6 nights in a Tent!!!
    Posted: 24/12/2004 at 08:09

    Im too slow to do this
    sounds ace though
    Posted: 24/12/2004 at 08:26

    ...Mob threads everywhere at the moment....

    just to point out what I said in another thread £700 odd might seem a bit steep, but if you want to do a week staged event its pretty cheap relative to others...consider that the MDS charge in excess of £2000.

    Posted: 24/12/2004 at 09:37

    The MDS is how much !!!

    Well that rules that one out.......that and the fact it would kill me
    Posted: 24/12/2004 at 09:51

    I think I will leave that to rest of you extremely fit guys! Just getting over my Christams pud and it all sounds horrible to me!
    Posted: 26/12/2004 at 10:41

    Hipps - I've just found this!
    Whaddya reckon - I'm pretty slow, mind you I'm pretty pi$$ed at the moment too!
    What a challenge though!
    Posted: 26/12/2004 at 16:50

    david... i'm about to withdraw from MDS 2005 because i can run for only half an hour before feeling knackered (injury has prevented me from training), and i think the progression from that to MDS fitness is too much to ask of my body in 3.5 months. however, MOB sounds awesome (and more achievable in terms of how much time i have) - what level of training did you do to compete?
    Posted: 26/12/2004 at 21:21

    Hi asghar1983,I only heard about this event,6 weeks before,and only having done 4 marathons previously,(only took up running Oct2000,) and after a couple of drinks one night,my fellow,so called club mates persuaded me to give it a go,so as well as our normal club runs,i did about 15 miles each Weds night complete with rucksack.By the time arrived,I was still under prepared but what the heck,went along,met so many strange faces,all made me welcome,and i took each day as they came,completed the course and enjoyed it all. Icame home a week later and was the envy of the club,very proud of what I,d achieved and a nice big medal!Seriously considering again 2005.
    Posted: 27/12/2004 at 22:05

    The Marathon of Britain is by far a life changing event. Having not run or entered an event like it i thought it was going to be a walk in the park. How wrong could i have been. I met so many fantastic people, delt with so many emotions, and enjoyed every part of it,(well most of it). The top runners who i only saw at the end were an insperstion and a help every day. The event as a whols was expertly run and followed. I would like to say to any one who is even thinking about it.... I dare you.
    See you for the MOB 5. oh and bring some Jelly Babies.
    Posted: 28/12/2004 at 20:37

    oh , when i am a better runner i will do this
    Posted: 28/12/2004 at 20:45

    I am seriously tempted by this, need something special to mark next year's rather significant birthday. However, navigation is not my thing. How difficult is the navigation and has anybody any tips on improving my skills?
    Posted: 31/12/2004 at 16:57

    Hi and a happy new year to you Barbara and all Runner's World Forumites. Interesting that the girls feel they need help. One of our best navigators last year was Gill Orme. She was very worried about the maps on day one, but got better and better all week. So much so that the guys relied on her for their directions later in the week. From our experience, the chaps get lost the most it seems!

    She's back this year and is a very useful point of contact for any gals wishing to enter. I'm sure she would not mind helping your skills and confidence.


    Rory Coleman
    MOB Race Director
    Posted: 03/01/2005 at 20:11

    Hi Rory, thanks for that. Will I be able to contact Gill via the MOB website?
    Posted: 03/01/2005 at 20:46

    I would say if your gonna take the time out to train to do 175 miles in 6 days, then taking a few days out to get your navigating sussed aint really an issue.

    if you can read a route from an OS map and have a vague idea of your bearings then your sorted.

    If you cant, its an easy thing to get to grips with and train up on(that doesnt mean you wont take one or two wrong turns and unwanted diversions, but thats just the way of things in navigational events).
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 00:46

    Barbara, I suggest just going on long walks on footpaths in the countryside using an Explorer (1:25000) OS map. Get used to the symbols and the scale and practice estimating distances. MOB is through farmed countryside rather than moorland or mountainous terrain - there are usually lots of features around so you only need rudimentary knowledge of how to use a compass, although it would pay to be able to use it quickly. When you're confident mapreading on walks, set yourself running courses you haven't done before by marking a route on a map with a highlighter pen (just like in MOB itself) and following it. I find routes that would take me 4 hours if they were signposted races take me around 6 hours, but then I find the mapreading challenging as I'm red/green colourblind. Also I stop to look at birds, flowers, deer or to chat to people!

    Having said the above, I've not done MOB yet, only half of MOBlite. I guess MOB's 54-mile stage would test one's mapreading, as part would be in the dark!
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 10:40

    I must have bumped into you at the lite earlier in the year Nigel. You doing it again this year ?
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 11:10

    There's another thread here:

    And Andy Blackford's article about the first MOB is here:

    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 11:23

    Hi Jason, Yes, we were marshalls together on the 2nd day. I'll be there (for the lite at least) this year, provided they update the website so I can enter! See you there!
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 11:24

    Hi David,

    How could I forget you - your fleece, at that time, felt the best thing in the world. Thank you again! I am doing the MOB again this year, so see you then! I would recommend this event to anyone, as long as you had a strong mind - you can do it!

    I found navigating fairly tricky, but then again I hadn't practised very much beforehand. I learned that the compass never lies - don't trust your instinct! And if you think you are going the wrong way - STOP and reassess, don't just keep running and hope you will miraculously get back on track!

    Happy New Year!

    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 11:43

    Ah... I knew the name sounded familier...see you again in march!
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 11:44

    Thamks for the advice everybody, have found a navigation skills course in the Lake District that looks good, think I'll pursue that.
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 20:54

    is that the joe faulkner one? always has good reviews although we did one at plas-y-brenin that i cant recomend highly enough.
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 21:36

    Don't know who runs it Ed. Where can I find out about the welsh sounding one?
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 21:44


    do you have a link for yours?
    actually there are quite a few around once you start looking !
    Posted: 04/01/2005 at 22:24

    Can you enter MOB for less if you are going to be self sufficient (Carrying tent and food)?
    Posted: 05/01/2005 at 11:48

    Posted: 05/01/2005 at 18:23

    Hi Matt,

    One of the best parts of MOB is living together in our community for the week. The camaraderie of your tentmates as well as dining together each day is the highlight for many. As well as the other competitors you have the chance to dine with the Crew too. In the MdeS this was the missing part for me and the race is hard enough without having to eat rabbit food. The food we provide is far better than you can bring yourself and our way gives you more time to enjoy the race. Also there are set rules for the week and with so many wanting to compete this year individual requirements are impossible to accommodate.

    Kind regards
    Rory Coleman
    Race Director

    Posted: 07/01/2005 at 22:26

    I,ve just returned to running after too much inactivity and pies over the last 12 months. I'm training for the Reading half at the moment and had as a target a marathon in 2005. I ran London a long time ago (1998) and a few of half-marathons that year. Is it realistic for a 12stone 2 38 year old to train up to this level? I do hill walking so carrying the pack is not an issue it's just the thought of 52 miles in one day!!
    Posted: 11/01/2005 at 17:40

    Shouldn't be a problem as long as you get the right training schedule and manage to avoid injury. It might be wise to maybe target MOB 2006 and use this year to get you up to just doing single ultras instead of multi stage ultras.
    If I win the lottery this weekend I'll enter:)
    Posted: 11/01/2005 at 17:54

    There are quite a few people looking for a 50-miler in prep for the MdeS or MOB later in the year. I am looking at the last weekend of January to put one on. Anyone interested in a jolly jaunt?
    Posted: 14/01/2005 at 08:54

    last weekend in jan Is a bit close to the meander isnt it?

    although the meander is fully booked and there where a few on the MDS board who couldnt get into the event and are looking for alternatives.

    Rory, whats the word on the MOB lite now?
    Posted: 14/01/2005 at 10:09

    It could well be only for those who can't get in on the Meander. I'm quite happy to do the 50 miles at a walk run pace. As I'm also at the Meander.

    How many are interested? As I can't see the MdeS board? If you want to run from Reading to London we can. I'll see if Steve Partridge is interested in being's about time he ran it I think!

    MOBlite is planned for June and dates will be released on the MOB site soon.

    Posted: 14/01/2005 at 10:35

    Rory if you want me to post on the Best of Morrocco MDS board about it to see what response It gets I will?

    If you start a thread on it on the MOB board I can direct them there or something.

    Posted: 14/01/2005 at 10:43

    Richard and I came up with the final outline of the new MOB event late today...

    It is going to be on Saturday 29th January 2005, and will follow the last 45 miles of the Grand Union Canal Race from Tring to Little Venice in London.

    The working title is Tring to Town Race. With only 13 days to work on will have to do. I think it will be interesting to watch this one unfold over the next few days, and will hopefully be great to be a part of.

    We've asked Mike and Helen Price to crew for the runners but if anyone else is free please let me know. We have all the water we need from the MOB in the summer, so all you have to do is carry your snacks for the day in a pack. We are looking for a suitable pub in and around Little Venice for post race drinks.

    We are going to make it a donation entry. The entry fee is for you to decide...we will donate this to our charity partner Action on Addiction.

    Tring is great because the canal is right next to the railway station, and there will be two trains leaving London Euston prior to the 8am start.

    It will be a no frills race, but hopefully anyone looking for an ultra for MdeS or MOB training or just the sheer hell of it, might just be interested.

    When we have further info I will let you know?

    Please email me at if you are want to compete or want to help. Alternatively phone 07909 903756 for any queries.

    Rich is posting the train times from Euston and I'm just about to work out the exact distance. I might even find out where the marathon distance is if that is what you are looking for.

    I could do a momento for the run at an extra cost, so again please let me know if you are interested.

    Jason please post this on the MdeS board for me, if you would be so kind.

    Entries so far are 2

    Richard and Me...Over to you.

    Kind regards
    Rory Coleman
    Race Director
    Marathon of Britain

    Posted: 14/01/2005 at 23:06

    i admire you guys, am not at that level yet
    Posted: 14/01/2005 at 23:46

    Distance measured is 43.7 miles.

    (26.2 point is at a bridge in Cowley Peachy where the B470 crosses at Bridge 189 to be precise). If you were thinking of marathon distance. Uxbridge Station is nearby.

    Start 420ft Finish 130ft and downhill in profile most of the way. The towpath is varying along the route and for anyone considering the GUCR in May this could be a great way of experiencing the last part of the epic race.

    More over the weekend no doubt...

    Posted: 15/01/2005 at 00:23

    Just bunged it on the MDS board. Im sure you'll get a few from there.

    Posted: 17/01/2005 at 08:49

    The MOB is not only an amazing running but has also provided fantastic support for its nominated charity, Action on Addiction. Last year the MOB runners raised just under £10,000 for the charity and we are really happy to be the nominated charity once again. If you are interested in raising money for Action on Addiction through the MOB please contact Katie at Action on Addiction. All contact details are available at our website
    Posted: 20/01/2005 at 11:49

    Did this last year and watched the DVD for about the 10th time last night.

    Good things - sense of achievement. New mates. Camaradarie (sp?). The ability to talk to world class athletes about diet and training. Love it.

    Bad Things - You end up wanting to do more. I can say, that even though this hurt more than anything I've ever completed, I was absolutely gutted that the event was over.

    Do it and be surprised. It aint about fitness really. If you can run/walk a marathon, you can finish this. It's all in the mind. You learn that as you go along.
    Posted: 03/08/2005 at 19:46

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