Races of the Year 2011: Trail

Discover the cream of the offroad crop

new forest 10
New Forest 10

1. The Trionium Picnic Marathon, Dorking, Surrey
Date in 2012: June 23
Possibly Britain’s hardest marathon, and definitely one of the most atmospheric, the Picnic Marathon takes in over 1,800m of climb over two laps of an out-and-back course in the stunning North Downs. Entry includes an event memento, a medal and a post-race picnic.

On the same day and venue, you'll find the equally popular Trionium Midsummer Munro Half-Marathon - perfect if you're not quite ready to go the full distance.

2. North Downs Run 30K, Gravesend, Kent
Date in 2012: June (TBC)
Explore the breathtaking North Downs with a 30K course on tracks threading through woods, fields and parkland. Once you’re done, enjoy the barbecue, swimming and live music on site at the Cascades Leisure Centre race HQ.

3. Eridge Park 10 Trail Challenge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Date in 2012: September 9
With its ‘delightfully muddy’ course through a privately owned deer park and ancient woodland, runners loved pounding their way through Victorian follies, a Saxon fort, a Chalybeate spring and sand caves. Bring trail shoes and money for the beer tent afterwards.

4. Cross Bay Challenge 13.1, Flookburgh, Cumbria
Date in 2012: August 12
This unusual event not only crosses a tidal bay, but also ticks off two counties (Cumbria and Lancashire) and two rivers to boot. The point-to-point course traverses the sands of Morecambe Bay and has its origins in a 13th century path trodden by monks, who assisted travellers across the bay. Enter online.

5. Trionium Leith Hill Half, Dorking, Surrey
Date in 2012: March 18
Another Trionium race, this out-and-back course challenges you to scale the mighty 265m Leith Hill. Come early to see the wife-carrying race and stay late to enjoy a post-race fry-up and a free swim. Enter online.

6. Adidas Thunder Run 24HR, Tamworth, Derbyshire
Date in 2012: July 28
This 24-hour challenge sees teams and solo runners contending with changing conditions, sleep deprivation and night running on an offroad 10K course. You loved the camaraderie and the top-notch facilities. In only its third year, it sold out way in advance, suggesting there are more nutters in the UK than previously thought.

7. Bewl 15, Wadhurst, East Sussex
Date in 2012: July 1
A full round of the beautiful official Bewl Water circuit, the largest lake in south-east England, this is a chance to enjoy a run through the gently rolling hills on the  borders of East Sussex and Kent. It’s a decent family day out, too, with face-painting, tai chi, a barbecue and much more located at race HQ to keep everyone happy. Enter online.

8. Croome Capability Canter 6.5, Worcester, Worcestershire
Date in 2012: November (TBC)
In order to protect the parkland, there’s a strict limit of 250 runners at this scenic, winding course through Croome Park, Capability Brown’s first complete landscape, and its surrounding countryside. This means there’s always a bun fight to enter each year, which only adds to its legendary status.

9. Beachy Head Marathon, Eastbourne, East Sussex
Date in 2012: October 27
Forget the 1,000m of ascent. Forget the myriad gates, stiles and steps to navigate along the cliffs over the Seven Sisters. Forget battling through the bracing sea breezes. Forget the warm atmosphere and excellent organisation. It was the scrummy sausage rolls at the water stations that ticked your boxes, wasn’t it? Enter online.

10. New Forest 10, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
Date in 2012: July 8
Explore the quieter corners of the New Forest in this charming single lapper. The relatively flat route, sure-footed organisation and rousing crowd support makes this a perfect introduction to trail running, and its main selling point is that nothing ever seems to go wrong. Enter online.

Previous article
Races of the Year 2011: Beginners
Next article
Races of the Year 2011


Discuss this article

Wonderful  - thank you RW - and thanks to the runners who voted for The Picnic marathon and Midsummer Munro half marathon races!

It has to be said that The Picnic was named after suggestions from RW forumites (and happily echoes not only poet George Meredith's donkey, 'Picnic' stabled near the start of the race and Jane Austen's Emma's picnic, which took place at the top of Box Hill). The alternative name for The Picnic was going to be 'The Crippler.' The Picnic is such a dementedly hard race, that the race charity is MIND, the mental health charity.

 Thanks again! (Rob - organiser) 

Posted: 11/01/2012 at 11:06


Many thanks Runners World and to everyone who voted for us!  January has seen a massive surge in registrations due to the resolution season.  New Year New Challenge. Crossing sand, sea and county borders, this flat but challenging run…  expect to get wet, very wet! Numbers are limited so sign up now  if you haven’t already to avoid disappointment.  Join us on the notorious sands of Morecambe Bay for the 2012 Cross Bay Challenge.     Best wishes for 2012 and look forward to seeing you all on the 12th August 2012!  Fundraising Team at CancerCare, Local Cancer Support Service  www.crossbay.org.uk
Posted: 11/01/2012 at 14:09

As the club that organises the Croome Capability Canter, thank you for voting for us and getting the race to No. 8 in only its second year. We will be advising of the date for the next race over the next 4-8 weeks, so keep an eye on our website www.blackpearjoggers.org.uk

 Once again thank you.

Posted: 14/01/2012 at 19:19


I know this list is a couple of years old, but surely you could have found a few more decent races outside of the homish counties?

Surrey 2; Kent 2; East Sussex 2; Hampshire 1

Worcs 1; Derbs 1; Cumbria 1

Bottom 10% of UK: 7 races

Top 90% of UK: 3 races

Posted: 16/04/2013 at 16:46

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.