15 amazing UK marathons that aren't in London

Keen to run a marathon but didn't get into London? There are plenty of great 26.2 alternatives in the UK to tackle this year.

by Rhalou Allerhand
Getty Images

Tempted to try your hand (or legs) at 26.2 but reluctant to break the bank? While we’d all love to enter the Marathon Majors and run in the sun, overseas travel can cost a fortune, and many of us didn't get a place in the London Marathon ballot. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent races taking place across the UK this year that are considerably easier to get to (and get into). Check out our top 15 UK marathons and start training for 26.2 miles of joy (and some pain) today.

1. ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon - 2nd April 2017

Billed as the flattest, fastest and friendliest UK marathon and held entirely on closed, main roads, The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon is perfect for PB chasing. Finishing outside Old Trafford stadium, race day promises the crowd of a big city race but with a less jam-packed running field.

2. Brighton Marathon – 9th April 2017

Held shortly before London with the same great crowd support plus the stunning backdrop of the sea, the Brighton Marathon is a brilliant UK marathon. And as an added bonus, afterwards weary runners can whip off their race vest and jump straight into the sea for a well-earned ice bath.

3. Blackpool Marathon - 23rd April 2017

Held on Blackpool's Promenade passing all the great landmarks and tourist spots including Blackpool Tower and the pier, head over to the seaside for this fantastic coastal marathon. A flat and fast route with plenty of spots for loved ones to cheer from, the Blackpool Marathon is the perfect day out for the whole family and will be much easier on the pocket, should you decide to stick around for the weekend.

4. Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend – 29th April 2017

Over 1,200 runners are expected to take part in this multi-terrain Mid Sussex race that brings the three towns of East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill together. Covering undulating roads, trails and pathways in and around Mid Sussex, it’s the perfect spring race in a glorious country setting.

5. Great Welsh Marathon – 30th April 2017

With stunning sea views set along Llanelli's Millennium Coastal Park, this flat, traffic-free course is a glorious race and really puts Wales on the map.

6. Three Forts Marathon - 30th April 2017

Known as 'The Tough One', the Three Forts Marathon covers 27 miles of the glorious South Downs. With 3450 feet of climbing and plenty of stiles and rough tracks to contend with, this exciting multi-terrain event might be a touch more challenging than your average city race, but you definitely get your money’s worth.

7. Milton Keynes Marathon – 1st May 2017

A speedy and scenic route taking in tree-lined boulevards, picturesque lakes, green parks and lush woodland and finishing with a victory lap of the Championship football stadium, the Milton Keynes Marathon is ideal for keen marathoners not wishing to travel too far afield to take on the mighty 26.2 miles.

8. Bewl Water Marathon - 13th May 2017

Set in the picturesque Sussex countryside, the two-lap course follows a circular trail around the lake, looking onto spectacular views of the surrounding Kent countryside. With undulating woodland, open meadows and quiet country lanes, the Bewl Marathon promises to be a serene marathon adventure.

9. Brathay Windermere Marathon - 21st May 2017

Set in the Lake District circling Britain's largest body of water, the Brathay Windermere Marathon was voted the UK's most scenic marathon (by us) and we weren't lying. With the running field capped at 1,500, take on 26.2 at a leisurely pace surrounded by the most stunning scenery you can imagine.

10. Edinburgh Marathon – 28th May 2017

With over 30,000 runners set to enter, Scotland's largest running festival is the perfect alternative to London. If its fast, flat route around the beautiful city of Edinburgh isn't enough to tempt you, they also offer guaranteed entry to all unsuccessful London Marathon applicants.

11. Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon – 27th/28th May 2017

With over 30 live bands en route, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon promises to be a fun-packed race around Liverpool, taking in the sights along the infamous Mersey and finishing with a party at the Albert Dock that will make you forget about transatlantic races and feel proud to live in the super cool UK.

12. Robin Hood Festival of Running - 24th September 2017

Set alongside the river Trent, the Robin Hood Festival of Running explores the lovely Nottinghamshire countryside, taking in the National Water Sports Centre and Holme Pierrepont Hall before returning along the Trent cycle path to County Hall and up the tree-lined Victoria Embankment to the finish line.

13. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon – 24th September 2017

The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has attracted visitors to this fascinating part of Scotland for many years, but the cracking scenery is responsible for countless return visits. Launched in 2002, the 26.2-mile race around Scotland’s iconic Loch Ness has built a solid reputation as one of the UK’s most scenic marathons, with good reason. The route takes in breathtaking sights along the south-eastern shore, across the River Ness, and into the centre of Inverness, with a 50 grand reward for the lucky runner who spots Nessie in the inking black waters of the beautiful loch.

14. Bournemouth Marathon - 8th October 2017

This speedy route takes runners along the stunning Bournemouth coast, first heading east through Boscombe before doubling back all the way to Sandbanks. Returning to Bournemouth Pier for a buzzing finish, the fast, flat course is ideal for first-timers and PB hunters, and with a beautiful sea view to boot.

15. Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon - 8th October 2017

A popular and picturesque run with fantastic PB potential, The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon takes over 7,000 runners past some of York's most historic sites and along scenic traffic-free country lanes, making it an excellent race for runners of all abilities and a true gem of the UK.

Previous story
Kelly Holmes to run the London Marathon
Next story
New Year new you: Best races for beginners in 2016

uk marathons, alternatives to london marathon

Discuss this story

I can't believe that you missed out the Bath Two Tunnels marathon, where runners actually travel UNDER the outskirts of the city before running back through the historic centre

Posted: 22/01/2016 at 13:42

I can't believe Blackpool was included. Horrible 2 lap out and back course getting abuse yelled by drunken numpties on weekend away. Worse race ever!

Posted: 02/02/2016 at 16:16

Manchester? You have to be joking! Haven't you been paying attention? This year, it took longer to reclaim bags than it did for the winner to finish. For the past three years, nobody has run a pb there, because the course was short. Get a grip!

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 01:08

Not sure who Rhalou Allerhand, who wrote the article is, but she definitely hasn't run all these.

Looks more like an advertisement, but facts are in short supply, e.g "fast, flat route around the beautiful city of Edinburgh" No, flat route to Musselburgh more like.

So, large pinch of salt needed, and a look at the reviews before you take her advice, or you might have entered Manchester, nuff said?
Posted: 29/04/2016 at 08:44

I will just point out that this article appeared before all the stuff about Manchester came out - but yes, it is a bit rubbish.  Describing MK as scenic makes no sense at all. I haven't done the marathon, but there is nothing scenic about the place, so the marathon can't be either.

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 08:48

Forgot to add she may be a runner, Rhalou, but as a researcher, writing articles on events she doesn't appear to have run, leaves a lot to be desired.

Doesn't even appear to read RW, as no Halstead, which IS scenic and consistently appears in RW top 10UK marathons and yes, I am biased having run it 5 times, but at least its an opinion based on experience, not organisers puffs.
Posted: 29/04/2016 at 08:59

I like a bit of satire & Irony !! Manchester is sponsored by Asics who are obviously big advertisers in the magazine & one the website so no surprise there - money talks. 

No Giants Head, No Larmer Tree, No Great Langdale. 

Of those I have done Robin Hood (6 times), Milton Keynes & Windermere (60 times) are all fantastic events - Brighton, Edinburgh & Blackpool I wouldn't bother doing again.

Posted: 11/10/2016 at 14:43

Foxy Enigma wrote (see)

Of those I have done Robin Hood (6 times), Milton Keynes & Windermere (60 times) are all fantastic events - Brighton, Edinburgh & Blackpool I wouldn't bother doing again.

very impressive!

Posted: 11/10/2016 at 15:07

Remember the Richmond Marathon includes running through Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace! 17th September, 2017. www.richmondrunningfestival.com

Posted: 11/10/2016 at 17:57

I have read this article three times and what comes to mind is the fact that at all of these events you are simply a number, your name may be on your top but personality is rarely revealed.....well I want to tell you about an event where your name, personality, strength, resolve and determination are applauded by all participants and support crews. The Forces March (Wednesday 24th May 2017 - Sunday 28th May 2017 is a run / walk tough challenge which can be entered either for one or five days in any sequence. Each day is slightly over 26.2 miles campsite to campsite from Ilfracombe, North Devon to Bulford, Wiltshire and is organised and in aid of The Veterans Charity. Go on give it a look and be part of something amazing .....www.forcesmarch.org.uk

Posted: 12/10/2016 at 11:23

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

RW competitions

  • Closing date: 30/10/2016