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 more than a handful of runners are unable to make our very own London. 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. Three Forts Marathon - 1st May
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.
2. Mid Sussex Marathon Weekend – 30th April
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.
3. Milton Keynes Marathon – 2nd May
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.
4. Bewl Water Marathon - 14th May
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.
5. Brathay Windermere Marathon - 22nd May
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.
6. Edinburgh Marathon Festival – 28th/29th May
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.
7. Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon – 28th/29th May
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.
8. Great Welsh Marathon – 17th April
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.
9. Brighton Marathon – 17th April
Held a week 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.
10. ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon - 10th April
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.
11. Blackpool Marathon - 24th April
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.
12. Robin Hood Festival of Running - 25th September
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 – 25th September
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 - 2nd October
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 - 9th October
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.