The UK's Best Running Cities (Preview)

We've crunched the numbers to sort the frontrunners from the back-of-the-packers in the race for Britain's top urban running spot



by Adrian Monti

runner looking out window at London
We take a look around the country at the UK's best running cities. Photo: Getty Images.

We last pitted Britain’s cities against each other to find the best spots for runners three years ago. And with stats painstakingly pored over, it’s clear that it’s not just the final standings that have changed.

Running has become even more popular since 2009, and that’s before the post-Olympic feel-good factor kicks in. Speaking to people at the grassroots of running in the UK’s cities, several themes kept recurring.

Every city that hosts a Parkrun – free 5K timed weekend runs in parks and open spaces – has seen an increase in the overall number of runners on its streets. And that in turn has led to more people joining clubs, signing up for races and fitting regular running into their lives.

Another common thread was how social media has become a powerful way of getting people running. Messages tweeted or slapped on Facebook have helped create a more inclusive running community. Finally, even more women-only clubs and running projects are being set up in our cities, giving members a place for their confidence to flourish.

So how does your city measure up? Does Swansea’s high rainfall – more than 1,300mm a year – put you off running along its stunning coastline? Or has Stoke’s lack of dedicated running shops kept you from the Potteries’ cracking local races?

Every location has something to offer its residents and visiting runners – here’s how the UK’s 20 busiest cities rate.

How we did our survey

Taking the top 20 UK cities by population, we factored in the following data:

Running participation (RUN)
Number of affiliated running clubs (CLUB)
Number of road races per year (RACE)
Number of specialist running shops (SHOP)
Green space and population density (POP)
Violent crime in the last six months (CRIME)
Air quality measured in PM10 diesel particles (AIR)
Annual hours of sunshine (SUN)
Average yearly rainfall (RAIN).

We factored these per head of population (where appropriate), and the total scores produced our final rankings. The separate rankings in each city profile are relative to other cities.

On the next page: Find out if your city is one of the 20 to make the grade.


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