The 9 best marathons in the UK 2021
That’s right folks, competitive races are back on this year. And, what better than the biggest and most rewarding beast of them all, the marathon? While 26.2 miles might seem like a serious challenge, an organised event will give you the motivation to get over the finish-line and push the boundaries of what you think is possible. From secluded coastal paths to big city vibes, here’s our pick of the best marathons in UK.
When: Sun 30th May 2021 (Virtual) / Sun 29th May 2022 (Physical)
The route: Starting in the grounds of Edinburgh university, the Edinburgh Marathon takes runners on a tour of the fabulous and historical city, passing Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh Castle and finally leading out beyond Arthur’s Seat.
Run it for: Cobbled streets and historical landmarks.
The Edinburgh Marathon is great for beginners and experienced runners alike, considering it’s a fast one with plenty to feast your eyes on. Sitting prominently within the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, there’s a great sense of camaraderie and you’ll be certain to feel the support of other keen runners and cheerful crowds.
When: Sun 17th Oct 2021
The route: There is a reason this is one of the best marathons in the UK. It kicks off at the University of York, and takes you past a number of this Cathedral city’s iconic and historical sites. Described by previous entrants as ‘Yorkshire Flat’ the route is generally flat, but with a couple of hills to navigate during the 26.2 miles – with one to watch out for around the 5 mile mark.
Run it for: Tranquil country lanes, and great sideline support.
Top tip, leave plenty of time to get to the certain of York to make your start time. The university is large site and can be confusing if you’ve never been before!
Snowdonia Trail Marathon
When: 11th July 2021
Route: Starting at the bottom of the mountain, the Snowdonia Trail Marathon takes runners on a 1,685 meter climb, which includes tackling Snowdon itself.
Run it for: Stunning views of Snowdonia National Park.
The Snowdonia Trail Marathon is best for those adventurous ones who aren’t afraid of heights – or calf burn. This is one for experienced runners looking for a new challenge and who understand the challenges of fell running, such as scrambling up paths and finding your way in sparse countryside.
Virgin Money London Marathon
When: 3rd October 2021
The route: Best marathons in the UK? Virgin Money London Marathon easily makes a best marathons in the world list. A famous route, the London Marathon takes its runners through the heart of the capital, starting in leafy Blackheath and passing the Cutty Sark, the London Eye and ending with a bang (or bong!) at Big Ben.
Run it for: One of the best atmospheres in the world.
The London Marathon is an impressive one – which is why it’s so difficult to get a space. There’s a great team spirit and you’ll spot runners in crazy costumes all the way round, even in sweltering heat. Plus, you might even make an appearance on TV, making it extra special.
Salty Sea Dog Marathon
When: 4th April 2021
The route: Based in Bournemouth, runners start at Boscombe Pier and travel along the coast towards Henginsbury Head, taking in the stunning views at spectacular Sandbanks.
Run it for: Sea air and painted beach huts.
Salty Sea Dog Marathon is a great one because it’s self navigating, adding an extra level to the challenge. Taking runners along one of most beautiful coastal routes in the UK, it’s a peaceful stunner guaranteed to make you remember why you enjoy running. Don’t forget to grab some fish and chips at the end.
Royal Windsor River Trail Run
When: 3rd October 2021
The route: Starting and ending at Windsor Castle, home of the Queen, this race takes runners on a cheerful flat route along the Thames Valley, passing Boveney Lock and Eton.
Run it for: A hopeful sight of British royalty.
The Royal Windsor River Trail Run is great for those looking to dabble in trail running without much worry. It’s a stunning and enjoyable marathon which follows river trail paths and displays some of the best UK countryside.
The Surrey Hills Challenge
When: 26 September 2021
Route: Starting in the picturesque village of Witley, the route follows a footpath through scenic trails along Hydon’s Ball, Hascombe Hill and Leith Hill, before ascending into the North Downs Way.
Run it for: The next step after a road marathon.
The Surrey Hills Challenge is great for road runners looking to venture into trail running. This is because it’s a sturdy route almost entirely following footpaths, making it slightly easier than other trail runs, but still a welcome challenge. Expect delightful views and a great atmosphere, as this is a well organised event with plenty to keep your eyes occupied.
When: 10 October 2021
The route: Taking place entirely on closed main roads, runners start on the A56, head through the city centre and out to Altrincham, before returning to Old Trafford for the big finish.
Run it for: A flat, fast run where you can aim for your PB.
Surprisingly, the Manchester Marathon is one of the flattest in the UK. Runners enjoy speeding through the city centre and out into the nearby countryside, before looping back to the city. It’s a great one to try and achieve your personal best – or ideal for your first ever marathon.
Brecon Beacons Trail Challenge
When: 29th May 2021
The route: Set in the Brecon Beacons, this route takes runners on an adventurous climb of Pen Y Fan followed by its neighboring peak, Cribyn.
Run it for: Friendly marshals and the sense of adventure.
The Brecon Beacons Trail Challenge is a popular one among serious athletes. Climbing the highest peaks in South Wales, it’s a serious calf burner and isn’t one for those without prior hill training. It’s also well known to have a great atmosphere and lots of friendly marshals along the way.
This is our pick of the best marathons in the UK this year. But there are 100s of other great marathon events to choose from. If you can’t make any of the above, then check out our other marathons here.