Looking for the best marathons in the UK? We’ve got the perfect bucket list for you!
Runners love the UK’s for its diverse range of marathons, often steeped in local history, culture and heritage. From the bustling streets of London to the rolling hills of the Lake District, there’s a variety of scenic and challenging routes that will appeal to every distance runner: beginner or advanced.
From the London Marathon, one of the most prestigious races in the world, to smaller community-based events, the UK’s marathons range from small events featuring less than 100 participants, to some of the largest events on the racing calendar.
Whether you’re a Brit looking to see what marathons are on offer in your home country, or an overseas runner looking to cherry pick the ‘Best of the Best’, there’s plenty of excellent marathons to choose from.
- Our Pick of the 21 Best Marathons in the UK
- 1. London Marathon
- 2. Edinburgh Marathon
- 3. Manchester Marathon
- 4. CODopoly Triple Challenge
- 5. TEC Brecon Beacons Trail Challenge
- 6. The Veloforte Wales Marathon
- 7. The Maverick Adidas Terrex X-Series Exmoor
- 8. Running Grand Prix at Goodwood Motor Circuit
- 9. ABP Southampton Marathon
- 10. MBNA Chester Metric Marathon
- 11. Wuthering Heights Wander
- 12. Race the Tide
- 13. Tsunami Ocean Trails
- 14. Blackpool Marathon
- 15. Roche Abbey Trail Running Festival
- 16. TEC Snowdonia Spring Crossing
- 17. ASICS Windermere Marathon
- 18. Whole Earth Man vs. Horse
- 19. Farnham Pilgrim Marathon
- 20. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon
- 21. Mid-Sussex Marathon
Our Pick of the 21 Best Marathons in the UK
We’ll start with some of the most famous British marathons, including the London, Edinburgh and Greater Manchester events. But ask an experienced runner and he or she will tell you that some of the lesser known races are just as enjoyable — for different reasons!
Let’s take a look…
1. London Marathon
Ticking off the London Marathon is a rites of passage for any UK-based distance runner.
Yes, it’s busy. Yes, it’s absolutely crazy. There’s fancy-dressed charity runners as far as the eye can see. But the legendary 26.2 miles around central London makes for one of the most well-known and prestigious marathon in the UK, if not the world.
It has a long-standing history and attracts runners from all over the globe, making it an iconic event that many aspire to take part in, up there with the Boston Marathon for ‘Bucket List‘ honours.
The course is one of the most scenic and history-packed routes in the world, taking runners through the bustling streets of London and past many of the city’s most famous landmarks. From the starting line at Blackheath to the finish line on The Mall, the London Marathon is a nationwide spectacle that draws in thousands of spectators to help you sprint (or fall!) over the line.
Starting location: Blackheath
Event Available: Marathon, “Mini-Marathon” is held the day before for kids
Price of Participation: £49.99 for UK entrants, £120 for international entrants
2. Edinburgh Marathon
If we had to choose a UK marathon that is perfect for attempting a Personal Best, or for running a first marathon, it would have to be the legendary Edinburgh Marathon. This route is as flat and as fast as they come. Your main problem will be wrestling through the gigantic sea of other runners, given this is Scotland’s largest and busiest marathon by far.
One of the highlights of the Edinburgh Marathon is the start of the race, which is located near the famous Edinburgh Castle. As you set off, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city, including the historic Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
It’s a beautiful race, packed full of enthusiastic supporters who’ll be there to cheer you on for every mile of the journey. Head to the Edinburgh Marathon if you want to attempt a fast marathon in optimal conditions for speed.
Starting location: Potterrow
Event Available: Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £66 to £141
3. Manchester Marathon
Formerly known as the Greater Manchester Marathon, the “Greater” was dropped in 2020.
This is the fourth largest marathon in Europe, and another excellent candidate if you are looking for a major race that ticks the box of fast and flat. Many British runners target the Manchester event for a PB attempt given the favourable conditions on course.
The route traces along some of Manchester’s most iconic landmarks, including Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United. You’ll pass from the city centre to Stretford, and then on to Sale and Altringham before looping back for a mad dash to the finish line on Talbot Road via Seymour Grove.
Expect busy crowds, a festive atmosphere and a lot of serious faces from experienced runners looking to go hard at their PBs!
Starting location: Under the arch at White City Way
Event Available: Marathon
Price of Participation: £79
4. CODopoly Triple Challenge
Starting off the list is the CODopoly Triple Challenge, which originally caught our eye when viewing the custom-made medals received after the marathon’s completion. This marathon derives its name from the classic board game Monopoly.
We doubt there are copyright issues with stylizing a marathon medal after such a well-known game, but it would be a fantastic centerpiece in an award display. Immediately catching your attention, this medal will be a great reminder of a weekend filled with athletic activities and exciting courses.
Each day of the three-day-long event offers the same course options listed below. Running races should be fun, and since this race only takes place annually, you can enjoy a full weekend of running, challenging yourself with different distances each day.
Enjoy the same marathon three days in a row, or switch between different distances throughout the weekend. If you happen to bring friends or family, multiple days allow parents to switch between watching the children while participating.
Starting location: Coalport
Event Available: 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £28 to £38 per race
5. TEC Brecon Beacons Trail Challenge
This off-road marathon challenges the participating runners’ feet by jumping from one terrain to the next throughout the predetermined route. Move from grass fields to well-kept gravel paths to green hills with rock-carved paths imprinting the marathon’s route into the soil.
The continual switch between rigorous terrain provides new obstacles as you adjust your pace and footing to maintain your position and avoid slowing down. This may be second nature for seasoned runners, but novice athletes might find this terrain more advanced than they can handle, so keep this in mind.
For veteran runners that want to enjoy the sights further, Brecon Beacons Trail Challenge offers a 52-kilometer ultra marathon. But, don’t worry, the marathon doesn’t skimp on the beautiful scenery.
You’ll still have the chance to enjoy the peaceful Talybont forest, the calm waters of the local reservoir, and the luscious greenery surrounding you as you ascend the overlapping hilly paths.
Once you finally complete the marathon, you might continue running along the marathon’s route just to revisit all the wonderful sights. But make sure to collect your medal as you zoom through the finish line.
Starting Location: Talybont-on-Usk
Events Available: 11k, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon (52k)
Price of Participation: £33 to £68
6. The Veloforte Wales Marathon
There’s absolutely nothing better than a red carpet to lift your spirits and bring a sense of joy. Putting the last of your energy into completing the race is rewarded with cheering locals and a red carpet to help usher you through the last stretch of the marathon.
Of course, setting the event in an idyllic town helps add further charm to the Veloforte Wales Marathon. Keeping pace along the path, you can catch wonderful views of Tenby Castle and Tenby Harbour.
With all there is to see along the way, there’s still the city proper for you to marvel at. This picturesque town feels like it’s welcoming you to its quaint shops and cozy streets.
After finishing the event, feel free to explore Tenby and its surrounding areas to take in the serenity of the location.
Starting location: Tenby
Event Available: 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £20 to £55
7. The Maverick Adidas Terrex X-Series Exmoor
Make sure you talk about this marathon as much as possible before you start. The verbose marathon name will leave you breathless halfway through repeating it, which is great training for the race.
Considering the massive 58 kilometers in the ultra marathon, this extremely fun yet challenging course will test your body and skills. Register for the ultra marathon and enjoy successfully conquering the brutally lengthy course.
Putting distances aside for a moment, this course is truly stunning. Racing along the edge of a continuous cliffside overlooking the coastline will knock you off your feet. But don’t actually get knocked off your feet – that would be incredibly dangerous.
Distracting yourself with beautiful scenery helps keep your mind off thoughts about how much further the course continues, how much your muscles burn, and how thirsty you may be. This marathon will have you floating through a hilly paradise and make you wonder how the marathon ended so quickly.
The only real downside is that you’ll regret not having the opportunity to take enough pictures to fill an external hard drive. The dazzling landscape is worth a few shots to reminisce about later.
Starting location: Caffyns Farm
Event Available: 15k, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon (58k)
Price of Participation: £35 to £75
8. Running Grand Prix at Goodwood Motor Circuit
The Goodwood Motor Circuit is a track intended for car racing, but it is transformed into a marathon circuit in February each year. Welcoming runners and their support teams onto the track lets fans of both sports enjoy the same space with different purposes.
This official Grand Prix track accommodates new and seasoned athletes as they do laps around the track, racing toward the finish line. Although pulling into the pit lane in this particular race is unwise, there are plenty of opportunities to rehydrate.
Bring friends and family with you to cheer you on from a safe distance as you pass them by at top speed. Thankfully, making the revving and whooshing sounds is not required, as you should be saving your energy to be the first to see that glorious checkered flag.
Starting location: Chichester
Events Available: 5k, 10, Half Marathon, 20 miles, Marathon
Price of Participation: £26 to £35
9. ABP Southampton Marathon
You may have noticed a trend with these marathons – many are in idyllic, small towns surrounded by peaceful nature and friendly locals. The ABP Southampton Marathon continues this trend by placing you in Southampton.
Locating and arriving at the Guild Hall for the start line is the first step out of many to begin your race day. Following the designated route will have you pass several historical landmarks.
Your attention will be constantly drawn at every turn and stretch in the race. Although it may prove difficult to keep your eyes focused on where you are going, you’ll have to save the sightseeing for the next time you return.
Falling for Southampton and its marathon is the easy part. Waiting an entire year to participate in the next ABP Southampton Marathon will be a challenge.
At the end of the marathon, you will be awarded a vibrant yellow and blue medal to commemorate the experience. This square medal is a fine addition to your growing number of athletic awards at your home.
Starting location: Southampton
Event Available: 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £24.70 to £48.33
10. MBNA Chester Metric Marathon
The MBNA Chester Metric Marathon only offers one event for the day, which may seem limiting at first. But, arriving in Chester and participating in the race will soon change your mind about there only being one event and it being limiting.
Shops and restaurants straight from the Middle Ages line the brick-lined streets for a portion of this marathon’s route. You’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of the small town as you turn the corner and are greeted by the spectacular gothic cathedral.
Departing the town, you’ll find peaceful and inspiring landscapes throughout the entire marathon. There are so many lovely streets packed with much to see and do.
Of course, it’s best to wait until after the marathon to go shopping, as you would most likely lose your position in the race. As much as we appreciate a sale, maybe save the savings until you have your medal.
Starting location: Chester
Event Available: Marathon
Price of Participation: £43
11. Wuthering Heights Wander
Several of the marathons featured in this list are rife with historical or cultural significance. The Wuthering Heights Wander is our first example of a significant location.
For the athletes that recognize the name of this marathon, it adopted the name from “Wuthering Heights,” a book written by Emily Brontë, who once lived in Haworth. The marathon begins between Brontë’s family home and the church where she was laid to rest.
Around the corner from the start line is Haworth’s Main Street, which is packed with cute shops, cozy restaurants, and interesting curiosities nestled up to the narrow brick-lined street. The town of Haworth, its quaint vibe, and the significance of the Brontë family are reasons enough to visit the town.
The beauty of the region extends much further from the town itself. Once you break free of Haworth, the marathon’s path gives a full view of the rolling creeks, rock-covered hills, and breathtaking scenery that must be experienced in person.
After you’ve completed the Wuthering Heights Wander, visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum to take in the history of the famous family that left such a mark on Haworth.
Starting location: Haworth
Event Available: 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles, 20 miles, Marathon, Ultra Marathon (30 miles)
Price of Participation: £22 to £50
12. Race the Tide
This race starts on the Fleet Estate, specifically at an Italian-influenced restaurant named Schoolhouse Devon. You can cross your fingers that the restaurant opens before the race so that you can grab some pizza or pasta, but likely you’ll be out of luck. The finish line is far south in another culturally significant location.
The course covers different terrain as you move from a narrow farmland path to the sands of Bigbury Beach to crossing through the waters of the River Erme and continuing nearly the rest of the marathon on a stable path.
Shortly after starting the marathon, you’ll find yourself trekking through the waters of River Erme so you can ditch your floaties early into the race. Thankfully, as most of the race is alongside coastal cliffs, the sea winds will do short work of drying you off.
Fighting off muscle fatigue and vertigo from racing alongside the edge of a cliff, you’ll eventually reach a town where you’ll cross another beach. Rather than jumping into the water once more, you’ll cross the sands to reach Burgh Island.
What’s the deal with Burgh Island, you may ask? This island grew in popularity as famous author Agatha Christie considered the island her second home and wrote two novels while living there.
What’s most impressive is that Burgh Island has remained relatively untouched except for the addition of several small buildings. Standing in the middle of the tiny island allows you spectacular 360-degree views while you catch your breath after the long journey.
Starting location: Mothecombe
Event Available: Woodland Trail, Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £30 to £52
13. Tsunami Ocean Trails
This marathon is the stuff of nightmares, so why add it to a list that boasts the best marathons in the UK? This challenging (and grueling) marathon can be fun for adventurous athletes who want to test themselves to the fullest.
The Tsunami 24 is a 75-mile trail not for the fainthearted. This marathon is another cliff path that runs along the coast but has far more treacherous deviations in altitude.
Beginning the event at Clovelly Harbour is a complete red herring. The town, comprised of cozy homes, puts you into a false sense of serenity and soon cascades down the side of a steep hill until eventually meeting the water’s edge.
Almost immediately after leaving the comforts of the coastal town, you are caught off guard by the sheer brutality the course has in store for you. The Tsunami 24 has you fighting against every grueling incline and rejoicing for each short-lived decline.
Although there are fantastic views of the open waters, because the event begins at 7 pm, you’re left imagining how much fun you should be having. This tough trek over and across the green coastal cliffs places you far from civilization, as there are no villages along the route.
Thankfully, the other events take place the next morning after a restful sleep. Even though those courses may be shorter, they still pose several challenges.
Finishing the event leaves you directly in front of The Castle Bude, sandwiched between Summerleaze Beach and the rest of Bude.
Starting location: Bude
Event Available: 16 miles, Marathon, Ultra Marathon (37 miles), Tsunami 24 (75 miles)
Price of Participation: £40 to £110
14. Blackpool Marathon
The seaside city of Blackpool has many easily accessible amusements, like the Blackpool North Pier, the Ferris wheel on the pier, and Blackpool Tower, to name a few. Another notable amusement takes place annually at the end of April – the Blackpool Marathon.
The start line for the race is easily found as it is near Blackpool Tower, the red and white tower jutting from the ground dwarfing all its surrounding buildings.
During this event is a 2-kilometer course designed for children ages four and up. With an affordable entry fee to all the races, this is a great way to draw in all levels of runners and encourages moms and dads to share their athletic pastimes with their children.
With the Blackpool North Pier within walking distance from the finish line, this makes for a fantastic day with the family sharing activities and interests alike.
Starting location: Blackpool
Event Available: 2k, 5k, 10, Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £6 to £40
15. Roche Abbey Trail Running Festival
The trail for this marathon will absolutely blow you away, which may be why many runners avoid this race. But throw caution to the wind, grab your running shoes, and make your way to Sheffield for this fantastic course.
Why on Earth are we this ecstatic about the Roche Abbey Trail? Well, for one reason, it’s definitely because of the Roche Abbey ruins.
Before the ruins became a tourist attraction, it was originally a gothic Cistercian monastery founded in the 12th century. Many years later, parts of the abbey still peek out of the ground, welcoming the runners of this marathon as they pass by.
Surrounding the former monastery to the south and east is a lush forest that offers a view of Laughton Pond. Shortly afterward, you will enter a serene forest and find yourself dodging the trees to continue your mission to reach the finish line to achieve your best possible time.
Besides the ruins of Roche Abbey and the nearby forest, you’ll enjoy the serenity of avoiding populated streets by snaking through the fields and around local farms.
Starting location: Sheffield
Event Available: 10k, 20 miles, Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £22 to £50
16. TEC Snowdonia Spring Crossing
Typically, this incline-heavy marathon is blanketed in a sheet of snow, making it infinitely more difficult to traverse. Fortunately for the athletes competing in this marathon, the late-March Snowdonia Spring Crossing should provide fairer weather.
The temperamental weather in the United Kingdom could lead to a pleasant run across the winding paths that make up this marathon or present chilling weather that may leave your teeth chattering. Such is the life of a marathon runner. And that’s the sort of challenge we are here for!
No matter what the weather provides, you’ll be soaking up the sights along the narrow paths and hilly terrain. Roughing the inclines will be the only major challenge associated with this course, but it will be more rewarding once you cross the finish line.
The tiny Welsh village of Rhyd-Ddu will leave a lasting memory that will spur nostalgia each time you think about how you were able to conquer the rough terrain surrounding the village. Returning home, you can recount the fun you had participating in this entertaining and satisfying marathon.
If you are a daring athlete, you can skip the marathon by focusing your sights on the ultra marathon. With the terrain in mind, this extra distance is not for beginners.
Starting location: Rhyd-Ddu
Event Available: 15k, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon (32.3 miles)
Price of Participation: £33 to £80
17. ASICS Windermere Marathon
Starting near the north side of Lake Windermere, in a small village called Clappersgate, runners make their way south through the countryside. During the marathon, you’ll dart through serene landscapes and over a bridge or two.
Upon reaching Swan Hotel & Spa, you will cross the bridge directly in front of the hotel’s entrance. As you cross the bridge, runners can soak in the sights of Lake Windermere. You’ll now be entering the second half of the journey heading back by looping around the lake.
With the lake at your side, you can take in the sights and be impressed by the ferry carrying individuals from one side of Lake Windermere to the other. The most interesting part about this marathon is that the entire route is contained within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is impressive.
As you approach Clappersgate, you’ll hear the clapping at the gate of the finish line – was that intentional? We like to think so.
Starting location: Clappersgate
Event Available: Marathon
Price of Participation: £50
18. Whole Earth Man vs. Horse
There are many strenuous and brutal marathons where the organizers and runners take the event entirely too seriously. There are other events where the atmosphere is light-hearted, and you find chances to bond with other runners.
It’s rare to discover an almost-marathon where you can enjoy the event for what it is and put forth your best effort, all while having a good laugh and enjoying the (somewhat) absurdity of its theme.
Man vs. Horse accomplishes this feat by giving runners a 15-minute head start while horseback riders try to outrun the competition. The starting line becomes a mad dash to finish the course before the horses.
One thought may come to mind that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a single runner to beat a horse in full gallop. Organizers of Man vs. Horse thought of this and allow relay teams to enter the competition.
A whole new competitive edge is introduced as relay runners are less likely to slow down since they are required to cover shorter distances.
If you plan to enter this almost-marathon, there is a minimum age requirement for everyone involved, including the horse.
Starting location: Llanwrtyd Wells
Event Available: 22 miles
Price of Participation: £40 to £99
19. Farnham Pilgrim Marathon
Many local businesses see increased customer support on the day of popular events. The crowds draw in to participate, spectate, or help host the activities held on the big day.
The organizers of this marathon, and its shorter half-marathon, have the desire to take that concept a step further. They have arranged to donate all proceeds from the two events, the marathon and half marathon, to local charities and worthy causes.
They also encourage organizations and individuals to contact them to increase awareness of good causes that may benefit from the generosity of patrons. Continuing to spread the word about charities and worthy causes, all while hosting a fantastic marathon, makes the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon a must-experience event.
Not only will your money go to a good cause, but you’ll also run through the green countryside past crumbling ruins, churches, and graveyards. What more could you really ask for?
Starting location: Surrey
Event Available: Half Marathon, Marathon
Price of Participation: £35 to £40
20. Baxters Loch Ness Marathon
Keeping the legend of the Loch Ness Monster alive, the marathon and its merchandise depict the legendary lake (or loch) creature.
Furthermore, the organizers have offered £50,000 to anyone that can spot the beast lurking in the water. It is unclear what proof is needed to verify the claim, but with that kind of money, the offer is enticing.
Whether you believe in the beast’s existence or not, this course is still a great deal of fun as you make your way north along the eastern coast of Loch Ness.
The starting point is difficult to describe, but it lies east of the southernmost point of Loch Ness. Unfortunately, there are no landmarks adjacent to the start line, so we recommend speaking with a marathon organizer or visiting the event website for an exact location.
The course winds northward, eventually ending in Inverness, a sizable town where many tents, food, and other activities await athletes completing the marathon.
One of the fun activities held during Baxters Loch Ness Marathon is the Wee Nessie. This activity is a short race for children ages five and under to let their energy and excitement run free.
Starting location: Loch Ness
Event Available: Wee Nessie (800 meters), 5k, 10k, Marathon
Price of Participation: £5 to £65
21. Mid-Sussex Marathon
The Mid-Sussex Marathon introduces an interesting concept so simple that we’re surprised this has not caught on more. Each day of the three-day event has the same events and follows the same schedule.
Wondering why this is a good thing?
We all have a favorite marathon that we wait the entire year to race in. If we do poorly in the marathon one year, we don’t get a second chance at a redo and have to wait until the next year. But not with this marathon!
Register for the same event on multiple days, or register for different events without missing any during the three-day-long marathon. All of a sudden, you have extra options at your disposal.
And you’re granted the opportunity to have three great finishes or make up for any flounders.
Also, if your friends or family have conflicting schedules, a three-day event gives better chances to have common free time to meet up and enjoy all the activities.
If you only want to attend on one of the days, you still have that option. This multi-day idea clearly solves a lot of scheduling issues, as well as helps you with race day preferences.
Starting location: East Grinstead, Hayward Heath, and Burgess Hill
Event Available: Fun Run, Mid-Sussex Mile, 10 miles, 10k
Price of Participation: £6 to £63 per race