UK Road Races

Wherever you are in the UK, there are sure to be many long-distance road races available to you.

The more high-profile events, such as city marathons, tend to have thousands of competitors of all abilities participating and raising money for charity.

Furthermore, they tend to have a great atmosphere with everyone generally wanting to have a fun day out with friends while giving themselves a good run out, so it is unlikely that beginners will find themselves overwhelmed by a majority of elite runners creating a tense atmosphere.

Of course, any runner should ensure that they have sufficient training under their belts before entering any competition, and should be confident that they can complete a half-marathon, marathon or otherwise without causing themselves any harm.

Race for Life (Women Only)

  • Location - All around the country
  • What they are - Organised by Cancer Research UK, Race for Life is a series of women-only events held all around the UK. There are 5km, 10km,half marathon and marathon distances available to take part in. These events are very relaxed with an emphasis on jogging, running or walking to raise money for cancer research. All abilities are catered for, and all events are well organised with a very good atmosphere.
  • Recommended for - Any female runners who wish to fundraise for a very good cause.

Chariots of Fire Relay

  • Location - Cambridge
  • What is it - The Chariots of Fire Relay is a charity event held in Cambridge in early September. Taking place on a course just under 2 miles long that runs through the city centre, teams of 6 runners (which can be same sex or mixed) compete for a variety of prizes including one for most entertaining team, so it is often a fun day out! Being a charity event, there is a £135 entry fee for each team, but this works out to very affordable £22.50 per person, and a free T-Shirt is given out to competitors on the day.
  • Recommended for - Groups of friends or team-mates who want some friendly competition or a fun day out.

Ronhill Surrey Classic Series

  • Location - Oxshott; Nonsuch Park; Horton Country Park - all Surrey
  • What are they - Three mixed-ability races comprise the Ronhill Surrey Classic Series. The races take place on roads and well-kept paths in Oxshott, Nonsuch Park and Horton Country Park between October and December, and the entry fee is £25 (£27 if not affiliated to an athletics club) for all three races. Or alternatively enter each race individually for £10 (£12 if unaffiliated). Those who complete all three races are awarded a good-quality technical T-Shirt, and refreshments, parking and changing facilities are provided at each venue. All three races feature their fair share of elite athletes and rookies, and a good atmosphere is always expected.
  • Recommended for - Runners of all abilities.

Bedford Half-Marathon

  • Location - Wootton Upper School, Bedfordshire
  • What is it - Held by Bedford Harriers AC, this is a 10k run taking place in rural Bedfordshire. Last year featuring over 1000 participants, runners of all abilities take part in the Bedford Half-Marathon, and there are cash prizes for the first-placed male and female runners, with trophies for the first five men and women as well as the first placed runner in each age group. Course maps, toilet, hot and cold drinks and snacks, and changing facilities are all available at Wootton Upper School, which serves as the Race Headquarters.
  • Recommended for - Runners of all abilities.

Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run

  • Location - Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey
  • What is it - Organised by Human Race, the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run starts and finishes at the historic Market place in Kingston upon Thames and offers an 8.2-mile, 16.2-mile or 20.1-mile course. The run involves passing many beautiful sights along the River Thames as well as Hampton Court Palace, and is attended by several hundred athletes. It also takes place at 8am, so it is a good opportunity to have some good early-morning exercise and then go off to spend a few hours shopping in Kingston town centre!
  • Recommended for - Runners who want a trial run before the London Marathon.

Great North Run

  • Location - Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • What is it - The Great North Run is famous for being the largest half-marathon in the world. Run from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to South Shields in North-East England, the event attracts thousands of participants every year, and is undoubtedly one of the biggest running events in the world. Runners of all abilities compete every year, from Olympic runners to complete rookies, so it is a suitable race for anyone who has done the necessary training preparations. Many also take the opportunity to raise money for charity by taking part, so it can also serve as an excellent opportunity to fundraise for a good cause. Search Great Run to find other races in the Great Run series, these range from 5km to marathon distances in locations such as Manchester, Edinburgh and Portsmouth.
  • Recommended for - Runners of all abilities who want to be a part of one of the biggest and most famous races in the world.

Abingdon Marathon

  • Location - Tisley Park, Oxfordshire
  • What is it - First held in 1982, the Abingdon Marathon is a very popular race that usually takes place in October with a cap of 1,100 athletes easily being filled 6 months before the event. Water stations are frequent and free hot and cold drinks are provided at the end of the race. All competitors will receive a medal and a goody bag, as well as a T-Shirt for the course's successful completion. The Abingdon Marathon also incorporates a number of championship events, such as the Oxfordshire, Middlesex, and Berkshire County Marathon Championships, so it is a very competitive race and would perhaps be more daunting for those with little race experience.
  • Recommended for - Runners who have competed in marathons before and want a competitive race.

City Marathons

  • Location - Cities around the country
  • What are they - The most famous event being the London Marathon, these 26.2-mile runs have a fun atmosphere and a mixture of abilities, with Olympic runners often competing on one hand and someone walking dressed as a chicken on the other. These are therefore suitable for athletes of any standard - though they should be confident that they can complete 26.2 miles without injury, and should have spent several months preparing for them. Medals, goody bags and T-Shirts are the rewards for the hard work.
  • Recommended for - Long-distance runners who want to fundraise for charity, or who want to record an official marathon time.