UK Ultras 2013

THIS IS FOR 2013. AN UPDATED LIST OF UK ULTRA MARATHONS FOR 2014 IS HERE

 

OK I am doing something a bit different this year. There are now too many ultras in the UK for me to list them all. The fantastic Ultramarathonrunning.com has every ultra listed there and pretty much any in the world. Instead I'll list the ones I am familiar with alongside blogs and race reports from people who have done them so if you are trying to decide on a race that is right for you this information might help.

If you think I have missed any out or have a race report you'd like me to add them please let me know and I'll try to stick it on here. Also if I have missed a big race or you are organising one and would like me to add it here then feel free to contact me and I'll arrange it.

 

I'd also like to thank everyone out there who is in any way involved in putting on races. There is now a huge selection of stuff to do every weekend and the professionalism and dedication by others to put on safe and interesting events is truly amazing and I feel privileged to be part of the UK ultra running scene. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

If I can give a quick plug to my three favourite race organisers in the UK...

I am an ambassador for Endurance Life. I think they put on incredible events on the beautiful coastline of Great Britain. Every month by the sea you'll see an amazing event somewhere on the coast and the format is great, there is a 10k, a half marathon, a marathon and then an ultra marathon (approx 33 miles usually). This means that you can go with a group of runners and there is something for everyone. I did one recently with my Dad and Step-mum. The courses are very well marked, usually very tough but beautiful. If you are thinking of "stepping up" to a hard trail marathon or ultra then this is the place to do it. Loads of choice and if you fancy something extreme then there is a 100 mile race too. If you are handy on a bike or in a boat then there is lots of multi sport too.

Centurion Running have spent the last two years becoming the British standard for 100 mile races. James Elson runs an incredible show with is 4 100 mile events in the UK. They usually sell out quickly, they get many international and top quality runners and they always get glowing feedback at the end. Obviously these are 100 mile races and so are not beginners races but if you are looking to step up to 100 or are a veteran of 100 milers and want to experience a well organised big event atmosphere that was previously only available in the USA then this is the place to go.

XNRG have created a fantastic portfolio of events on great trails around the UK. These events are multi-day, meaning running ultras for 2/3 days in a row. If you are training for something like the Marathon Des Sables or fancy seeing what you can do in a multi day then this is the place. Very beginner friendly but also accomodating of the super quick. The post run atmosphere is great, you get to know others really well.

Right then, lets get to it.

Oh one final thing. Paul Ali does a fantastic job of collating ultra running tales into this free online magazine. He is always on the lookout for race reports and other ultra related writing and so if you want to contribute then get in contact with him. The facebook page is here with details of how to download the first three issues.

ULTRA TALES

 

January

Why not bring in the new year with an ultra. Go on you know you want to. Someone had to do it and here it is the Hardmoors 30 on the 1st Jan.

12th the Country to Capital from Go Beyond takes in 20 odd miles of lovely trail then 20 odd miles of lovely canal. 45 miles from Wendover to Little Venice, usually helps to remind you all of how fat we got over Christmas.The trick here is to run as fast as you can for the first 200 meters and then try to hang on for the remaining 45 miles. I have done this for the last three years and love it. I'll be there again. Here is my report from last year. Here is one from James Elson.

Endurance Life have organised great coastal marathons and Ultras in the past and now are adding an Ultra option to all of their CTS series, the first this year being in Anglessey on the 19th. I did this last year and the scenery is spectacular but the weather can be harsh. Be sure to sign up for the fantastic Livemore Lectures afterwards. I did this last year, here is my report. Reports - Jen Bradley. Andy Bruce.

A classic from the LDWA, the Winter Tanners on Sunday 20th. Sunday 20th also has the Gloucester 50k, flat and fast and with a top field.

Into it's second year now is The Spine - a 268 mile non-stop race across the Pennine way. That path is hard enough to do in the summer in 7 days let alone in winter with little daylight and snow. Last years winner finished in 151 hours.

Confirmed already for the 26th the Frostbite 50 came onto the scene last year and was fantastic. I ran it and it was really hard work. Part coastal trail and part moorland it was possibly the toughest 50 miler I have done. Great organisation and Whitby is home to the best fish and chips in the UK. Reports - James Adams.

Country to Capital, the left turn. To be seen also in the GUCR

 

February


2nd Feb Go Beyond take to the river this time and run from Oxford to Henley along the Thames in the Thames Trot. Reports - James Adams. Paul Ali.

New ultra running outfit Cotswold Running already have a reputation for organising great events and start their year with the Donnington way 105k on 2nd Feb . I am not sure whether this is a "fast" course but I know a few people who are trying to qualify for the Spartathlon.

Same weekend A great 2-day event which I did last year from XNRG along the North Downs. The Pilgrims Challenge is 33 miles each day along a beautiful course allowing many to train for the Marathon Des Sables in true British style, by wading around in the mud for hours. It is quite hilly. Checkpoints are well stocked and there is an accomodation option too. Reports James Adams. Sam Robson. Andy Bruce.

Saturday the 9th more spectacular running from Endurance Life in South Devon with a 34 miler. As always with their events there is a marathon, half marathon and a 10k. Don't complain if they end up being a bit longer though. 

Sunday 17th it's the London Ultra from Rory, a 50k path along the Capital Ring from Streatham to Wembley. No complicated ballot to get in.

On the 23rd Feb it's the 40 mile Born to Run ultra along the Gower Peninsula.

Pilgrims Challenge, great MDS training

 

March

Endurance Life kick off the month with the Northumberland Coastal Trail Ultra on 2nd March Approx 33 miles. This is given a difficulty grade of 2 and so probably not as hard as most of the Endurance Life events. Another new event company Saxon Shore Events have sprung up with three 50/100 mile events in the South East. Perfect if you are one of those people who live on the wrong side of London. First up (and would be a perfect birthday race for me if I were not in New Zealand) is the White Cliffs Endurance Run 100 and 50 miles 2nd March. Takes in lots of Kentish coastline and historic towns such as Canterbury and Dover.

Also the Green Man Ultra 2nd March 46 miles from ultrarunning, 45 miles in some forests near Bristol and if you finish you can call yourself a "woodwose" which I believe is a mythical man or woman who haunts forests.

March 10th Black Mountains Race 23rd March 33 miles in wales from Might Contain Nuts.

The Exmoor Ultra 16th March 40 miles from Adventure Hub. That part of the coast is really beautiful. But bloomin difficult. Also on the 16th the "turn up and run" D33 ultra in Aberdeen. The idea is to finish quick enough to be able to spend a long time in the pub.

Not strictly an ultra but hard enough to be mentioned is the Jurassic Coast Challenge 22-24th MArch, 3 marathons in 3 days along the beautiful (but brutal) Jurassic coast. Reports James Elson. Oli Sinclair. James Edgar. Ian Sharman.   If you'd prefer to do it all in one go, wait a few weeks.

Endurance Life will have the Sussex CTS on the 23rd March. I did this last year and it was beautiful. Reports Kris Duffy. Kelly Lucas. The Hardmoors 55 is also taking place this weekend using the Cleveland Way and the stunningly bleak Yorkshire Moors.

Second running of the  Thames Path 100 from Centurion Running from Richmond to Oxford on the 23rd. This was a great event last year made challenging by the weather. Fairly flat and no navigation required (apart from near Dorney Lake). Ideal first 100. Reports James Adams. Paul Ali. Jen Bradley. Sam Robson.

The second running of the  Viking Way Ultra is over the Easter weekend on the 30/31st March.  147 miles of minimal support with a 40 hour cut-off. Last Year only 7 out of 28 finishers completed this. There are still places, I suspect people are too scared to take them. Reports - Mimi Anderson. Neil Bryant. Charlie Sharpe. If instead you fancy a quick 100k (or 50k) there is the Sri Chimoy 100k in Perth. A great way to qualify for the Spartathlon.

 

April

A canal option on the 6th April (you can never have too many) is the Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra on the 31st, 55 miles along a canal with a great view of the Falkirk Wheel. Reports James Adams. Ian Sharman. Also that weekend from ultrarunning is the  Pendine Ultra 7th April 33 miles.

On the 6-7th April XNRG add another event to their calendar in the ever more popular Cotswold Way. Cotswold Way 6-7th April 57 miles in two days.

On Saturday 13th April Centurion Running put on the South Downs Way 50. Now seperating the 50s from the 100s as they are too popular it give a great chance to run 50 miles on that path before tackling the 100. One of my favourite marathons in the UK now has an ultra version. Exmoor 14th April of ball-aching climbing and spectacular downhills from Endurance Life. The Compton Full Fat 40 is usually around Easter time so look out for that.

Obviously on the 20th you will probably be watching "The Marathon". But just in case you didn't get a place you can always put yourself up against one of the toughest UK events, the ONER 20th April. From the guys at VOTWO starting at 6pm on the 20th you will run the same course as the Jurassic Coast Challenge except that you won't stop. I did the last one and can confirm that it is both really enjoyable and also incredibly hard. Reports - James Adams

Another one from Cotswolf running is the Evesham ultra on the 21st April 45 miles.

 

Saturday 2nd I have unfinished business in the Highland Fling. I DNF'ed this 53 miler along the West Highland Way from Millagavie (pronounced Mill-guy) to Tyndrum (pronounced Tin-Drum). Hilly, rocky and 300+ finishers last time, well worth doing. Same day is the incredibly tough Fellsman. 60 miles, 11000ft climbing on rugged terrain in the Yorkshire Dales. Reports Jez Bragg. Neil Bryant. 

Endurance Life Exmoor

May

 

A new one last year and really really great weekend was the Pony Express 4-5th May two day Ultra from XNRG. 30 miles each day in the New Forest (it's actually pretty old). Perfect if you are new to that kind of thing, beautiful forests and not too many hills. All the great atmosphere you'd expect from an XNRG event. Reports James Adams. Kris Duffy. Kelly Lucas.  Also is the fantastic Malvern Hills ultra 4th May 51 miles. Lots of running on the Severn Path and then some amazing hills that you can see formiles. Race reports: James Adams.

Endurance Life have their penultimate Coastal Trail series race at the North Yorkshire Moors on the 4th May.

 

Might Contain Nuts now run a summer version of the Breacon Ultra 40 on the 11th. The popular and long running (51 years now) Ridgeway 40 is on the 11th too. Book early to avoid disappoinment.

Norman Conquest Endurance Run 100 and 50 miles 18th May - Retrace the steps of when king Harold marched all the way down from Jorvik (having defeated some pesky Vikings) and then getting defeated in Battle (in Battle) by the Normans. I recommend taking an audiobook and taking all the fantastic history.

Also on the 18th May Centurion Running have the North Downs Way 50. This path is stunning and quite hard. The Cardiff Ultra 50 on the 19th attracted 150 last year and will probably get bigger this year. Not too much navigation on the Taff Trail and the race is "net" downhill. Should be easy then.

Not many 100k races in the UK for some reason but here is one from Adventure Hub. On Angelsey from Adventure Hub is the Welsh Ultra 15th June 100k is probably not a great one to go for a fast 100k time but no doubt will be an amazing race. Go Beyond put on their Shires and Spires 35 mile ultra in Northampton on the 27th too.

The Endurance Life Running Festival in Flete 26th May takes place.. It promises to be awesome, with seminars on how to make fire and find food in the wild as well as some great talks by some inspiring people in the Live More Lectures. Oh and on the Sunday there is a nice ultra too, if you like that kind of thing. I was there last year and it was a really great weekend. 

But obviously the main event in May is the best race in the UK, The Grand Union Canal Run from Birmingham to London on the 25th, 145 miles of canal loveliness.Some silly buggers are planning on running to Birmingham from London before the start. Race Reports - James Adams 2008, James Adams 2009, Debbie Martin Consani, Rajeev Patel, Paul Ali,

On the same weekend the ever more popular Hardmoors 110 looks quite a challenge too. Also you could see how far you can go in 24 hours in the Kent 24 hour challenge, starting Saturday 25th.

June

 

Very very busy weekend this one including a new event. Promising to take experienced ultra-runners to their own personal levels of darkness the Severn Challenge May 30 - 3 June runs 214 miles of the Severn Path in 5 days. You can do all 5 days or just some of the individual days. Looks like it will be a massive event. On the same weekend one of my favourite races the Dartmoor Discovery 32. I know it's "only" 32 miles but it is way harder than it sounds. The Shires and Spires 2nd June is on the same weekend too. I did this last year and loved it. Reports James Adams, Sam Robson,

 

South Downs Way 1-2 June 106 miles in two days from VOTWO, two hard back to back 50 milers. Another great race for the this busy weekend is the Isle of Wight two day ultra from XNRG, possibly their toughest event covering 69 miles on the two days.

Starting on the 21st possibly the hardest 100 miler yet to be staged in the UK the Ultra-Trail de South West (UTSW) follows 100 miles of scenic but harsh coastal path in Cornwall. The elevation is 5466m, not as big as some but this involved constant up and down. Expect this to hurt. I tried this last year and failed. The Classic Quarter Ultra returns on the 21st too, 44 miles of really brutal coastline from Lizard Point to Lands End. The 20 mile cut of is a massive 6 hours, you know you are in for a tough time.

Another "Must Do" for all UK ultrarunners is the West Highland Way race on the 22nd. 95 miles and 4500m of elevation. This is held in very high regard by all those who have done it and is considered one of the hardest in Britain.

On the 15th June there is one of the most popular 100 milers in the UK now. The Petzl South Downs Way 100. Into it's third year now and now being organised by Centurion Running. Expect a big race here.

On the 28th there is another new ultra from another new outfit. An ambitious attempt to get people to go to Sunderland the Northern Cities Ultramarathons have 100/60 and 40 mile options in the cities of the North East. All offroad, looks really nice. On Friday 28th the ULTRArace100 starts in Stratford and follows the roads of the Cotswolds. Challenge is to get it done in 24 hours.

I would love to be taking part in The Joust 24 hour race, a 5.8 mile loop around Holt Castle (very nice area). Pretty much the most sunlight you can get in a race.

10 peaks in the lakes

July

 

 

 

The Lakeland 100 starts on Friday 26th at 6, you have until noon on Sunday to complete. Modelling itself on the UTMB the "Ultra Tour of the Lake District (UTLD)" swells in numbers every year and can lay a claim to being the toughest race here, 6300m of ascent is not far off it's Alpine equvalent. Reports Paul Nesbitt. But if you want something short then go for the Round the Rock ultra on Jersey. 48 miles around the island, About 1000m of ascent and scenery looks amazing.

13th 40 miles of trails and nature reserves in the Clyde Stride. Also another new 100k is the Race to the Stones. Options are running, jogging, walking or stomping.

This is epic and I tried and failed last year. The Satmap 10 peaks on the 29th in the lake district covers 45 miles and 5600m of climbing and with a 24 hour cut off it promises to be very difficult. Reports James Adams.

Mainly aimed at teams but if you have no friends (likely if you are in to this kind of thing) you can try the 24 hour Thunder Run on the 27/28th too.

August

The Grim reaper Ultra from Fat-feet. Choice of 105, 70 or 40 miles around a 10 mile loop around Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire in on the 2nd Aug. There is also a half marathon if you like that sort of thing. Or you could complete the 43 miles northern part of the West Highland Way in the Devil O The Highlands

Saturday 10th the North Downs Way 100 is into its third year now and continues to grow as an event. Expect Centurions brand of big time atmosphere that you only usually get in the states here. Hope the weather isgood.  On the same weekend

Starting on the 11th of August you could participate in the first 6day track race held in the UK for 20 years. The British Ultra Fest has options of 24 hours, 48 hours and 6 day races. All around a track. I don't know why I am tempted but I am.

In it's second year now and fantastically successful last time  over three days is the Ring Of Fire Ultra, 131 miles in 3 days. That would be very hard. Take a look at the photos on the website, they look amazing.

Ever fancied the Plague? Nah me neither but this looks like a very interesting race and I might have to do it. The Plague 100k (32 mile option too) in Cornwall from Mud Crew Events.

Thames Gateway Endurance Run 100 and 60 miles - 23rd Aug. Mixing in parts of the Saxon shore, the Thames Esturary and the North Downs way.

24-25th the Ridgeway 85 miler. The Ridgeway path is one of the oldest trails in the UK and was one of the many things the Romans did for us. On a good day it's beautiful and the hills (though not quite Alpine) can be very challenging. If you want an "easier" version of this then wait till November when you can run it in 3 days.

Another one in the SUMS on the 27th Speyside Way Race, 35.5m. On the 31st from Avid Runner the Ultra Tyne tour allows you to run two ultras in two days of 35/40 miles.

 

 

September

1st September the Bullock Smithy LDWA organised event in the Peak District. Quite hard I heard, 56 miles of hilly lovliness. On the 7th the organisers of the fantastic 10 peaks in the Lakes repeat the format in the Brecons. I am very tempted by this.

September seems to be stage race month, Go Beyond are now in the third year of their successful Trans Britain Ultra. 6 days and 156 miles of beautiful landscape (that will mean lots of hills). Starts on the 7th.

180 miles along the river Thames in 4 days? About time someone organised a race across the whole of this great river. The Thames Challenge from Ultrarunning takes in these 180 miles from thursday 5-8th Sept. You can do each stage as a seperate race if you'd like too.

On the 14th September a friend of mine makes his race director debut in a beautiful looking 100k in East Anglia. The Stour Valley 100k is all on trail, pretty flat and perfect for qualifying for the Spartathlon (if you like that kind of thing). I hope to be there to support.

Cotswold Way Century 100 miles on the 21st September is another race on that beautiful trail from cotswold running.

A bit flatter than that XNRG bring us the Toad Challenge which involves running the 90 or so miles of the Thames Path from Oxford to Walton on Thames. I've heard great things about this one. Winning second prize in a beauty contest this weekend the Tooting Bec Track 24 hour race is on here too. I am tempted one day to run around a track for 24 hours.

The Hardmoors 60 completes the 4 races in the Yorkshire Moors series on the 21st.

Oh, and probably a race organised by me this weekend. The second evil race idea I had.

October

VOTWO give us the Atlantic Coastal Challenge 4-6 Oct 3 marathons in 3 days, similar to the Jurassic Coastal Challenge (though much less hilly but much rockier). Finishes in Land's End and a hot Cornish Pasty. Reports James Adams.

5th October there is the third running of the Round Rippon Ultra 35 from Go Beyond, Ideal for first timers. Same weekend Might Contain Nuts have the Wye on the Way 50 5th October.

This could be the biggest ultra in the UK if it gets the 700 entries it can cater for. The Royal Parks Ultra is a 50k around the parks of London. There is a fund raising requirement but if you are looking for a first ultra and want to do so in a more supported environment then this would be a great one to do. It went really well in it's first year.

Atlantic Coast Challenge

12th there is a flat 100k in Norfolk, for those inspired to qualify for the Spartathlon :) the Norfolk Ultra 12th October from Adventure Hub. Reports Sam Robson.

This is an epic in the UK ultra running calendar, I am not sure whether anyone took on the whole lot last year but The RELENTLESS is a 30 stage 1600 mile run through every county in the UK. Even Leicestershire. Each stage can be run seperately or you can sign up for a weeks worth of running. Looks awesome, looks insanely hard, 50 miles a day off-road. Could you all please start lobbying Gemma that this is a good idea :)

On the 19th the Caesars Camp series. 30/50 or 100 miles of getting mocked by Henk. On the 19th the Round Rotherham 50. This used to be in December in the wettest/darkest most horrible day of the year but a mass bailout by some London softies forced them to move it practically into summer. MOVE IT BACK. Reports James Adams.

November

The Pembrokeshire Coast Challenge 18-20th Oct hosts another really tought triple marathon challenge from VOTWO on the 2-4th. Earlier than usual. Already in the diary on the 9-11th the Druids Challenge from XNRG takes the Ridgeways 85 miles in 3 days. Like all XNRG events it is really well run and low cost, look out for the weather though.

 

On the 18th enjoy the wonderful but bleak and tough Breacons for the third running of the Breacon Beacons ultra.

Look out for the Hereward Ultra 38 miles on the last weekend of the month. There is a relay with lots of teams so you won't feel lonely though you may feel a bit slow :)

Centurion Running fill in a void of big races at the end of the year with the Winter 100. Taking in trails around the Ridgeway and the Thames.

Hoping to make a return again next year is the now infamous Piece of String race. Don't bother entering this, you wont finish. Reports Sam Robson, Mimi Anderson, James Adams, Andy Bruce.

December

One race for December so far, Ultra Breacon 40 (winter) 7th Dec from might contain nuts.