Feeling inspired by the London Marathon? 11 best UK running races to book now

Set yourself a challenge.

Best UK running races: A medal after a 10km
(Image credit: Ally Head)

I'm a Health Editor who fell in love with running at the age of seventeen. I've run eight marathons, including the London and Chicago marathons, and am forever raving about the benefits running can have on both body and mind. That said, finding the motivation can be hard if you don't have an event in the calendar - which is where my edit of the best UK running races comes in.

Not sure how to start running? Reading up on the benefits of running is all well and good, but it's actually actionable running tips for beginners that will get you up and out the door. 

Things like downloading one of the best running apps (Couch to 5km, we're looking at you) and investing in a pair of the best running trainers can help, as can taking things slowly. That said, getting a race in the diary can be a surefire way to keep your motivation levels high and your feet moving forwards.

The following are all UK running races I've run personally and really enjoyed. From the London Landmarks Half Marathon, which loops some of Central London's most iconic landmarks, to the RunThrough 5kms, there's something for every ability in this guide.

Don't miss our guides to strength training for running, how to run for longer, and how to run faster, while you're here. 

Best UK running races: 11 to book now

1. London Landmarks Half Marathon

When? End of March or early April.

Where? Central London.

Why? Looping some of London's most iconic landmarks (hence the name), the London Landmarks route offers some of the best bits of the London Marathon route without the additional 13.1 miles. Plus, the support along the route is unrivalled, too - expect full choirs, rock bands, dancers in traditional fancy dress, and more. 


2. Cancer Research London Winter Run 10km

When? February.

Where? Central London.

Why? Want to challenge yourself to a 10km route in central London complete with dancing polar bears, penguins, and snowflakes for support? Then you'll love the Cancer Research London Winter Run. Launching in 2015, they've raised over four million for Cancer Research UK since then, no doubt changing countless lives. 


3. Manchester Half Marathon

When? October.

Where? Manchester. 

Why? Start your half marathon next to the city's iconic Old Trafford stadium and join over 15,000 other runners as they lace up to take on the distance. If you're after a personal best, it's a great course and the route is fast and flat. 


4. Royal Parks Half Marathon

When? October.

Where? London.

Why? Fun fact for you: the Royal Parks Half Marathon is London’s original half marathon. The route takes you through a grand total of four of eight of London's Royal Parks, which also makes it one of the greenest road races you can run in the UK.


5. Reading Half Marathon

When? April.

Where? Reading.

Why? Easily one of the most fun halves you can run in the UK, the Reading Half ends in the Majeski Stadium, making for a pretty epic finish. One of the oldest UK halves (the first Reading Half was in 1983), you run through the town centre and leafy university campus, too. 


6. ASICS 10km

When? July.

Where? Central London.

Why? Fancy a midsummer challenge in the UK's capital? The ASICS London 10km sees live bands, DJs and cheer squads rooting you on as you run past Westminster Bridge, The London Eye, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Big Ben. It's a real celebration of running - book while spaces last.


7. RunThrough Battersea Park 5km

When? Throughout the year.

Where? Battersea, but also throughout the UK.

Why? RunThrough hosts a whole range of events all over the UK, but my favourite race of theirs is the Battersea Park 5km. It's fast, flat, and scenic, and RunThrough are known not only for their epic themed medals, but for their finish line flapjacks, too. They always have a great number of volunteers on hand to help you on your run, too. 


9. Brighton Half

When? February.

Where? Brighton.

Why? Another of the older UK halves is the Brighton Marathon, which will have been running for thirty-four years next year. The scenic 13.1 mile route takes you along the seafront, plus you get to celebrate your achievement with fish and chips on the beach. What's not to love? 


10. Hackney Half Marathon

When? May.

Where? East London.

Why? There's a reason there are so many London running events in this round up - the capital really is great at holding high energy races. If you're local to East London, this one's for you, with the 13.1 route passing past Hackney Town Hall, the historic Broadway Market, and the street art of Hackney Wick.


11. London Marathon

When? April.

Where? Central London.

Why? The TSC London Marathon is the largest annual fundraising event on the planet, fundraising over one billion pounds since it launched in 1981. Not to mention it's epic. Case in point: nearly 47,000 thousand runners ran the London Marathon this year and there were cheer squads, bands, and supporters for the entire 26.2 miles. Enter the ballot now for a chance to run next April - it'll be the best day of your life. Trust me on this one.


How do I choose a running race?

Good question - and that'll depend on your fitness level, end goal, and schedule. 

For example, if you're starting from scratch or as a beginner, a 5km is the best distance to go for. It's the shortest amount of mileage, plus you should feasibly be able to run 5km within four weeks with a dedicated training plan (here at MC UK, we're fans of the NHS' Couch to 5km).

It'll also depend on how busy you are - you may have hopes of smashing a 10km, but you'll only be able to do so if you have time to train. Do note - if you're going to tackle a marathon, you'll need sixteen to twenty weeks to train. 

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.