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Hiking & Trail Running

Trail Running Events in the UK | 5 of the Best

How to pick a trail running event to suit your ability level

There are no shortage of trail running races across the UK – from 10km beginner-friendly races to epic 100km races across some of the toughest terrain the country has to offer, you name it, we have it. The only problem is that choosing which trail running event to do can be somewhat of a minefield. To give you a steer in the right direction, we have compiled a list of five trail running races in the UK that you definitely won’t forget in a hurry.

1) Original Mountain Marathon (OMM)

The OMM usually involves running through mountains and is one of the most challenging trail running events in the UK. Photo: iStock

Where: SW Scotland for 2016, but the location changes each year
When: 29-30 October 2016
Distance: 20-80km

It’s hard to write a list of iconic British races without including OMM. It is one of the oldest trail running races on the calendar and is truly unique. Held in some of the most unique locations in Britain, at a time of year when the weather Gods can throw just about anything at you, this is no walk on the park. However, the effort will be worth it as you are treated to a true adventure.

Teams of two, spend two days testing not only their endurance but their navigation skills too as they attempt to find a series of checkpoints spread across some of the most remote parts of the UK. The end of day one will see competitors set up camp in the middle of nowhere to get some much needed rest before round two.

Teams have to be totally self-sufficient as they must carry everything they need from food to camping equipment. Competitors can choose from 20-80km route options so while you do need navigation skills, this event is open to those who don’t fancy a really long event.

Further info: theomm.com

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Race takes you trail running through the rugged North Yorkshire landscape. Photo: iStock

2) Yorkshire Three Peaks Race

Where: Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire
When: April
Distance: 23.3 Miles

With more than 1,608m of ascent, this is a race reserved for trail runners who are not afraid of the odd mountain! As its name suggests, it takes in three peaks over the 23.3 miles – Pen-y-Ghent (689), Whernside (723m) and Ingleborough (722m). Despite the arduous climbs, this race has become one of the most popular amongst trail running enthusiasts on the British trail running calendar. 

The course is self-navigated with the exception of some marking on the mountains and at access points.

Further info: threepeaksrace.org.uk

The Coastal Trail Series ventures across the spectacular Gower Peninsula in Wales. Photo: iStock

3) Coastal Trail Series Gower

Where: Rhossili Village, Gower Peninsula, Wales
When: November
Distance: 6.8miles/ 14.4 miles/ 26.8 miles/ 34 miles

The Coastal Trail Series hosts races in really scenic locations across the south of the UK. Gower, however is arguably the most scenic of the lot. Set against a backdrop of cliff tops, woodland, sand dunes and world famous beaches this event is perfect for groups of friends of ranging fitness abilities wanting to do the same event, thanks to the four distance options on offer. However, don’t be lured in too much by the distances, each course has its fair share of climbing – but fear not the views will almost certainly keep your mind off the task in hand.

Further info: endurancelife.com

The self navigated Isle of Jura Fell Race takes you trail running across most of the Island. Photo: iStock

4) The Isle of Jura Fell Race

Where: The Isle of Jura, Scotland
When: May
Distance: 17.3 miles

Located in the southern Hebrides, the Isle of Jura has a population of just over 200 thanks to its relatively inhabitable land. Covered in blanket bog and mountains, it certainly isn’t an ideal place to live, but it does lend itself well to one of the UK’s most iconic trail running races.  The self-navigated course covers a good chunk of the island, taking in a total of seven mountain summits and 2,370 metres of climbing in the process – suffice to say that this event is no walk in the park. However, your efforts will be rewarded with unrivalled views of the island’s unique landscape and some local whiskey from the Campbell distillery to ease the muscle pain post-race.

Further info: jurafellrace.org.uk

Helvellyn, The third highest peak in England, provides some excellent trail running opportunities. Photo: iStock

5) Helvellyn Trail Race Challenge

Where: Cumbria UK
When: November
Distance: 6.8 miles/ 9.3 miles

This event is great for those who are relatively new to trail running. Starting on the shores of Ullswater in Glenridding, both course options follow marshalled footpaths and bridleways onto the foothills of Helvellyn, the third highest peak in England. Conditions underfoot are usually pretty good depending on weather conditions, but there are the odd sections of more technical trail to negotiate.

Those eager to make a weekend of it will be especially suited to this race as there’s live music, food and drink available at the finish line.

Further info: lakelandtrails.org

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