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Hiking & Trail Running

Trail Running Races Near London | 5 of the Best

Where to go trail running in and around the capital.

London and trail running might not seem like an obvious match, however fans of heading off-road are surprisingly well catered for both in London and in the surrounding counties. In fact, some of the best trail running events in the UK are around London – the Surrey Hills, Kent and East Sussex all offer a range of trail running routes and races just a short train or car ride from central London.

Whether you are looking for thigh-burning climbs, undulating coastal routes or flat, river paths, they are all there in abundance – you just need to know where to look. To give you a steer in the right direction we have rounded up five of our favourite trail running races, located within easy access of Central London. While there are a couple in there for experienced athletes, we have also made sure to include a few that are better for beginner trail runners too.

1) Beachy Head Marathon

Trail Running Races on the edge! The cliffs at Beachy Head, Sussex. Photo: iStock

Where: Eastbourne, East Sussex
When: October
Distance: 26.2 miles / 6 miles

This marathon distance trail run is anything but a walk in the park thanks to the 1,066m metres of ascent, 300 steps and 14 gates that competitors must negotiate. The course will wind its way across the South Downs Way with three main climbs, but with that effort comes reward – you will be treated to panoramic views of the iconic Seven Sisters. Those who feel that a full marathon distance race is a little too much to take on can opt to tackle the 10km route which runs alongside the main event. The race will start and finish in Eastbourne which is just over an hour on the train from London.

Further info: visiteastbourne.com

2) Maverick Original Surrey Trail Run

The Surrey countryside is a short train ride from London. Photo: iStock

Where: Polesden Lacey, Surrey
When: May
Distance: 15.5 miles/ 10 miles/ 5 miles

The Surrey Hills are an incredible resource for London-based trail running junkies. Located just a short train ride from central London, you will be treated to lung-busting climbs and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The Maverick Original Surrey Trail Run is a great way to explore the area if you are not familiar with it. Describing the course as ‘brutiful’, the event organisers have designed a course with plenty of ups and downs to ensure you really feel it in your legs the next day! Kicking off from the historic grounds of the Polesdan Lacey house, competitors can opt to take on one of three distances on offer making this races a great choice for both total newbies and hardcore trail runners.

Further info: maverick-race.com

3) Richmond Park Marathon

Richmond Park – A great spot for Trail Running on your doorstep. Photo: iStock

Where: Richmond, London
When: May
Distance: 26.2 miles

There are few trail running enthusiasts who will not have explored the web of trails that Richmond Park has to offer. Despite its close proximity to London, you can keep coming back here, each time discovering a new piece of trail. The Richmond Park marathon celebrates the park’s popularity with trail runners by organising an annual race that sees a field of 300 competitors take on the sharp climbs, muddy trails and river crossings as they take on three laps of the parks perimeter (the first lap of which will also include a cut through of the entire park), and a final, slightly shorter lap of the park. This event is always a sell-out so early registration is a must.

Further info: richmondparkmarathon.co.uk

4) Henley Trail Run

Best known for its Rowing Regatta, Henley also plays host to Trail Running races. Photo: iStock

Where: Henley-on-Thames
When: May
Distance: 13.2 miles/ 6 miles

The Henley Trail Run is the perfect choice for those dipping their toe into the world of off-road running for the first time thanks to the absence of technical terrain and steep ascents and descents. Located just a short journey from London, competitors will be treated to great views of the Thames and the surrounding area.

Further info: f3events.co.uk

5) High Weald Challenge

Experience the best of East Sussex at the High Weald Challenge. Photo: iStock

Where: Groombridge, East Sussex
When: September
Distance: 31 miles/ 13.2 miles

The High Weald Challenge follows the High Weald Landscapre Trail, the Vanguard Way and Wealdway, with both distances starting and finishing in the east Sussex village of Groombridge. Both routes will take runners through some of the prettiest Sussex countryside on offer, with a brief detour into neighbouring Kent. Competitors can expect undulating hills, across a variety of landscapes including open fields and forestry. Those who opt to take on the 31-miler will have the added bonus of running across the Pooh Sticks Bridge made famous by the one and only Winnie the Pooh.

Further info: trailrunningsussex.co.uk

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