The London Marathon is one of the best running events in the UK, but as spectacular as it is, it’s certainly not the only UK marathon worth doing. There are great marathons to be found across the country, which is good news, given how hard it can be to get a spot in the London event—unless you’re especially lucky, especially good at fundraising or especially quick.
All you need to do is pick a race far enough in the future to accommodate a marathon training plan, clear your schedule and get running. OK, there’s more to it than that. You’ll want to sign up for a half marathon as part of your training, for one, and invest in a new pair of marathon running shoes.
If you’re looking at taking part in one of the bigger events in 2024, now is the time to start planning your entry because the most popular UK marathons will sell out many months in advance of race day.
The Best UK Marathons
Next event: April 7, 2024
Always one of the most popular spring marathons, the Brighton Marathon is already close to selling out for 2024 so it’s worth entering soon if you plan on doing it. The race changed its route in 2023 and the first 5K is now in town before you head down to run along the coast. It’s scenic and mostly flat, but you’re at the mercy of the weather once you hit the coastal part of the route, so fingers crossed for a still day.
Sign up | £69.99
Next event: April 14, 2024
The Manchester Marathon is known for being speedy—it’s one of the flattest marathon routes in the world—and ideal for chalking up a PR. Entries for the 2024 race are 90% sold out, but you can register interest in obtaining one of the remaining 10% of spots and you’ll get an email on January 8 telling you when the places will go on sale. The route is always well-lined with supporters and you get the added bonus of running your marathon a week before all your London-running friends, so you can relax and dish out advice while they hit maximum maranoia levels.
Register interest | £65
Next event: April 21, 2024
The London Marathon 2024 will, as ever, be the stand-out event on the UK’s running calendar. The route is fast and mostly flat, and the support you get from the sidelines is unreal. The ballot has been and gone, and Good For Age entry has closed, so a London Marathon charity place is your only option if you’re keen to run in 2024.
MK Marathon Weekend
Next event: May 6, 2024
The MK Marathon Weekend also contains a 5K, 10K and a half marathon. The marathon itself is held on Bank Holiday Monday and the mostly flat course is made up of two laps of Milton Keynes, starting and finishing at the Stadium: MK.
Sign up | £54-£58
Next event: May 18, 2024
This event in the Lake District is a strong contender for the UK’s most scenic marathon, with runners completing an anti-clockwise loop of Lake Windermere. There are a few bumps along the way, with around 500m of climbing, so it’s not going to be the fastest course for PR-seekers, but you can still run a quick time while enjoying the views.
Sign up | £60
Next event: May 26, 2024
The Edinburgh Marathon Festival week includes races from 5K to the full 42.2km, plus some shorter junior events as well, so it’s great for the whole family to attend. The route of the marathon itself starts in the city center before heading downhill to the coast, which makes it a race with PR potential, but only if the weather plays ball. Sometimes you’ll be heading into a vicious headwind during the coastal section.
Sign up | £68
The Wales Marathon
Next event: June 23, 2024
There aren’t many big marathons scheduled in the summer for fear of the race falling on an especially hot day—though in the UK it’s probably an acceptable risk. In addition, lining up this event in late June means the bulk of training is done in spring and early summer, which is a more enjoyable time to log long runs than during the winter ahead of a spring marathon. The Wales Marathon takes place on closed roads in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and has a rolling, but not brutally hilly, route with around 600m of climbing in total.
Sign up | £55
New Forest Marathon Weekend
Next event: September 8, 2024
This two-day event crams in a wide array of races: Adults can tackle a marathon, half marathon, 10K or 5K, while juniors can line up for a 1km or 200m run. In the marathon, you can expect a scenic route through the New Forest on trails that undulate throughout, though there are no truly terrifying single climbs to worry about. Make sure to look out for the famous New Forest ponies as you run.
Sign up | £46
Loch Ness Marathon
Next event: September 29, 2024
One of the UK’s most picturesque races, this point-to-point marathon runs along the south-eastern shores of Loch Ness allowing you to take in the epic scenery of the Highlands before finishing in Inverness. Of course you won’t see any of that scenery because your eyes will be glued to the water in the hope of spotting Nessie. If you’re interested in running this race, you’ll want to know about the seven things I learned running the Loch Ness Marathon.
Sign up | £68
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.