The Best UK Half Marathons For 2023: When And How To Bag A Place

Runners in the Hackney Half Marathon
Runners in the Hackney Half Marathon (Image credit: LimeLight Sports Club)

The UK plays host to some of the biggest and best half marathons in the world, and you’ll be sure to find whatever kind of event you’re looking for. Whether you’re just starting half marathon training and are lining up an end goal, or are ploughing through marathon training and looking for a half to do as part of that, we’ve picked out an array of excellent UK half marathons for you.

The Best UK Half Marathons 2023

Great Manchester Run

Next event: 21st May 2023

There are 24 entertainment zones along the route of this half marathon, which starts and finishes in central Manchester, and visits the grounds of both United and City, as well as Salford Quays. The entertainment includes music and cheer buses, and large crowds of organised support and locals line the route to cheer you on your way.

Sign up | £53

Hackney Half Marathon

Next event: 21st May 2023

There’s a whole lot more than a half marathon going on at this event in east London, with a festival of fitness spanning the weekend. It limbers up with a stretching session on Friday, continues with a 5K on Saturday, and then there’s the small matter of the Hackney Half on Sunday morning. The race has a route that winds through the borough, including the Olympic Park, as well as one of the best atmospheres of any race in the capital – with supporters coming out in numbers in all conditions. Alongside the running you can get involved in fitness classes at the festival, which goes well beyond the usual runner’s village at the start/finish area.

Sign up | From £52 early bird

Edinburgh Half Marathon

Next event: 28th May 2023

It’s not always advisable to look at the elevation profile of a race, because you might find the ups scare you more than the downs delight you, but it’s definitely worth checking out the graph for the Edinburgh Half Marathon before you run it. That’s because the elevation line dives almost 90m as you head from the city centre to the coast over the course of the race. Almost all of that downhill is in the first 8km of the event, so you can enjoy a fast start and a shot at a big PB on the day.

Sign up | £41

London Landmarks Half Marathon

Next event: 2nd April 2023

As you’d expect from the name, the route of this half marathon is littered with the capital’s top sights: runners start on Pall Mall, finish on Downing Street and pass pretty much every notable building in central London in between. The route has a lot of twists and turns but it’s still reasonably flat and fast if you’re trying for a PB, although this is an event where it’s worth focusing on enjoying the atmosphere and raising money for a good cause. The ballot for the 2023 event has been and gone, but you can still run for charity. 

Run for charity | London Landmarks Half Marathon event guide

Race The Train Tywyn

Next event: 19th August 2023

This race on the North Wales coast is actually 14 miles, so a little longer than a half marathon, but we’ll hope you forgive us because it’s a unique event that’s well worth flagging up. Participants in the main Rotary Challenge event race a steam train on an out-and-back course alongside the Talyllyn Railway – the train takes around 1hr 47min to complete the route. The course is a mix of road and trails, and it can get very muddy in the hilly second half, so you need to be well ahead of the train at the halfway point to bring home the win.

Sign up | £35

The Big Half

Do Something

(Image credit: Unknown )

Next event: 3rd September 2023

It launched as a spring event, but in 2021 The Big Half moved to a late summer date and the organisers have opted to stick with that berth since then. Entries are yet to open for 2023, but you can register your interest in the event so you are notified when they go on sale – it cost £46 to enter in 2022.

The course starts at Tower Bridge and finishes in Greenwich, following a similar route to the first half of the London Marathon, and organisers make an effort to involve runners from the four boroughs it passes through – Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Greenwich – with discounted entry for residents.

Register interest for 2023 | £TBC | The Big Half guide

Great North Run

The Great North Run

Runners in the Great North Run after crossing the Tyne Bridge (Image credit: Unknown )

Next event: 10th September 2023

The world’s biggest half marathon returned to its normal course in 2022 after a couple of disrupted years, with its famous crowds cheering runners from central Newcastle to the finish in South Shields. The ballot for this year’s event opened on 9th January and shuts on Monday 20th February, but if you miss out on a place through that route you could run for charity.

Enter ballot | £59 if successful 

Scottish Half Marathon

Next event: 24th September 2023

The route of the Scottish Half Marathon runs along the coast of East Lothian, just outside Edinburgh, and finishes at Musselburgh racecourse, which has been holding horse-racing events since 1816. PB hunters will be pleased to learn that the course is a very fast one, with runners heading downhill for the most part in the first 6km before settling into the flat along the coast.

Sign up | £42.25

Ealing Half Marathon

Next event: 24th September 2023

This popular event takes runners on a tour of west London, starting and finishing in Lammas Park and visiting many green spots in between. The route has a lot of twists and turns and some considerable bumps as well, so it’s not the flat-out fastest option you’ll come across, but the Ealing Half Marathon always offers runners a great atmosphere and consistently earns rave reviews from participants.

Sign up | £42.10

Cardiff Half Marathon

Cardiff Half Marathon

(Image credit: Unknown)

Next event: 1st October 2023

Runners seeking a cracking atmosphere and a PB-friendly course should head to Wales’s capital for one of the biggest races in the autumn calendar. Early bird entries have already sold out for what will be the 20th anniversary edition of the race, and the rest of the places will go well before the event in October, so don’t delay in signing up if you fancy running this one.

Sign up | £46

Kielder Half Marathon

Next event: 8th October 2023

Kielder Water in Northumberland is the setting for this race, which is part of a running festival that also includes a full marathon and 10K. The half marathon starts with a 6km out-and-back stretch past a huge spectator point on Kielder Dam, which should provide enough motivation to power you through the rest of the race around the southern half of the lake.

Sign up | £41

Oxford Half Marathon 

Oxford Half Marathon

(Image credit: Oxford Half Marathon)

Next event: 15th October 2023

This half marathon in the autumn has a scenic route that takes in Oxford’s historic city centre and the charming village of Old Marston, though if you prefer to get your head down and race it’s also a quick enough course to log a PB. A ballot for the race will open later in the year, but you can bypass that by grabbing an early bird entry now.

Early bird sign up | £45

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

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.