If you're keen to run a marathon but failed to get a place in the sought-after London Marathon, fear not! London might be the most famous 26.2 mile race in the UK but it's certainly not the only one. There are plenty of excellent races taking place across the UK that are considerably easier to get to (and to get into) than London.
And whilst you’re there, why not make a weekend of it and explore somewhere new? We've picked out the best alternative UK marathons for you to tackle this year, as well as where you should eat and what you can see. So, lace up and get jogging!
Set in one of the prettiest cities in the world, it’s no surprise that Edinburgh Marathon has sold out every year since 2008.
Fast and flat, Edinburgh’s course is ideal if it’s your first marathon or you’re looking for a PB. The race begins in the grounds of Edinburgh University and takes in iconic sites like the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat.
The second largest race in the UK, Edinburgh Marathon offers guaranteed entry to all unsuccessful London Marathon applicants, so what are you waiting for?
Edinburgh Marathon is held on 27th May at 10am. Standard entry period ends Wednesday 11th April at 5pm.
Post Marathon grub
Whether you want a big dirty burger or some post-race haggis, you are sure to be satisfied in Edinburgh. We recommend MUMS on Forrest Road which prides itself on serving up great comfort food. Sausage and mash is the speciality here, with around sixteen varieties of potato and five kinds of sausages, including a couple of vegetarian options! Add in a large beer and you’ll be as good as new.
Top thing to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is the heart of Scotland’s historical capital. Running through the city’s Old Town, the Royal Mile connects the magnificent Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Mile is peppered with amazing attractions, stunning architecture and some of the best eating and drinking spots in the city.
A short walk away from the Royal Mile is the Grassmarket; once a medieval market place and site for public executions, the area is now a vibrant zone buzzing with lively bars and unique shops. Check out our blog post for free stuff to do in Edinburgh and our Edinburgh guide for more things to do in Scotland’s capital city.
There’s nothing quite like running by the sea and Bournemouth Marathon’s speedy route takes runners alongside the stunning Bournemouth coast.
The Bournemouth Marathon starts in Kings Park before making its way down onto the sea front. Runners will head east through Boscombe before doubling back all the way to Sandbacks, with gorgeous views the whole way. Keep an eye out for the famous Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, high up on Bournemouth’s spectacular cliff-top overlooking the sea.
Enjoy superb sea views and crisp clean air in one of the most attractive marathons in the UK.
Bournemouth Marathon is held on Sunday 7th October at 10am and entry is guaranteed.
Post Marathon grub
What better blow out meal in Bournemouth than fresh fish and chips? Since 1989, Chez Fred have served the best fish and chips in town. Priding themselves on taking the finest quality fish and encasing it in their own recipe batter, served with proper fat chips and some of the ‘best mushy peas’ you’re ever likely to taste – a visit to the chippy is just what you need after your big race, and Chez Fred is the best in town.
Top thing to do in Bournemouth
Bournemouth Pier is an essential part of any trip to Bournemouth. Abuzz with activity and with a backdrop of the town’s beautiful beaches; the pier is a fantastic place to spend a couple of hours. The pier is packed with all-weather entertainment from amusement arcades to adrenaline pumping activities, and even a zip wire over the sea! After all the action, you’ll want to tuck into something tasty and whether you fancy a coffee and a piece of cake or a cocktail with a stunning coastal view, the pier will provide.
The Yorkshire Marathon
The Yorkshire Marathon very quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the North’s sporting year. A truly Yorkshire Marathon, this attractive popular run showcases the best of the city of York and its surrounding countryside.
Running past impressive historical sites like York Minster and along quaint country lanes and through friendly villages makes the 26.2 miles as enjoyable as can be.
The Yorkshire Marathon is being held on 14th October at 9.30am and places will sell out fast!
Post Marathon grub
Northerners love a pub and York has some of the best fine dining pubs in the country, so if a large pint and wholesome meal sounds like just what you need after your race, then you’re sorted. The Masons Arms serves hearty home cooked food and locally sourced traditional ales, and boasts an enviable position overlooking the City walls and Gatehouse. The homemade pies are a favourite and, whatever you order, make sure you pour on lashings of gravy like a true northerner would.
Top thing to do in York
York Minster is the largest Medieval cathedral north of the Alps and one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic buildings. Containing the largest concentration of medieval stained glass in England, the vast east window is believed to be the biggest area of stained glass anywhere in the world! Make sure you tour the top of the tower to enjoy breath-taking views over York’s historic streets. From the Minster the famous Shambles of York (one of the most charming streets in Britain) is just a short walk away.
Once you’ve booked your place on the race, make sure you take advantage of great savings with CrossCountry Advance train tickets.