Our selection of the best, fastest, toughest, quirkiest and most enjoyable UK races this month.
Run For The 97 5K
With the sad passing of Andrew Devine last July, there are now 97 victims of the tragedy at Hillsborough. This 5K in Stanley Park (between Anfield and Goodison Park, the homes of Liverpool and Everton FC respectively) has been remembering and celebrating the lives of those victims since 2015, as well as paying tribute to their families and friends, who have tirelessly campaigned for justice ever since that terrible day in 1989. The run raises funds for several charities across Merseyside.
Liverpool, May 21, btrliverpool.com
Scottish Islands Peaks Race
You’ll need a multi-talented group of pals for this event – and a boat. Over three or four days, you’ll sail from Oban on the Scottish mainland to three different islands to conquer several of the region’s most iconic peaks and ranges: the Paps of Jura, Goat Fell on Arran and Ben More on Mull. Teams usually consist of three sailors and two runners, but there is a class for running sailors and sailing runners. From our (limited) experience of sailing, the jellylegs that result make it fundamentally incompatible with running – get out there and prove us wrong.
Oban, Argyllshire, May 20, scottishislandspeaksrace.com
Mammoth Marathon & Half Marathon
This much-anticipated event was intended to be Norfolk’s first road marathon since the original Norfolk Marathon ended in 1990… but then 2020 happened. And then 2021. But now it’s 2022, and the Mammoth Marathon – with a name to celebrate Norfolk’s prehistoric heritage – can finally go ahead. It runs northwards along the coast from Sea Palling to Sheringham, with the half starting at Mundesley. The good people of Norfolk have been training non-stop for this event for two years now, so we are expecting British records, if not world records, from these events. Maybe.
Sea Palling, Norfolk, May 15, north-norfolk.gov.uk
London 2 Brighton Challenge
This 105K ultra sounds initially impossibly difficult, but bear with us. Once you’re out of London, you’ll be in the scenic environs of the North Downs, with lots more scenery to come before you hit Brighton. The event is geared as much towards walkers as runners – there’s a campsite around the 50k mark – so there’s no stress with cut-offs. There are even options for a quarter and a half of the full distance. Suddenly it sounds pretty enjoyable and doable, doesn’t it?
Richmond, London, May 28-29, ultrachallenge.com
Five Rivers Ultra
As the crow flies, there’s only about 35km between Harwich and Blaxhall, but this event takes the most scenic route possible. It painstakingly weaves back and forth to follow the estuaries of five rivers – the Stour, Orwell, Deben, Butley and Ore/Alde – covering some 165km altogether. This area has plenty of sights to see: Sutton Hoo is close by and is just one of several historical landmarks, and this is Constable country, so there will be plenty of beautiful landscapes to enjoy. There are also shorter options, and a 32-hour cut-off.
Harwich, Essex, 14 May, fiveriversultra.org.uk
Pinhaw Trail Race
A good, old-fashioned, no-frills fell race here, starting and ending in the village of Earby and heading up the trails to Pin Haw. It’s 8km in total, with a tough but manageable 213m of ascent. It’s only a fiver to enter, and there’s no pre-registration. Just show up after a long week’s work on a Friday evening, pay the fiver, run up the hill and back down again. Job done, and now you have a whole weekend to look forward to with the hard work all behind you.
Earby, Lancashire, 6 May, barlickfellrunners.org.uk
Whangie Whizz Hill Race
The Whangie is a strange hill to the north of Glasgow – it looks as though a slice has been carved out of the hill and removed, creating a type of canyon that you can walk through. Some say the devil made the scar in the hill when he flicked his tail, others say it was due to a type of landslide or glacial movement. We know which explanation we prefer. This race is a quick 7km gallop up the hill and back down again, with an optional few moments at the top to enjoy the lovely views.
Auchengillan, Stirlingshire, 1 May, westerlandsccc.co.uk
Vitality London 10,000
Big city races still feel like a thrilling novelty after the last two years, and this one is as big and thrilling as they get. After two virtual years, the London 10,000 is back in the centre of the city, with its route that doubles up as a brilliant sightseeing tour of the capital. The Westminster Mile takes place on the day before, so you have two world-class running events to choose from in central London this May Bank Holiday weekend.
London, 2 May, vitalitylondon10000.co.uk
North Dorset Village Marathon
Sure, this is a very well-organised marathon through the pretty Dorset countryside through a load of gorgeous little villages and beautiful scenery. That’s all great. But get this: there’s a hog roast at the end! A whole hog! Roasted! And there will also be plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food. The route for the race is undulating, and there’s a relay option too, but you’re going to want to go the whole hog yourself, aren’t you?
Sturminster Newton, Dorset, 1 May, ndvm.co.uk
Great Birmingham Run
This half marathon hasn’t been run as scheduled since way back in 2018 – a lifetime ago. The 2019 event was cut short due to a security alert, and we all know what happened to the 2020 and 2021 runs. The route heads southwards from the city centre through Calthorpe, Cannon Hill and Selly Parks before returning to the city centre for a big finish. The 10K is also taking place on the same day, and we anticipate a pretty decent atmosphere for them both.
Birmingham, 1 May, greatrun.org
Barratt Homes Romsey Marathon Relay
Plenty of running events throw in a relay option as an afterthought; this one does it as the main event. You can register a team with up to ten runners, each of whom will run a lap of 2.8 miles in the rather lovely surroundings of the Broadlands Estate in Romsey. There’s hardly a better way to ease yourself into the world of longer distances than this event, since runners are allowed to run more than one lap, but may not run consecutive laps. There’ll be a very family-friendly atmosphere, with plenty of food on offer, and spectators are encouraged to bring their own barbeques and gazebos.
Romsey, Hampshire, 1 May, romseymarathon.co.uk
Gibside National Trust Trail 10K
The gardens, woodland and countryside at Gibside are usually far too busy and popular to be able to host a running event – so this trail run takes place outside the estate’s usual opening hours and offers runners a rare opportunity to explore this unique Georgian designed landscape. The 10K is a trail run over hilly terrain, and there’s also a family one-mile run beforehand to get the little ones nice and tired.
Gibside, Durham, 4 May, wilddeerevents.co.uk
Strabane Lifford Half Marathon
This half marathon starts and finishes in Strabane, but most of its first half takes place in Ireland before returning to Northern Ireland for the second half. The border crossing point is the impressive Clady Bridge over the River Finn, a 350ish-year-old structure with clever little pedestrian refuge points that all the awed locals can hide in as you thunder past. The race ends on the running track at the Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane, which means a stonking finish is expected from every last one of you.
Strabane, Co. Tyrone, 14 May, derrystrabane.com/SLHM
Brynkinalt Running Festival
The Trevor family, owners of Brynkinalt Estate for over a thousand years, usually don’t allow runners on their grand property – except for this annual festival of running. The Hall, dating back to 1612, is a particularly impressive building and the race HQ for this 5K, 10K and 20K is right in front of it. Expect all types of terrain, from trail paths to grass to pebbled paths – and a couple of decent hills too.
Chirk, Denbighshire, 8 May, adrenalinesportingevents.co.uk
Red Bull Wings for Life
Can you outrun a car? Of course not. But with a healthy head start, you might be able to stay ahead of it for a while. That’s the premise of this race, which has the added bonus of raising money for people with spinal cord injuries. The ninth edition will be run virtually, an actual car being replaced by the Wings for Life World Run app. If that rather sounds impossibly naff, the organisers assure us that said app will provide ‘an exciting listening experience that informs, motivates and entertains during the run’. We're intrigued.
Virtual run, 8 May, wingsforlifeworldrun.com
Sunderland City Runs Half Marathon & 10K
The organisers of this event have planned a very scenic route for the half marathon. It explores both sides of the River Wear, following city roads into both Roker Park and Mowbray Park and even running along the seafront for a while, which will either be lovely or horrible depending on the weather. The half is preceded by a 10K on the Sunday, with a 5K taking place the previous evening.
Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, 7-8 May, sunderlandcity10k.com