There’s something special about the London Marathon. The atmosphere, the prestige, that moment when you cross the iconic London Bridge, there’s a reason this 26-miler is on every runner’s (and a lot of non-runner’s) bucket lists. That’s what makes missing out feel worse than a lactic-acid build-up. But whether this is the first or the fifth time you've failed to get a ballot place for the London Marathon, there are a bunch of epic marathon alternatives up and down the country that will still give you all the feels as you cross the finish line.
Check out our favourite London marathon alternatives and start training for 26.2 miles of smiles, sweat, stitches and the kind of fun you’ll never forget:
When: 1 May 2022
That’s its official name, yet most runner’s know it only as 'The Tough One’ and it won’t take long before you find yourself nodding in agreement. Taking in the sensational landscape of South Downs, this marathon throws more than just miles at you. From the 3,450 feet of climbing to the plethora of stiles and dirt tracks laid out in front of you, this multi-terrain run is a far cry from the paved streets of London. Tough, challenging and packed full of soul-stirring sights, if there’s one race that will help you forget all about the London marathon, this is it.
When: 29 May 2022
Not many marathons come close to the big energy atmosphere of London, but with over 30,000 runners lining up on the start line, the Edinburgh Marathon comes close. Consistently Scotland's biggest running event, this marathon is for anyone looking to take home a PB thanks to the fast, flat route that takes you through the buzzing city of Edinburgh, past some of the most iconic landmarks and along the dramatic coastline. What more could a runner want?
When: 26 June 2022
This is as much an experience as it is a marathon; one that whisks you away from the everyday as you explore the wild countryside on Brighton’s doorstep. Starting on the iconic seafront, this route heads straight into the South Downs National Park where you’ll get to pound the chalky trails, run across the rolling hills and into the woodlands for a life-changing adventure that will leave you with way more than just a medal. From coast to country, this is a race that every trail runner needs to pop on their to-do list
When: 11 September 2022
Okay-okay, so this might not be the London Marathon, but it’s still a London Marathon and a seriously buzzing alternative too. Swapping the crazy crowds of Westminster for the scenic routes of Richmond, this flat and fast marathon takes in some of the greenest hotspots of London’s suburbs. Kicking things off in Kew Gardens and finishing up in the Old Deer Park, this crowd-free, gently undulating and totally breathtaking run will leave you wondering why you even entered the London ballot in the first place, all while you soak up the famous post-race atmosphere.
When: 11 September 2022
This is not just another marathon. This is a marathon with a 36-year legacy; one that takes you through the mind-melting landscapes of the New Forest National Park on a multi-terrain route that will leave you wishing it didn’t stop after 26-miles (possibly). From pounding the pavements of the local chocolate box villages during the pretty flat first-half to tackling the topsy-turvy gradient in the second, the New Forest Marathon has it all: scenery, history, prestige and an epic atmosphere.
When: 2 October 2022
This race might be on the small side, but it packs a mighty punch with an atmosphere that could rival all the big boys, even London. Combine that with the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and the stunning scenery that envelopes the shores of this Scottish lake, and you start to understand why this one gets so many repeat runners. Now in its 20th year, this event has quickly stolen the crown for most breath-taking marathon. Winding your way along the south-eastern banks, up and over the River Ness and finally into the beating heart of Scotland’s iconic Inverness, this alternative race has everything it needs to become your favourite annual event. And the best part: there’s a £50,000 reward for any runner that spots Nessie lurking in the obsidian waters.
When: 16 October 2022
Whether you're aiming to pull off a new PB or you’re just hoping to cross the finish line, the Yorkshire Marathon is one of the most postcard-perfect marathons for new and seasoned runners. Welcoming over 7000 people to the start line, the route takes you past some of York’s most iconic sites and landmark buildings, along the history-loaded cobbled streets and then out into Yorkshire’s empty country lanes where you get to soak up the picturesque views and autumnal colours everywhere you look. It’s no wonder this race is getting more and more popular, especially amongst first-timers. From the city vibes to the countryside, this really is one of the best alternatives to the London marathon in the UK.
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