5 of the UK's Most Epic Running Events
Team Iffley's Sam Pearce loves to run the 'footpaths less travelled'. Sam writes about 5 of the UK's most epic and unusual running events.
1. Badminton Horseless Trial
Event details: Badminton Horseless Team Event
Where: Badminton, Gloucestershire
2018 date: 14th October (TBC)
Here's a race that does exactly what it says on the tin: Runners take on the famous equestrian cross country course around Badminton House in the Cotswolds, except without a horse. With half marathon, nine mile, and five-mile distances plus Canicross races, there is an event for everyone - and all profits go to local charities. The obstacles - some of which are so large that even the best-trained horse can refuse to jump them - are at times a formidable challenge for competitors. The water hazards are no less deep and chilly, so don't forget to bring a change of clothes!
2. Dartmoor Prison Break
Event details: Dartmoor Prison Break
Where: Princetown, Devon
2018 date: 7th/8th July
Although the DPB is still in its infancy (it was first run in 2017), the concept of this event has been around for as long as people have had days off with nothing else to do! The goal is simple: Get as far away as possible from the start point in a given time - and in this case the start is the gates of the famous penitentiary at Princetown, Devon. Escapees are fitted with a GPS tracker and given either 12 or 24 hours to travel as quickly as they can on foot, but the twist is that distances are taken as the crow flies - so efficient route planning is vital to maximise straight-line measurement. Last year's entrants battled against Storm Brian in October, but the 2018 edition has been moved forward to the summer and the 24-hour winners are expected to travel in the region of 100 miles. There is extra reason to have a go at this event: it exists to raise funds for the Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth, who are standby 24/7/365 to assist Devon's emergency services.
3. nohtaraM nodnoL ehT
('The London Marathon' written backwards)
Event details: nohtaraM nodnoL ehT
Where: Central London
2018 date: 22nd April
While nohtaraM nodnoL ehT isn't actually a race, it is certainly deserving of a mention in this list. Born out of the frustration felt by a group of runners at failing to gain a ballot place for the London Marathon, the idea is not to run the event backwards, but to cover the route in reverse. Around 200 runners meet on The Mall in the small hours before the official event, and set off in waves at 2am, 3am, and 4am - arriving onto Blackheath early enough to avoid making a nuisance of themselves. It is organised by members of the Social Ultra Facebook page and is free to attend, but remember that you must be fully self-supported as there are no marshals or aid stations on this run!
4. Man vs Horse
Event details: Man vs Horse
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
2018 date: 9th June
As with so many silly ideas, the Man vs Horse race was the result of a boozy night down the local pub. For centuries horses were our only means of travelling long distances, but they can only move quickly when the trails are good - so over 22 miles of rocky and technical paths with thousands of feet of vertical gain, who is faster? It turns out that more often than not four legs still trumps two, but there have been a few notable human victories in the event's 27 years. £500 is added to the prize pot for each year a horse crosses the line first, so if a runner wins the race in 2018 they'll take home a whopping £2,500.
5. Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 24 Hour Track Race
Event details: Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 24 Hour Track Race
Where: Tooting Bec Athletics Track, London
2018 date: 22nd/23rd September
A long ultramarathon surely had to make this list, and they don't come tougher than a 24-hour track race: It's just you, your support crew, and a standard 400m athletics track from midday Saturday to midday Sunday. Mind battles body as the clock keeps ticking and the rubber stretches endlessly away into tomorrow, with no changes in surface, gradient, or scenery to distract the runner from building fatigue. 2017 winner Norbert Mihalik achieved an amazing 161.18 miles - that's 648.5 laps - but the world record (held by Greek ultrarunning legend Yiannis Kouros) is a mind-blowing 188.59 miles. To put that in perspective, that's more than seven back-to-back marathons all completed in 3 hours 20 minutes, or an average pace of 7'38/mile throughout.
Are you inspired to take on one of these crazy challenges, or have you completed something equally bonkers in the past? We'd love to hear from you! Drop us an email on our contact page or let us know via our Instagram accounts, @iffleyroadrunningwear and @thefootpathlesstravelled.
Please note - dates of the events may be subject to change by the event organisers. Please check the relevant event pages for further details.