The Best UK Races for Summer and Autumn

The landscape of races is different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find events near you. There are many more race options on offer than last summer, with opportunities to both try something different, or push yourself to test your fitness levels.

With a partial lockdown still in place, the normal scope for race participation in the UK hasn’t bounced back to pre-pandemic levels. Hopefully throughout the summer more test events will continue and we’ll see more big city races return, especially the planned London Marathon in October. Until then, hopefully the Tokyo Olympic Games will give you plenty of inspiration to find a local race, or take on a new and different challenge. All races that are being put on are Covid-secure, and the opportunity to meet up with other athletes is a great incentive. 

Big City Run

The Asics London 10K, on Sunday 25 July is a fast-paced, flat 10K route that will take you on a tour through the best of London’s Westminster, racing past the capital’s most iconic and historical landmarks such as Big Ben, the London Eye and River Thames. Live music, DJs and entertainment will be at every kilometre on the course. You’ll get a safe and Covid-secure race day experience. You also get a Covid-guarantee which promises runners that their ticket will be deferred to a new event date and/or format free of charge if they are required to change due to Covid-19.

25th July, limelig.ht/london 

The Race Series Option

Venues with plenty of open space have been able to continue to offer race options for those who need goals to work to and love to chase PBs. If you live near to a racing circuit or open parkland you’ll probably find a race that you can enter, though running laps isn’t for everyone. Open spaces can often be more windy that you’d expect and racing circuits are never quite as flat as you’d imagine. 

If you check out the Run Through event website you’ll see they offer all distances in all regions, not just London based events. Take your pick from 5K to 10K or half marathon. One of these is the Run Heaton Park 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, where you can run around the grounds of a Grade 1 listed neoclassical 18th century house, just north of Manchester. Running on the paths within Heaton Park, this race is a great opportunity for a chip timed personal best. This race boasts plenty of helpers to keep you on track and to encourage you on your way to the finish. Entry includes a chip timed result, stunning themed medal, free official event photos and the all-important fruit and flapjacks!

1st August 2021, £22 – £26, runthrough.co.uk 


Take to the trails

There are definitely more trail options available this year; in general trail races tend to have smaller fields, with runners often taking on a challenge where they may not run with anyone else for significant portions of a race. They have a different feel and often require you to change down a gear, especially as many include significant elevation and long miles – think of them as a day out rather than chasing down a PB. If this idea appeals, they why not escape urban life, connect with nature and enjoy a full day of running and outdoor activities at the Salomon Festival in the Chilterns. On offer are timed 5K, 10K and 20K runs, guided one- and two-hour hikes, testing new Salomon product, trail running and outdoor skills workshops, talks on technique, where to run and hike, communities to join, yoga classes and food and drink stands. All Access tickets cost £30 which includes all the activities you wish to join in with, or £15 for Festival Village Access tickets, which include all activity within the village grounds. Under 16s go free and parking is free.

7th August 2021, salomonfestival.co.uk 

Want something longer? The Salomon Golden Trail National Series includes Scafell Pike Marathon on 15th August and the Ring of Steall, Glencoe Skyline, on 18th September, goldentrailseries.com 

The Charity Run

Charity races have largely gone virtual in 2021, but some are hoping to go ahead in real time. This could give you the opportunity to travel to somewhere different and try a new course that you wouldn’t have considered pre-covid. What about the Wright Hassall Leamington Regency 10K for a new race experience?

Entering its 18th year, this popular 10K hopes to sign up 2,500 runners to raise funds for a local charity. “The money raised from the Wright Hassall Regency Run makes a life-changing ripple effect throughout Leamington’s community all year round, so we are delighted to be able to open entries for this year’s run amid all of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic,” said race director, Harpal Singh. Despite last year’s event being cancelled, the majority of runners didn’t ask for a refund, raising £15,000 for community causes. Since it began in 2004 the race, which is a multi-terrain course through some of Royal Leamington Spa’s best parks and gardens, has distributed more than £350,000 of money to charitable causes.

19th September,  regency10k.co.uk  

Looking Ahead to Autumn Challenges

If you’re not sure where your fitness is, what kind of race you want to travel to, or are just in need of adventure after multiple lockdowns, book in an autumn race to help boost your motivation to train differently this summer. Ultra races will not only give you a big goal to work towards and challenge you to new levels, they are often staged in some of the UK’s most spectacular scenery. 

The Asics Coast Ultra Xtreme in Cornwall is a five day ultra-running event on the stunning Cornish coast with £2500 in prize money. You cover a total distance of 215K with 7400m of vertical ascent and individual stages between 27-60K. The event also offers ITRA and UTMB points. There are now more entries and the route has been refined, taking runners from Porth Mellin to Padstow. The new course follows some of Britain’s best coastline trails including plenty to interest the world’s best elite athletes yet is achievable for newcomers to the sport. Athletes already registered for its sister event, the Votwo Atlantic Coast Challenge can upgrade to the Asics Coast Ultra Xtreme by contacting organisers. Oxfordshire-based Slovakian Robert Gunar says: “Looking out into the ocean is too good to be true. The colours are so vibrant, blue, grey, turquoise – everything is just so vivid. What more do you want from life!” It’s a tough but achievable event with a single overnight site with accommodation or camping on offer and daily transfers to and from starts and finishes providing the ideal first event, with a comfortable base to recover and refuel for the next day. And hopefully those last rays of summer will follow you to the finish line.  

6th-10th October: www.votwo.co.uk/asicscux

Are you in need of adventure after multiple lockdowns? Why not book in an autumn race to help boost your motivation to train differently this summer?