Autumn brings with it the arrival of the eagerly anticipated London marathon ballot results and subsequently a lot of marathon excitement in the UK. There’s no question that running a marathon is an incredible achievement and large scale events like London, Manchester and Brighton attract thousands of runners every year.


Whether you’re chasing a PB or running for charity, it’s a race you’ll never forget. But if taking on a road marathon doesn’t appeal to you then it’s hard to know where to look for something that comes close to the classic 26.2 miles.


We’ve put together our top five marathon alternatives. Whether you’re looking for a tough fundraising challenge or for something a little different to get excited about then look no further. 


The HellRunner race series is currently sponsored by Brooks Running. If the name didn’t give enough of an indication, this is a brutal race designed to test your physical and mental strength as well as your pace. HellRunner is trail running at its toughest and incorporates the kind of terrain that’s designed to get you muddy and wet. The events are hosted in the North and the South of the UK and over the years have attracted participants who prefer their challenges to be ‘wetter, hillier and hellier’.


The HellRunner course covers 10 miles of gruelling obstacles and winter weather as well as a 2000 strong start line to navigate your way through. Whether you want to take on the challenge alone or as a team, you can take on the bog of doom and come out with a complete trail running experience.

Image source and credit: Brooks Hell Runner/RandRPhotos

Men's Health Survival of the Fittest

Despite the Men’s health endorsement, this event is open to anyone who wants to take on this tough obstacle course. Designed more as a test of survival than running ability, this 10k obstacle course will have you flying over hay bales and climbing up walls for breakfast.


This series of events take place across the UK, and if you’re city based the good news is these obstacle courses are in a pop-up style and appear right in the city centre. Places go quickly though, so if you’re up for the challenge book on as soon as you can.

Wings for the Life World Run

This is a charity race with a difference. Every year the Wings for life world run takes place in locations across the world, with thousands of runners taking part at the same time, day or night. The difference is that the finish line isn’t stationary and you’ll never know how far you’re required to run until you get going.


Runners start the race with a chaser vehicle leaving the start line half an hour later. As soon as the vehicle passes you, you’re time is up and the race is over. The vehicle doesn’t stay at one speed though which means the aim of the game is to run as fast and as far as you can before the car catches you.


That takes pace making to another level.

Three Peaks Challenge

Moving away from the short and fast marathon alternatives, we’ve set our sights on a classic test of endurance available in the UK. The three peaks challenge has many forms, but the classic National Three Peaks Challenge is the most popular. It involves climbing the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland in under 24 hours. Snowdon (1085m), Scafell Pike (978m) and Ben Nevis (1345m).


You can take part in the challenge in two ways – a self-organised group or an organised event. Registering your organised group will make your attempt to complete the challenge official and can be done online. 

Red Bull 400

Running 400m sounds like a warm up compared to 26.2 miles, but not when it’s running 400m up an almost vertical hill. This race certainly isn’t one to be underestimated and will have your heart racing all the way across the finish line.


The RedBull 400 requires its runners to sprint 400 metres at an altitude close to 200m, on slopes that were designed for ski jumps and not adrenaline searching endurance runners. The Red Bull 400 series takes place worldwide so you’ll be able to find a race close to you, but if you’re up for an even tougher challenge, why not try them all? 

Image Source and Credit: Red Bull

Whatever your race, get set for the road and the trail with the latest running shoes and gear here.  

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