Written By Amber Dale
The Best UK Ultramarathons for 2023
2023 is going to be an epic year for ultra marathons in the UK. Now is the time to start planning and looking at the variety of ultra-marathons available to register for in England, Scotland, and Wales.
Not all ultras are born equal, as such we have done some work for you to provide you with the best and most awe-inspiring ultra races on UK soil. As much as we love a bit of travel, we do have a host of amazing events on our doorstep which should not be missed out on!
Who said the UK doesn’t have some incredible hidden trail treasures?
Ultra X Scotland
Ultra X Scotland takes place in the breath-taking Scottish Highlands with the Great Glen and Loch Ness at its centre. This race offers both a challenge for an advanced, intermediate or a beginner competitor and offers a two-day race covering 110km and a single stage 50km.
Expect an event full of character; mind-blowing views of Loch Ness, pipers, and for this year, 11 fully stocked aid stations along the route. You can enter Ultra X 110 Scotland race on our website today.
Where: Loch Ness
When: 6-7 May 2022
Elevation Gain: 3,768m
Difficulty Level: Medium
Entry Price: £345
Highland Fling Race
Runners come from all around the world to this iconic event to mix with the local community. This route follows the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long-distance footpath, through the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and prides itself on allowing as many runners as possible to be able to experience Scotland’s stunning scenery and the camaraderie that exists within the Scottish ultrarunning community.
Where: Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire
When: April 2023 (tbc)
Distance: 53 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,300m
Difficulty Level: Difficult
Entry Price: TBC
The Montane Dragon’s Back Race
The Montane Dragon’s Back Race is a back breaking (quite literally) 6-day race. This is a seriously challenging event with technical running, a lot of ups and downs and sharp cut-offs. If you are an advanced runner, then Dragon’s Back is a race for you to consider as it will push you to the limit every day from Conwy Castle in North Wales to Cardiff Castle. If you don’t fancy the full event the ’23 edition will offer the “half-dragon” which is a great option for anyone who isn’t quite ready for the full challenge just yet!
Where: Wales (it’s quite long!)
When: 4-9th September 2023
Difficulty Level: Brutal
Entry Price: £1,599
Cape Wrath Ultra
Cape Wrath Ultra is considered to be the toughest long distance backpacking trail in the UK, so if you want a route that is going to pack a punch, I would say this has to be it! To put this in perspective; hikers would take a minimum of 20 days to complete the trail but with a couple of adjustments to the route you will be doing this in 8 days!
With the headline of “The UK’s Marathon Des Sables” this is one for someone that loves a multistage event but doesn’t want to leave home shores!
Where: North Western Scotland
When: 21st-28th May 2023
Elevation Gain: 10,149m
Difficulty Level: Brual
Entry Price: £1,899
Montane Lakeland 100
One of the UK’s most competitive ultras that sells out every year, the Lakeland 100 is primarily a tour of the Lake District along with the most stunning trail routes and scenery
something that the average hiker will not necessarily see. This is because instead of passing over the Lakeland summits, the route will take you through the incredible valleys, countours picturesque fells and cuts its own line through the amazing Lakeland topography. The Lakeland 100 will take you to places in Cumbria you may never have known existed before! Don’t be tricked by the beauty though, this 40-hour cut-off rate often has a below 50% finisher rate… Think you could finish it? ’23 entries are already closed but 2024 will open in September.
Where: Lake District
When: 28th-30th July 2023
Distance: 100 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,300m
Difficulty Level: Brutal
Entry Price: £140
Threshold Events Race to the Stones
Race to the Stones is a beautiful route from Lewknor to Avebury. If you love your history, then this would be a great ultramarathon for you to choose. The route take place on one of the UK’s oldest trails and takes you towards the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avebury stone circle.
Threshold pride themselves on non-technical trails, well supported checkpoints and an accessible course and with a 90% completion rate this is definitely one to consider for a beginner.
When: 8th-9th July 2023
Elevation Gain: 1,129km
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Entry Price: £235
Centurion North Downs Way 50
The NDW50 is a 50-mile race along the North Downs Way National Trail which starts in Farnham Surrey to Knockholt Pound on the outskirts of Great London.
In order to compete in this race, you must have completed a minimum of a marathon distance race within the cut-off times of that event. It’s a well run and friendly event that could be a perfect step up for an ultra-runner that has done 50km and is looking for the next step up.
Where: South-East England
When: 20th May 2023
Elevation Gain: 1,700m
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Entry Price: £105
The Spine is widely registered as one of the toughest endurance challenges in the world. This epic challenge has summer and winter editions, but for us, if you want to really test yourself, it’s got to be the winter version that you put in the race calendar. Do bear in mind though that this is not for beginners!
The event is an unsupported, 268 mile (429km) race along the entire Pennine Way National Trail from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, tracing the backbone of England. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in the country, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over World Heritage listed Hadrian’s Wall, on to the remote Cheviot Hills and, finally, the elusive village of Kirk Yetholm.
It attracted significant publicity in 2019 when Jasmin Paris, a 35-year old veterinarian from Edinburgh became the first woman to win the race outright, breaking the course record in the process. The 2021 edition has already been and gone but for those wanting to do it in 2022 registrations are open and places do not usually last long.
Where: Pennine Way
When: 8 January 2022
Elevation Gain: 13,374m
Difficulty Level: Brutal
Entry Price: £975
Ultra X England
Ultra X England takes place in the stunning setting of the Peak District National Park and is one of the best trail running locations in the country. A spicy course with some sharp climbs that covers some of the best-known routes in the area means that for even the most experienced runner this will be a challenge. However, generous cut-off times mean that this is also one for a first timer who is planning on hiking the majority. Register your interest for the Ultra X 50 England race here!
Where: Peak District
When: 17 September 2023
Distance: 50km (110km option available)
Elevation Gain: 1,987m
Difficulty Level: Medium
Entry Price: £75
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