Largest Marathons in Great Britain

10 Biggest Marathons in the UK

Whether you’re an amateur or an athlete, running is one of the best ways to get and stay fit. Plus, that endorphin rush you get after a good run is totally addictive!

That’s why many runners want to progress from the regular weekly circuit of the park to something a little more challenging. A huge number of marathons are held across the UK every year, attracting competitors in their thousands – if you’re aiming for the top, here are ten of the biggest and some of the best.

1. The London Marathon

Big ben clock tower in London UK
Big ben clock tower in London UK

The Virgin Money London Marathon is the champion of all the running events that dear old Blighty hosts on her fair soil. The race was founded way back in 1981 by Olympic champion Chris Brasher and the athlete John Disley and has been attracting everyone from world record breaking sports stars to first time runners doing their bit for charity ever since!

Typically held on the last Sunday in April, the London Marathon follows a scenic route around the River Thames, and a record 39,140 people completed the race in 2016, and over a million have run the whole course since the first race. Entry is by ballot, unless you secure a spot representing a charity. You’ll need to get in quickly, as the ballot is open for registration for only five days, closing by May the year before the race. Check for accommodation near the start and finish line as well.

Accommodation London

2. The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon

River Lagan in Belfast City Northern Ireland
River Lagan in Belfast Northern Ireland

The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon celebrated its 35th birthday in 2016, making it every bit as established as its London counterpart. It’s pretty popular too, with more than 17,000 runners expected to hit the streets of the Northern Irish capital over the May Bank Holiday weekend in 2018. The time limit for the marathon is six hours and registration usually opens around October.

You can apply to run in the marathon online, by downloading a form from the website, or by collecting a form from local libraries and leisure centres. If you don’t feel up to the full race this time, the same event team also manages a half marathon in the Autumn.

Accommodation Belfast

3. Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Liverpool Albert Dock area
Liverpool Albert Dock

The Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is a race with a difference – it’s accompanied by live music every step of the way! Bands and DJs set the pace with rock, pop, blues and jazz to get the runners’ blood pumping and the crowd jumping.

Participants are even treated to a concert at the finish line. Plus, after starting at the historic Albert Dock, the route takes in musical landmarks like the Cavern Club, known as the home of the Beatles. You can register online for a around £30 fee; registration typically closes in June. The 2018 marathon takes place on 20th May.

Accommodation Liverpool

4. The Greater Manchester Marathon

Manchester City Hall with tower
Manchester City Hall

Claimed to be the flattest marathon course in the UK, the Greater Manchester Marathon has taken place annually since 2012. The course passes many Manchester landmarks, such as the Olf Trafford football ground, home of Manchester United, and finishes at the Old Traffod cricket ground.

There’s a top prize of £750 for the fastest runner, and time bonuses for those finishing the race in under two hours and 30 minutes. Register online from July ahead of the race the following spring.

5. Brighton Marathon

Brighton Pier in England UK
Brighton Pier

The Brighton Marathon is held in April every year in Brighton, on England’s south coast. The inaugural event was held in 2010 with more than 7,500 runners taking part.

Since then the race has grown rapidly, with 12,500 runners pounding the pavements of the coastal city in 2017. Registration opens around one year ahead of the event.

Accommodation Brighton

6. Birmingham International Marathon

Victoria Square in Birmingham England
Victoria Square in Birmingham

Take on a brand new challenge with the Birmingham International Marathon, set to be held for the very first time in October of 2017. It is part of the Great Run British Marathon Series.

The route starts at the Alexandra Stadium, finishing in Birmingham City Centre, taking place on fully closed roads.

The organisers of the running event aim to provide an autumnal alternative to London’s big springtime event, and with entries set at a strict maximum of 10,000, it’s set to be a sellout.

Accommodation Birmingham

7. Stirling Scottish Marathon

Marathon Runners
Marathon Event

The Stirling Scottish Marathon forms part of the Great Run British Marathon Series, with the inaugural event took place on 21st May 2017. Created with the aim of becoming Scotland’s premiere racing event, the run takes a varied course through the area, taking in local landmarks such as the Bridge of Allan, and Doune Castle, ending at the famous Stirling Castle.

The first event attracted more than 7,000 racers and it’s sure to grow!

Accommodation Stirling

8. Milton Keynes Marathon

Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes
Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes

Consistently ranked within the top 10 UK marathons, the Milton Keynes Marathon started in 2012 with 4,400 participants. The race is typically held over a weekend in either late April or early May, and is open to around 7000 entrants every year.

Accommodation Milton Keynes

9. Edinburgh Marathon

Edinburgh city centre from Calton Hill
Edinburgh city centre from Calton Hill

The Edinburgh Marathon was established in 2003. Scotland’s largest running festival, the 2017 event attracted a whopping 30,000 runners from across the globe!

The 2018 event is set to take place as part of a clutch of events including a 10K run, a 5K run and various children’s races over the weekend of the 26th and 27th May.

Accommodation Edinburgh

10. Leicester Marathon

Leicester England town square
Leicester town square

There are typically 5,000 places up for grabs for participants wishing to enjoy a race through the heart of Leicester and the beautiful surrounding countryside.

As if that weren’t tempting enough, it’s the ideal race for registration procrastinators, as you can register right up until a few days before the race in October. You’ll want to get in early though for the cheapest prices: it costs £30 to register in the summer, rising to £50 in the days leading up to the race.

Accommodation Leicester

Please note: The number of entries or participants for every different marathon event can very depending on various different factors, and does vary from year to year. For more accurate information please contact the different organizations directly.