An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Islands are fast becoming the go to destination for trail runners looking for inspiring places to challenge themselves. We have put together our top pick of events throughout 2020 – from 5 k to Ultra. We are looking forward to entering many of these ourselves and hope to see you out there.

January

Park Run

Date: every Saturday 0900

We love Park Run and have found several on the islands of the British Isles – don’t forget that you can walk these too. There’s twelve to choose from: Bere Island (Ireland); Orkney; Isle of Bute; Bressy, ShetlandAngleseyand Anglesey 2; Mersea Island; Sheppey Island; Southsea; Isle of WightJersey; and Guernsey

Resolution Run, Hayling Island, Hampshire

Date: 5th January, 2020

A 6 hour timed event along the old Hayling Billy Railway line and the tranquil waters of Langstone Harbour. Complete one 4.4 mile lap to qualify for the medal or continue to run further laps to achieve a 10k, half marathon, marathon, ultra-distance or something in between, it’s up to you. More info here

February

Portland Coastal Marathon, Dorset

Date:  2nd February, 2020

Run the whole island (well it’s nearly an island) past a the imposing buildings of the Victorian borstal, a prison within the historic Verne Citadal, iconic lighthouse and stone quarries. The route is full of lashing waves, awesome views, mud, cliffs, gnarly descents and slogging ascents (2400 ish feet). Not that you’ll have the time but Portland is one of our favourites for crab sandwiches. Just saying. More info here

Chichester Harbour Race around Thorney Island

Date: 8th February, 2020

An amazing trail route around Thorney Island taking in stunning views of Chichester Harbour and its spectacular wildlife. You’ll need to pass through an MoD security gate to access one of the south coast’s best kept secrets. Various distances. More info here

March

Run to the Sea, Ringwood, Hampshire

Date:28th March, 2020

From Ringwood to Hengistbury Head (well almost an island) along the stunning scenery of the coast of southern Britain. Uses trails and a  railway path through lush forestry and tranquil woodlands to reach Holes Bay and Poole Harbour for great views over Brownsea Island before running along Bournemouth’s vast promenade for the final 15km to Hengistbury Head. More info here

April

Ultra Tour of Arran, Scotland

Date: 4/5th April, 2020

Run around ‘Scotland in miniature’. From dense forests and coastal scenery in the south to crumbling castles and dramatic mountains in the north, the Isle of Arran delights at every turn. This is a 2 day off-road running adventure. More info here

Peel Hill Race, Isle of Man

Date: 11th April

One for fell-runners with two steep climbs on the 4 mile route. Tradition for many is to run back to Douglas – a distance of around 11 miles taking in a few of the local pubs on route! More info here

Manx Mountain Marathon, Isle of Man

Date: 11th April

Run from the island’s northern fells to the stunning cliffs of the south with 2500m of climbing over the route. More info here

May

Isle of Wight Challenge 

Date: 2/3rd May, 2020

An awesome 106 km around the whole coastal path of the island. It can be walked or run depending what you’re up for. What a great way to see one of the most popular islands in Britain. More info here

Race the Tide, Burgh Island, Devon

Date: 10th May

There’s nothing like making your legs go faster than an incoming tide. This marathon has two estuary crossings, one at Burgh Island and the final one racing The Tide at 19.9 miles over the Erme Estuary before finishing at Mothecombe. More info here

Race the Sun, Isle of Man

Date:16th May, 2020

A relay race that starts at sunrise and the 100-mile lap of the island must be completed before the sun sets. It’s held a month before the longest day, so there is that bit more of a challenge! More info here

Skye Trail Ultra, Isle of Skye

Date: 30-31st May, 2020

This is our home turf and we can vouch for this being a simply breathtaking north to south route passing through some of the finest mountain ranges and coastal trails in the UK. More info here

June

The Tsunami Ocean Trail, North Devon/Cornwall

Date: 19/20th June, 2020.

75 miles, 24 hours max, 5000m of ascent passing the iconic coastal villages of Hartland Quay, Clovelly and Morwenstow. Boom. More info here

Round the Island All Terrain Race, Mersea Island

Date: 28th June, 2020

A flat 13 miles around the coastal circuit of the island with plenty to see along the way. If you want to celebrate afterwards the seafood at The Company Shed is awesome and the island has its own vineyard and brewery. Say no more. More info here

July

Glamaig Hill Race, Isle of Skye

Date: 4th July, 2020

Start from the iconic Sligachan Inn and run up and down the steep scree slopes of Glamaig to get back in time for beer. It’s bonkers but you’ve got to try it once. More info here

St Magnus Marathon, Orkney

Date: 5th

We don’t normally like road runs but this is an exception because we love Orkney. Run Britain’s most northerly marathon from St Magnus Cathedral then around the north-west corner of the island towards Birsay (a tidal island worth visiting in itself). More info here

St Cuthburt’s Ultra, Scottish Borders to Lindisfarne

Date: 11th July

A Race Against the Tide that bridges the national borders between Scotland and England. The race starts at Melrose and finishes at Holy Island where you’ll need to catch the tide to cross the sands in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims. More info here

Round the Rock Ultra, Jersey

Date: 8th August, 2020

Voted the 4th best Trail Race in the UK this trail run/tarmac route hugs the coast of Jersey and is a spectacle of beautiful scenery and great wildlife. There’s a whole load more to do on Jersey and the other Channel Isnads to make this one well worth the travelling effort. More info here

September

Tiree Ultramarathon 

Date: 6th September, 2020

Tiree’s coastline is rugged, beautifully carved, and adorned with long stretches of firm sandy beach. The race around the complete circumference takes in 35 miles of the finest Hebridean scenery – I can vouch for this having walked it all. More info here

Ramsey 3 peaks, Pembrokeshire

Date: 12th September, 2020

Jump on a boat with your fellow runners and spend the day on this fabulous wildlife island. The route is approximately 4 miles and consists of trail, paths and climbs to take in this island’s 3 peaks with 720ft of ascent. It’s the most westerly race in Wales and on the RSPB-owned island. The bird life here is incredible, watch out for dolphins and porpoise, hundreds of seals and the elusive white ponies. If that doesn’t slow you down the stunning views will. More info here

October

Gower Ultra, South Wales

Date: 17th October, 2020

A run along dramatic cliffs and viewpoints of the coastal path with stunning views across Rhossili Bay to the tidal island of Worm’s Head and the Mumbles on Swansea Bay. More info here

November

Durrel Dash, Jersey

Date: 1st November, 2020

Not many races start and end in a zoo and raises funds for gorillas! You have to do it really. More info here

December

Santa Dash anywhere in the British Isles

There are loads of festive runs around the British Isles throughout December. The added bonus is that you can dress up as Santa. Find one near you here

Photo Credit Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Hope this inspires you to take on an island trail running event. We’d love to know your favourite island runs so do drop us a line. Charlie has just got into the CCC (part of the UTMB) so we’ll be looking for more training routes.

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