16 of the most extreme Gloucestershire runs

From hill climbs and obstacle courses to marathons and triathlons, discover 16 of the most fierce and fun extreme races, mud runs and fitness challenges in Gloucestershire.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
Take on tough terrain, demanding distances and test your strength and stamina with Gloucestershires extreme runs.
Take on tough terrain, demanding distances and test your strength and stamina with Gloucestershire’s extreme runs.

From brutal tests of stamina and endurance to epic obstacle runs, sign up for a new challenge in 2021, with many of Gloucestershire’s extreme runs taking place throughout the year.

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or simply stuck in a lockdown slump, anyone can grab some running shoes and start training for one of the county’s most exciting races, with novice runners, seasoned pros and, sometimes, even dogs welcome to take part.

1. Run the Gloucester Marathon in Gloucester

Testing even the fittest of runners, Gloucester Marathon will return on Sunday 1 August 2021 to challenge contestants as they make their way around the gruelling 26.2-mile course.

The route starts in Quedgeley, and will also offer half marathon and 50k options for those who don’t want to tackle the full distance.

2. Run the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Race in the Cotswolds

Explore the glorious Cotswolds Hills with a choice of three distances from 7k to a remarkable 23k at the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Race, taking place on Saturday 13 March 2021.

Starting at Sudeley Castle, trail runners will be in their element as they weave through woodland and hike up the steepest hills, tackling some of the Cotswolds’ most famous routes.

3. Run the Forest Warrior obstacle run in the Forest of Dean

Challenge yourself on some of the toughest terrain at this year’s Forest Warrior obstacle run, planned for Sunday 18 July 2021.

Featuring Tarzan swings, scramble nets and high walls, this 10k route around Huntley Estate in the Forest of Dean is not for the fainthearted, with steep hills, natural obstacles and plenty of mud thrown in for good measure.

4. Run the Westonbirt 10k at Westonbirt Arboretum

Look no further than the Westonbirt 10k for a picturesque trail that runners of all abilities can enjoy on Saturday 22 May 2021.

Racers will compete along the greenest of courses, dashing through the arboretum’s renowned collection of trees in spring bloom. What’s more, all proceeds go straight back into the conservation of the beautiful Cotswold attraction.

Please note, as the event was postponed in 2020, places for the Westonbirt 10k are now sold out.

5. Run the #51Fiver Cotswold Standard Triathlon at Cotswold Water Park

Cotswold Water Park is hosting the #51Fiver, a standard distance triathlon which will see competitors swimming, cycling and sprinting for gold on Sunday 16 May 2021.

The race begins with a 1,500m swim, followed by a 40k bike route through the surrounding villages, and a three-lap running course around two onsite lakes. Anyone can take on the tournament, whether they’re new to the multisport challenge or a veteran triathlete seeking a new personal best.

6. Run the Muddy Dog Challenge in Cheltenham

Team up with your pooch and take on the Muddy Dog Challenge, attempting a canine-friendly obstacle run at Stowell Park Estate near Cheltenham on Saturday 19 June 2021.

From enthusiastic athletes to dog lovers looking for a fun day out, everyone is welcome to take part to raise funds for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. The course covers shorter distances of 2.5k and 5k, and is designed for competitors with four-legged friends, featuring ball pits, muddy pools and water to wade through.

7. Run the HEINEKEN Race to the Tower in the Cotswolds

Traverse through the Cotswolds in this ultra-race from Stroud to Broadway Tower, the area’s highest landmark, taking place on Saturday 5 June 2021.

The double marathon challenge takes racers on a tour of Gloucestershire’s finest, with route highlights including Sudeley Castle; the peculiar Devil’s Chimney near Cheltenham; and the iconic Cheese rolling spot, Cooper’s Hill.

8. Run the Cheltenham Challenge in Cheltenham

Fitness fanatics and budding runners alike can push themselves to the limit at the Cheltenham Challenge with 5k, 10k and a half marathon all on offer this spring.

Taking place on Sunday 23 May 2021, all races begin at Cheltenham Racecourse and loop back across the scenic Cotswold Way, with multi-terrain challenges along the way.

9. Run the Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon

Get training for the Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon, taking place on Sunday 21 March 2021. Please note, entry to this event is temporarily suspended due to the national rise in Coronavirus cases.

At just over 13 miles, the circular route starts at The Speech House Hotel and takes runners along forest trails, across mixed terrain and through local sites, including Beechenhurst and Cannop Ponds, before crossing the finish line.

10. Run the May Hill Summer Solstice in the Forest of Dean

For a lung-busting vertical challenge that takes competitors through six miles of gorgeous woodland and almost 300 metres above sea level, sign up for the May Hill Summer Solstice on Monday 21 June 2021.

As the action kicks off at 7pm, race to the top of May Hill to catch the sun setting over Gloucestershire and beyond. With the promise of a hearty hog roast and bar refreshments for all runners, too.

11. Run The Cotswold Way Challenge in the Cotswolds

A run of epic proportions, The Cotswold Way Challenge is set to push contestants to their limits on Saturday 26 to Sunday 27 June 2021, with a gruelling 100k trail through the picture-perfect Cotswolds.

With a choice of walking, jogging or running, this ambitious route will start and finish in Cirencester, looping through the countryside via Wotton-Under-Edge.

12. Run the Tewkesbury Half Marathon in Tewkesbury

Put your running skills to the test by taking on the Tewkesbury Half Marathon, a 13.1-miler planned for Sunday 16 May 2021.

Starting at Tewkesbury Leisure Centre, the race will take competitors through the town and surrounding area, with a medal for everyone that crosses through the finish line at the historic high street.

13. Run the Relay for Life Cirencester in South Cerney

This 24-hour charity race will take place on Saturday 24 July 2021, in support of Cancer Research UK. Please note, the date is subject to change due to the Coronavirus situation.

Competing teams will take turns running through the day and into the night, as part of the weekend-long festival – with music, food and family-fun entertainment for those who prefer to watch the action unfold.

14. Run the Tough Mudder race at Badminton Estate

Featuring some of the highest climbs and deepest mud pits, the international Tough Mudder endurance race will test entrants’ skill, determination and sanity, with routes spanning five challenging kilometres to 10 long miles.

Tough Mudder will be returning to Badminton Estate on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 August 2021, inviting Gloucestershire runners to take on obstacles such as tightropes; cage crawling; underwater tunnels; and even live wires.

15. Run The Castle 365 Run at Chepstow Castle

Runners can take part in The Castle 265 Run, a six and a half to seven-mile challenge starting at Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire, on Sunday 28 March 2021.

An uphill route, participants will encounter the Giant’s Cave before tackling 365 steps up to the Eagle’s Nest viewpoint, where they will be rewarded with spectacular views over the Wye Valley – before hitting the road back towards the castle.

16. Run at the Cheltenham Running Festival in Cheltenham

Grab your running shoes and take part in the Cheltenham Running Festival, happening at Cheltenham Racecourse on Sunday 13 June 2021.

With options to partake in 5k, 10k, or half marathon runs, it really is a great opportunity to reach those fitness goals. The entire course involves running laps of the racecourse, where racers can take in the beautiful Cotswold scenery.

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