13 of Gloucestershire's most challenging runs to take on this year

From hill climbs and trail running challenges to half marathons and triathlons, discover 13 of the most fierce and fun extreme races and runs to sign up for in Gloucestershire.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
Take on tough terrain, demanding distances and test your strength and stamina with Gloucestershire’s 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 2023 and take on one of Gloucestershire’s most extreme running events.

Whether you’re looking to push yourself to raise money for charity or are already a fitness fanatic, 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.

Run Cheltenham

Offering a series of closed-road races for runners of all abilities, Run Cheltenham will get people jogging through the Regency town on Sunday 3 September 2023, in support of the event's headline charity partner, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.

Starting and finishing at Cheltenham Racecourse, the 10k and half marathon routes are fairly flat, making them ideal for beginners and giving pro runners a good chance of achieving a new personal best; while the community mile is the perfect introductory distance for first-timers and families.

Stroud Half Marathon

While the route isn't quite flat, Stroud Half Marathon is a great choice for novice and recreational runners, as well as seasoned racers looking to shave some time off their current record.

This year, the race is taking place on Sunday 29 October 2023, starting and finishing on Cainscross Road.

The Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Races

Weaving through woodland and tackling lung-busting hills, trail runners will be in their element in 2023, with Maverick runs to complete in both the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds.

Run through Gloucestershire's ancient forest with a choice of three distances from 7k to a remarkable 23k at the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Forest of Dean race on Saturday 24 June; or set off on an 8k, 15k or 23k adventure from Sudeley Castle, exploring some of the county's most picturesque villages and glorious countryside during the Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Cotswolds race on Saturday 8 July 2023. 

Forest Warrior obstacle run

Challenge yourself on some of the toughest terrain at this year’s Forest Warrior obstacle run, planned for Sunday 16 July 2023.

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.

Westonbirt 10k

Look no further than the Westonbirt 10k for a picturesque trail that runners of all abilities can enjoy on Thursday 18 May 2023.

Racers will compete along the greenest of courses, dashing through Westonbirt Arboretum’s renowned collection of trees in spring bloom. What’s more, all proceeds go straight back into the conservation of the nation's woods and forests.

Forest of Dean Spring Trails and Autumn Half Marathons

Get training for the Forest of Dean Spring Trails Half Marathon, taking place on Sunday 2 April 2023, for an enjoyable run along wide forest trails with gentle inclines to get your heart rate up.

Later on in the year on Sunday 24 September 2023, take on the slightly hillier Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon, following a different route through the ancient trees that is 100 per cent traffic-free and involves no road crossings whatsoever.

Cheltenham Running Festival

Grab your running shoes and take part in the Cheltenham Running Festival, happening at Cheltenham Racecourse on Sunday 11 June 2023.

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.

The May Hill Massacre

For a vertical challenge that takes competitors through eight miles of cross-country terrain and almost 300 metres above sea level, sign up for the May Hill Massacre on Saturday 4 or Sunday 5 February 2023.

Hardcore trail runners can push themselves further to complete the 16-mile May Hill Mayhem challenge, which is two laps of the gruelling route; while canicross runners and their four-legged friends can get in on the action, too.

The Cotswold Way Challenge

A run of epic proportions, the Cotswold Way Challenge is set to push contestants to their limits on Saturday 24 to Sunday 25 June 2023, 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.

Tough Mudder South West

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 almost 10 long miles.

Tough Mudder will be returning to Badminton Estate on Saturday 12 August 2023, inviting Gloucestershire runners to take on obstacles such as tightropes, cage crawls, underwater tunnels and even live wires.

The Broadway Marathon and Half Marathon

Racers and trail runners have the chance to tackle the undulating hills of the northern Cotswolds on Sunday 19 November 2023, when the annual Broadway Marathon and Half Marathon event returns.

Whether you're completing the half or going the full distance, there's a good chance of getting very muddy while navigating the route's cross-country terrain, passing iconic vistas like Broadway Tower along the way.

The Dursley Dozen

With a brand-new course for Sunday 26 February 2023, the Dursley Dozen run promises to be just as tough as – if not tougher than – before, with 12 miles of multi-terrain to cross before you reach the finish line.

Test your endurance running over hillsides, with almost 2,000 feet of climb and descent; sprint through woodland and across open country; with plenty of mud to squelch through and occasional road running for some underfoot relief, too.

#51Fiver Cotswold Triathlon

Cotswold Water Park is hosting the #51Fiver, a standard distance triathlon which will see competitors swimming, cycling and sprinting for gold on Sunday 21 May 2023.

The race begins with a 1,500 metre swim in Lake 32, followed by a 40k bike route through the surrounding villages, and a flat 10k run through the local area. Anyone can take on the tournament, whether they’re new to the multisport challenge or a veteran triathlete seeking a new personal best.

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