16 most challenging runs to take on in Gloucestershire this year

From hill climbs and trail running challenges to half marathons, ultras and triathlons, discover 16 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 most challenging runs in 2024.

From brutal tests of stamina and endurance to epic obstacle runs, sign up for a new challenge in 2024 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.

The Mayhill Massacre

Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 February 2024

Ominously but aptly named, sign up for the Mayhill Massacre for a vertical challenge that takes competitors through eight miles of cross-country terrain to the top of May Hill, almost 300 metres above sea level.

Hardcore trail runners can push themselves further to complete the 16-mile Mayhill 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 Dursley Dozen

Sunday 18 February 2024

The 34th annual 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 climbing; sprint through woodland and across open country; with plenty of mud to squelch through and occasional road running for some underfoot relief, too.

Forest of Dean Spring Trails and Autumn Half Marathons

Sunday 24 March and Sunday 29 September 2024

Both organised by the Royal Forest of Dean Rotary Club, but following different courses, there are two chances to run a half marathon in the Forest of Dean in 2024.

This year's Spring Trails race — which is also an official TRA British Trail Running Championships Short Distance event — follows wide forest paths with gentle inclines; while the Autumn route is slightly hillier but 100 per cent traffic free, with no road crossings whatsoever.

Gloucester Half Marathon and 10k

Sunday 31 March 2024

A brand-new running event supporting Sue Ryder, the Gloucester Half Marathon follows a scenic route through the city centre, passing the landmark Gloucester Cathedral before heading out to the suburbs along a closed road circuit. 

Both the half marathon and 10k routes finish with a run along the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal path to the docks, with each race starting and finishing at Gloucester Park.

Stroud Trails

Sunday 12 May 2024

With a challenging mixture of hills, towpaths and disused railways, the Stroud Trails event includes four distance routes — from the mammoth 40-mile ultramarathon to the seven-mile quarter marathon, perfect for beginners.

Depending on the distance chosen, runners will climb towards Rodborough Fort, ascend Selsey Common and pass by the lakes and through the woodlands of the Toadsmoor Valley, as they navigate the scenic trails of the Stroud district.

#51Fiver Cotswold Triathlon

Sunday 19 May 2024

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

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 around 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.

Westonbirt 10k

Thursday 23 May 2024

A unique evening event, with runners starting at 7pm, this year's Westonbirt 10k offers a picturesque trail that runners of all abilities can enjoy.

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.

Cheltenham Running Festival

Sunday 16 June 2024

The Cheltenham Running Festival takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse and involves running laps of the world-famous horse racing circuit — whether you're partaking in the 5k, 10k or half marathon race.

Flat and mostly tarmacked with some sections of gravel and soft surface, the course is well-suited to new runners or racers hoping to achieve a new PB this summer.

Cotswold Way Ultra Challenge

Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June 2024

A run of epic proportions, the Cotswold Way Ultra Challenge is set to push contestants to their limits, 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. There's also 75k, 50k, 25k and — new for this year — 10k distance options for wherever you are on your trail running journey.

The Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Cotswolds

Saturday 13 July 2024

Weaving through woodland and tackling lung-busting hills, the Maverick run gives trail runners a chance to come into their own — with the Cotswolds route exploring some of the county's most picturesque villages and glorious countryside.

Set off on a 7k, 15k or 23k adventure from Sudeley Castle, following hard-packed and established trails that make the route accessible for newbie trail runners as well as seasoned pros.

Forest Warrior obstacle run

Sunday 24 July 2024

Challenge yourself on some of the toughest terrain at this year’s Forest Warrior obstacle run.

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!

Tough Mudder South West

Saturday 10 August 2024

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.

Returning to Badminton Estate this year, Tough Mudder invites Gloucestershire runners to take on obstacles such as tightropes, cage crawls, underwater tunnels and even live wires.

Run Cheltenham

Sunday 1 September 2024

Offering a series of closed-road races for runners of all abilities, Run Cheltenham gets people jogging through the Regency town — and there's always an electric atmosphere, as crowds gather to cheer them on!

Starting and finishing at Cheltenham Racecourse, the 10k and half marathon routes take in all the sights, passing through the Promenade and Pittville Park; while the community mile is the perfect introductory distance for first-timers and families.

Stroud Half Marathon

Sunday 27 October 2024

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.

The race starts and finishes on Cainscross Road, taking runners through Stonehouse and Standish before heading back towards Stroud town centre.

Apocalypse Run

Sunday 3 November 2024

With 10-miles of muddy trails and over 1,300 feet of elevation to conquer, you'll certainly feel like you've taken on the four horsemen of the apocalypse after a go at the Apocalypse Run, which starts in Stonehouse.

Finishers get to take home their choice of apocalypse-themed medal to prove their bravery, too — pick between conquest, famine, death or war! CaniCross runners are welcome as well.

The Broadway Marathon and Half Marathon

Sunday 17 November 2024

Racers and trail runners have the chance to tackle the undulating hills of the northern Cotswolds, 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.

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