The post has come and it’s not good news. You’ve been refused entry to the London marathon once again. But not all is lost. Here are seven alternative races from Fast Running.

It seems everyone applied for London Marathon next year again so getting your rejection letter means you’re in the majority. Don’t be sad though, there are plenty of other great marathons out there.

We’ve looked at some events that fall either just before, just after or on the same weekend as the London Marathon. All, barring Brighton marathon, still have open registrations and Brighton reopens later in October. 

So don’t see your London marathon rejection as a negative, but just an opportunity to try a different event in another city, country or even in the countryside.

Manchester marathon – April 2020

Entry fee – £55

The “London of the North” is how no one has ever described Manchester, but their marathon is a little earlier in the month and, in recent years, exactly the same distance too. It means you’re ready make the most of the summer that bit sooner!

The course is flat, fast and well supported. Perfect for marathoning. The organisers also claim it’s the friendliest marathoner and anyone who has visited the Greater Manchester area would agree.

Entries are still open when London Marathon rejections come out so no rush, although this may change in future years as the event grows in popularity. 

There’s even relay option for those not quite ready for the full distance but wanting to experience the marathon with family and friends.

There was also 456 runners under three hours in 2018, which is testament to how fast a course it is and how the northern club scene is producing great levels of competitive runners. 

Brighton Marathon – April 2020

Entry fee – £70 (2019 price)

Once voted the third best and third worst beach in the UK in the same survey, Brighton marathon is growing year on year. Entires will reopen soon and you can register your interest on their website.

A popular alternative to London marathon for many clubs, they even reopen entries after the London Marathon rejection letters have gone out. There’s also a mini kids race on the Saturday and a Brighton Marathon 10k on the Sunday too.

With great road and train connections to the Big Smoke and Gatwick Airport it’s an easily accessible location. The added bonus is that Brighton is a great place to visit year round with good food, a buzzing nightlife and that beach. Who doesn’t love a shingle beach?

Belfast City Marathon – May 2020

Entry fee – £40, although more expensive if you leave it until after 29th November. This year’s race was also great value for money with entrants given an extra 544m of running on a new, flatter course. Rest assured, that mistake is unlikely to happen two years in a row.

Just a short ferry or plane ride over the Irish sea and Northern Ireland’s capital has a fast and friendly marathon a couple weeks after London Marathon. It’s an affordable city break and still a good time of year for a Spring marathon.

It’s also one of the only races where you might see a chap in a Brazilian football shirt on the front of start line alongside East Africans and local club runners. This might be down to the relay option of the marathon which starts at the same time.

Like most major city marathons there’s a pacer team to help you hit your personal best and the added bonus of free photos posted on the race website afterwards.

Blackpool Marathon Festival – 26th April 2020

Entry fee – £36.50

So you like the sound of Brighton, but you’re dead set on the same weekend as London and live in the North? Look no further than the Blackpool marathon festival, organised by Flyde Coast Runners. The club actually organise a while host of great events, including plenty in the build up to your main spring event.

The festival has events from two kilometre to marathon and as it’s London marathon weekend you have a great chance of getting into the Fast Running weekend round up that weekend.

Be aware that if you need a poo during the race you better have some cash taped to your numbers as on course there ” will be ‘Danfo’ super loos that require a 30p to operate”. If only Paula had had some spare change during her marathon that time…

Richard Swindlehurst of Poole AC won the 2018 marathon in 2:41:44 and that’s no too dissimilar to his London marathon time the year before so it’s a fast course too. Hopefully the Blackpool Pleasure Beach is open for your post PB celebrations too!

Milton Keynes Marathon – May 2020

Entry fee – £46 until 31st December

Do you love roundabouts and easy public transport links to London? Then maybe Milton Keynes is your best bet for a spring marathon? A bit later in the year for those who are late starters after the excesses of New Years partying, but still a fast and enjoyable course.

It’s also a “qualifying race for the 2021 Abbott WMM Age Group World Championships!” although we’re not 100% sure what that means. Check out how it works here.

The start is in the MK stadium and you return there for a victory lap after the 26.2 miles. Maybe not for anyone who is an AFC Wimbledon fan like me…

The Three Forts Challenge – May 2020

Entry fee – £40

There’s more to running then just pounding pavements. If you’re dismayed by the difficulty of getting into London and feel like you need a change then why not hit the trails?

Yes, the Three Forts Challenge is a bit longer at 27.2 miles and there is the small matter of 3450 feet of elevation that might stop a PB, but ‘The Tough One’ is so much more than just a marathon. As of 2019 you can even run with your dog if you like.

It’s a great way to step from road marathoning into the world of trail and ultra races. This opens up a huge door to adventure and the community of the trails. Try a trail marathon next year and you might never look back.

Zurich Marathon – April 2020

Entry fee – 89-169 CHF

So you want that big city feeling and don’t mind travelling overseas. The Zurich marathon in Switzerland is the same weekend and just a short flight away.

The main positive is you can enter until the 21st April, only one week before the event. The downside is the Swiss system of a staggered pricing (the Swiss love their monies) and the week before entry comes in at 169 CHF (about £129). Early birds get a big discount but it’s still about £68.

It’s a fast course with Kenyans filling the 2018 podium in 2:14/15 times and 109 athletes under three hours it is a great place to go for your PB run. With flights and entry fee it might be an expensive trip but maybe you can surprise your other half with a “city break” and sneak the marathon in. 

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