Commit to fit: 2021 events to train for now
On your marks, get set, and go! Fancy challenging yourself this year? Then you could do a lot worse than booking yourself onto these Bucks and Oxon races and triathlons. Dig out your trainers and dig deep.
Struggling to find the motivation to honour a new year’s fitness resolution? I hear ya, sister. The days may be short and cold at the minute, and the lockdown sofa is singing its siren song, but a bit of forward-thinking could pay serious dividends once the summer shuffles into view. From running queens to absolute beginners, there’s something for everyone in our list of local country and city races and triathlons so get those trainers on and those legs pumping. Remember: June is only 19 weeks away. Let’s do this!
When: 17 April
What to expect: A picturesque beginner-friendly event that will take you through footpaths and bridleways around the village of Shutford, including some ancient road past Madmarston Hill.
When: 15 + 16 May
£: £62 / £93
What to expect: Let’s get truly muddy! This is a hilarious and literally filthy adventure which will see you iced, walking a tightrope, and sweating buckets in this test of both mind and body. You’ve got the option of either a 10k classic or a more beginner-friendly 5k. Both promise a loop of mud-soaked mayhem packed full of obstacles.
Little Welly, Henley
When: 12 + 13 June
£: £16 / £27
What to expect: One for the kids to get stuck into, this is the UK’s biggest obstacle course for children. Packed with fun challenges like the foam run, climbing walls, and The Big Slide, this 3km route is sure to get them having fun and being active. With live music and plenty of refuel options, this is a proper day out. Fancy something a bit more classic? Sign up to the 5km or 10km family trail run.
When: 11 July
£: £60 – £75
What to expect: Taking place for the twelfth year in a row, this triathlon is based at Henley Leisure Centre and within the grounds of Gillotts School. Starting from 8am, there is a rapid swim in the heated indoor pool, a bike course through Oxfordshire countryside, and a flat grass run through the school grounds. Tackle a 400km swim, 25k cycle, and 5k run, or stick with the 200m swim, 12.5k cycle, and 2.5k run.
Conquer the Chilterns, Henley
When: 28 + 29 Aug
£: £35 – £110
What to expect: Show the Chilterns who’s boss with this fantastic and scenic course around the Chiltern Valley and the banks of the River Thames. The cycle and run both involve climbing some serious hills but the beautiful views and breezy downhill cycle of almost five miles through the Stonor Valley should sweeten the deal.
When: 11 Sep, enter ballot now
What to expect: Set to the stunning backdrop of UNESCO World Heritage Site Blenheim Palace, this triathlon kicks off with a beginner-friendly swim in the lake, followed by a bike ride across undulating scenery and finishing with a tour of the parkland as you run around the Queen’s pool. Exhausting but cultural!
When: 17 Oct
£: Enter ballot now, prices to be released
What to expect: Jog on through the picturesque and winding streets of Oxford, spurred on by live entertainment. You’ll start in the city centre and pass through Old Marston village, the River Cherwell, Oxford University’s impressive Lady Margaret Hall, and end up on Parks Road.
When: 28 Nov
£: £20 – £25
What to expect: A few miles from Reading, this course will take you through the beautiful surroundings of the Mapledurham Estate. The courses are multi-terrain: 1 lap for 10k and 2 laps for the half marathon, with two water stations along the way.
When: 28 March
£: £20 – £37
What to expect: If you’re going to run a race, why not run along one of the oldest roads in Britain, already old when the Romans set foot upon it? Get sweaty while enjoying the ancient woodland and incredible views of the Chiltern Hills. Choose between an 8km, 14km, and 22km route.
When: 18 April
What to expect: One of the most successful venues for Team GB 2012 (in rowing, no less), this course takes you around the iconic water of Dorney Lake, near Windsor. Suitable for runners of all abilities, the route consists of flat tarmac and should have you dreaming of Olympic glory.
When: 3 May
What to expect: For seasoned runners, this 26.2 mile run takes place on a scenic route with tree-lined boulevards, lakes, parks and woodland and a spectacular stadium finish. Voted the UK’s friendliest marathon, and with all those runner’s endorphins, this one’s sure to get you smiling!
When: 23 May
£: £15 – £110
What to expect: Open to all abilities, this is a fairly flat, picturesque route across the Thames Valley. If you’re dipping your toe (sorry) into triathlons for the first time, this could be a good option as its swim course is designed to make even the weakest paddler get a fast time. The sprint route is a 750m swim, 24.5km cycle, and 5km run. The Olympic route is a 1.9km swim, 85.6km cycle, and 20km run. Phew.
When: 9 July
What to expect: Now this is an ask! Based entirely within Wendover Woods, this hefty race will see you run 10 x 10-mile laps to reach your final total of 100 miles, all on forest trails. The terrain is soft, and features smooth descents and runnable climbs, contrasted with more abrupt hills elsewhere. Only three people have ever earnt the 100 mile buckle. Could you be the fourth?
When: 1 Aug
What to expect: Nestled in 450 acres of glorious parkland, this 2012 Olympic Course site should spur you on to a new personal best. Keep it fast with a 400m swim, 10km ride, and 2.5 km run, or go long distance with a 1500m swim, 40km ride, and 10 km run.
When: 28 + 29 Aug
£: £86 / £88
What to expect: Challenge yourself to a whopping 86 miles (138km) in this continuous running event that starts at Ivinghoe Beacon, near Tring, and ends at Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire. (So not to be undertaken lightly!) Taking place along a 5,000 year old trackway, the stunning scenery should help you on your way to that (distant…) finish line.
When: 5 Sep
What to expect: A festival with an option for everyone. Choose between the gentle 5k event, the classic 10k distance race, the respectable half marathon, and the hardcore 20 miler. The courses are generally flat and well-maintained, beginning in Milton Keynes and winding out into pretty countryside.
When: 16 May
£: £32 – £42
What to expect: With amplified staggered starts, these races will have a nicely relaxed feel to them. The route is predominately public footpath, with some quiet lanes and village roads. Choose between the Half Marathon (10am start), Marathon (9am start) and 50k Ultra Marathon (8am start).
When: 1 Aug
£: Prices to be released
What to expect: Runners of all abilities are welcome on this course, taking place on private grounds over a flat smooth running surface. There is a 10km, 10 mile, Half Marathon, and Marathon option.
Woburn Abbey triathlon, Bedfordshire
When: 11 + 12 September
£: £65 – £195
What to expect: One of the UK’s most loved triathlons, this weekend promises charity fundraising, family fun, and athletic challenge, all at the iconic Woburn Abbey. Challenge yourself to a 1,900m swim, 90km bike, and 21.1km run, or sprint your way through the 750m swim, 22km bike, and 5.25km run.