Running: Bhutan's Beautiful Marathon (& The UK's Most Picturesque Runs)
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Running: Bhutan’s Beautiful Marathon (& The UK’s Most Picturesque Runs)

Bhutan's challenging ultra-marathon 'The Snowman Race' will draw attention to climate change

Fancy a trip to Bhutan? Runners, you’re in luck. The Himalayan nation is set to host its first ultra-marathon, a 222 kilometre behemoth and considered one of the world’s most challenging runs. It is being hosted in an effort to raise money for climate change. Here’s everything you need to know – plus, the UK‘s most scenic marathons for those looking for a run with a view a little closer to home.

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

The Snowman Race: Bhutan’s New Ultra-Marathon

If you’ve ever fancied trekking across the Himalayas, Bhutan is offering a new way to do it: an ultra-marathon following the Snowman Trek. The historic Snowman Trek, extending from Laya to the high Bhutanese Himalayas, is one of the most difficult trails in the world, completed by fewer people than the Mount Everest trail.

Valley in Bhutan near Punakha with rice fields and typical houses. Travel to Bhutan and enjoy the beautiful landscape of farms and mountains in this buddhist country.

Bhutan Valley (c) Getty.

This October (13–17), the inaugural, five-day endurance extravaganza will take pace in an effort to raise awareness for climate change. Across the trail – which usually takes 20 days to walk – 31 participants will traverse 222 kilometres, including some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems that will be negatively impacted by climate change. The new Snowman Race is inspired by the King of Bhutan’s agenda for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, aiming to shine a global spotlight on the climate crisis and highlighting the urgent need for action on a global and local scale.

Surpassing Nepal’s Everest Marathon, The Snowman Race will be the world’s highest run, with runners reaching heights of 5,470 metres above sea level. Beginning in Gasa, runners will traverse Lunana’s breathtaking glaciers, one of Bhutan’s most remote areas. Then, over to the base of Gangkhar Puesum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain and Bhutan’s tallest peak, before reaching Gophula’s lofty heights and a descent into the valley of Bumthang for the finish line. 

Fancy something a little closer to home?

The UK’s Most Scenic Marathons

Even if the UK is yet to launch its own climate crisis marathon, there’s nothing stopping marathoners running for an eco cause. If you prefer your runs with a view, performance footwear brand HOKA have researched into the UK’s most picturesque marathons…

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Bournemouth is a coastal resort town in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council area of Dorset, England.

10. Bournemouth Marathon

Starting in Kings Park and then moving onto the seafront, Bournemouth Marathon gives participants the opportunity to run along both the Boscombe and Bournemouth piers, finishing in Lower Gardens. 

When? 9 October 2022

Entry Fee: £40.50


9. Newport Marathon

Passing four iconic landmarks, this small Welsh run – one of the UK’s flattest – starts in Gent Wildlife Trust’s Magor Marsh, passes through picturesque mediaeval villages, and finishes at Newport Transporter Bridge Visitor Centre.

When? 16 April 2023

Entry Fee: £15


Panoramic view of the Belfast's harbor

8. Belfast Marathon

This picturesque trail in Northern Ireland’s biggest city passes five well-known landmarks, including Greenville Park, St Anne’s Cathedral and the Albert Memorial Clock.

When? 30 April 2023

Entry Fee: £55


Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness Scotland Highlands on A82

7. Loch Ness Marathon

This beautiful Scottish marathon passes nine iconic locations – though the entire route is extremely picturesque. Stretching into the Highlands, views of Loch Ness to Ness Islands and Bught Park Pitches, this is a marathon across different terrains that considerably tests endurance.

When? 1 October 2023

Entry Fee: £54


The landscape around city of York and York Minster, United Kingdom

6. Yorkshire Marathon

Running past iconic destinations like the University of York, York Minster, the Northwood Trail and Stamford Bridge, the Yorkshire Marathon sees 10,000 entrants every year.

When? 16 October 2022

Entry Fee: £58


Aerial view of Richmond bridge at sunset time, London, UK

5. Richmond Marathon

Typically occurring in early spring and welcoming a minute 1,500 participants, Richmond Marathon runners pass eleven landmarks, including the Pagoda, Richmond Lock, Richmond Bridge, Bushy Park and Ham House – and, if they’re lucky, a few deers, too.

When? 9 October 2022

Entry Fee: £52


The Edinburgh cityscape, including the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle, seen from Arthur's Seat on a sunny summer's day, with Salisbury Crags and Holyrood Park in the foreground.

4. Edinburgh Marathon

Enjoying a route across Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park and ending by the sea, Edinburgh Marathon typically takes place in April, welcoming up to 16,000 participants.

When? 28 May 2023

Entry Fee: £64


i360 and West Pier Brighton

3. Brighton Marathon

This popular marathon passes five iconic landmarks, including Preston Park, Brighton Marina and the beautiful and symbolic Brighton Pier. Seaside lovers, this one’s for you.

When? 2 April 2023

Entry Fee: £65


Aerial view of Manchester city in UK on a beautiful sunny day.

2. Manchester Marathon

With eight iconic landmarks across the route and up to 25,000 participants, Manchester Marathon runners will enjoy cityscape views of Manchester Opera House, Old Trafford and St John’s Park.

When? 16 April 2023

Entry Fee: £55


St Paul's Cathedral

1. London Marathon

An iconic city with an iconic run: 40,000 participants run past eight of the capital’s most iconic sights, including Canary Wharf, St Paul’s Cathedral, along the Thames, the London Eye and The Shard. 

When? 23 April 2023

Entry Fee: £47


Featured Image: Chele La Pass, Paro, Bhutan (c) Getty.