The best running festivals around the world

For those who like to rock (and run), we salute you – here are the best festivals where running plays a big part in the festivities
Amazing running festivals you need to attend

You like running. Chances are you like music and fine food and drink, too. The next logical step? Check out one of the growing number of top running festivals pitching up around the world.

What could be better than joining an organised trail run first thing in the morning, listening to some talks from inspiring adventurers, chowing down on some healthy street food, maybe trying a new sport that – whisper it – isn’t running, then partying the night away before crashing out in your tent?

We’ve selected some of the best running festivals from across the globe – all you need to do is sign up for tickets when they’re available.

Love Trails Festival

The best running festivals around the world

The names of some of the guided trail runs at this popular Welsh running festival will have you drooling over your porridge: ‘Love Trails 5km At Three Cliffs Bay’, ‘Wild Trail Runners Hill Session’, ‘Run To Wine Tasting’.

It’s a festival for runners and ravers alike, with bands and DJs playing late into the night – good-time brass band Hackney Colliery Band top the bill (worth seeing for their Prodigy medley alone).

A tonne of run crews will be present to run alongside, including Run Dem Crew and We Are Daybreak, and you can sit in on talks from running heroes such as Elise Downing and Beth Pascal. There’s a big focus on wellbeing too, with plenty of mindfulness runs and meditation workshops to calm your mind.

Where: Gower Peninsula, Wales

When: 4-7 July 2019

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Utiliv Adventure Festival

The best running festivals around the world

This is a festival unlike others, mainly due to its location. The Faroe Islands are out on their own in terms of landscape – moss-covered mountains make it feel like you could well bump into Bilbo Baggins round the next corner.

You can take part in a 60km ultra-run, a marathon, half marathon or 10k in some of the most otherwordly landscapes on the planet. Legs all run-out? There’s wild swimming, hot tubs, sea kayaking and adventure talks to take part in too.

And once the sun sets the parties begin – there’s a Mikkeller bar with a grass roof serving some fine craft beer, and parties on boats. You won’t want to leave the island at the end of it.

Where: Faroe Islands

When: 4-8 September 2019

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Grand Circle Trailfest

The best running festivals around the world

Three days, three incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trails through rock formations such as Bryce Canyon and the Waterholes Slot. You’re in Grand Canyon country here, so these trail runs in the “big ditch” will be surrounded by monolithic rocks, making it feel like you’re traversing a different planet.

Each run takes place in a separate national park, so you won’t be repeating the same trails, and when you get back to camp you can get a massage, watch a film and enjoy a Navajo sunset ceremony over a few beers before getting a decent night’s sleep ready for the next day’s run.

Where: Kanub, Utah, US

When: 2-5 October 2019

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Rat Race Runstock

The best running festivals around the world

This one is all about going the distance. The festival features a 5k loop, and you pick up a different-coloured wristband each time you complete one loop, solo or as part of a team.

How far can you go? Can you make it through 16 laps to receive the coveted 80km? Unlikely when you see what some of the food vendors are grilling up onsite.

This is one of the more family-friendly festivals, with loads of events for little ones once they get bored of running laps, from a slip’n’slide and giant inflatables to zip lines and caving. With camping and glamping on site, live music and a bar, the entire family will be entertained across the whole weekend.

Where: Boughton House, Northamptonshire, England

When: 8 July 2019

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Yading Skyrunning Festival

The best running festivals around the world

Skyrunning is defined as running at high elevation as close to the clouds as possible, usually along the tops of mountains, and this festival in deepest China features some of the best skyrunning in the world. You can choose between running the vertical kilometre (as it sounds – 1km upwards, as quick as you can), a 32km skyrun or the 52km ultra skyrun (which, according to the website, is “true mountain adventure, only for the brave”).

If you’re thinking those distances seem doable, take a look at the elevation stats: you’ll be gaining 10,000ft and reaching highs of 16,000ft. Like your running with a spiritual focus? Then you’ll be pleased to know the whole event is held across three sacred peaks: Mount Chenrezig, Jampayang and Chenadorje.

Where: Yading National Park, China

When: 2020 TBC (2019 event was in May)

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RunFestFun

The best running festivals around the world

2019 saw the first year of this big-name running festival from Virgin Radio DJ Chris Evans. It features an enormous selection of running events (what else?), with everything from 2.5k fun runs to timed half marathons.

But the major draw is the big names in running and music – Steve Cram, Colin Jackson, Paula Radcliffe, Christine Ohuruogo and Jo Pavey were all involved, and musicians that played at the event included Razorlight, Reef, The Coral, Faithless and Olly Murs.

No info yet on the 2020 iteration of the massively popular festival, but you can sign up to the mailing list at the event website to get the heads up.

Where: Bowood House, Wiltshire

When: 22-24 May 2020

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River Rock

The best running festivals around the world

One of the biggest adventure festivals in the US, River Rock in Richmond covers a wide variety of sports, so you can have a go at everything from slacklining to stand-up paddleboarding and down-river paddles.

Most importantly, you’ll be glad to hear there are daily trail runs, culminating in the Bust The Banks half marathon on the final day, where you’ll be dodging tree roots and climbing rocks alongside the Richmond’s fast-flowing James River.

Where: Richmond, Virginia

When: 2020 TBC (2019 event was in May)

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Salomon Trail Running Festivals

The best running festivals around the world

Fancy a leisurely guided run with a Salomon athlete or a 50k ultra? The choice is yours at this one-day festival taking place at three UK venues across summer. There’ll be guided workshops, where you run 2-3km while getting advice on your trail-running technique, you can try out Salomon shoes and Suunto watches, stretch afterwards with a full yoga session, then refuel with food, drink and music in the evening.

Whatever you choose to do, it’ll be a day packed with tips and advice and sensational running in one of three stunning venues.

Where: Edinburgh/Peak District/Box Hill

When: 2020 TBC (The 2019 events were in May and June)

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Karkloof Classic Trail Festival

The best running festivals around the world

Primarily a mountain-biking festival, runners can get their fix at this annual event too, with plenty of options to keep you satisfied. The Saturday sees two trail run options: a 9k or 18k, then it’s the big half marathon on the Sunday. There are more than 200km of trails in the forest and plantations surrounding Karkaloof, so you know you'll be well-served for extraordinarily good running.

Then there’s all that braai (South African barbecue) and cold beers to revive you after all the hours slogging your way round the trails in the searing heat.

Where: Karkloof, South Africa

When: 2020 TBC (2019 event was in June)

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Tassie Trail Fest

The best running festivals around the world

A fun (if hamstring-testing) event in Tasmania that opens with a time trial run almost as soon as you’ve arrived on the Friday evening. The twist? The winners take $100 each.

Then there’s a full marathon or half the next day, followed by MTBing in the afternoon (if your legs are up to it) a 16km night run followed by all the Little Creatures beer you can drink and some live music.

Finish the weekend with another half marathon before hobbling to the airport to make your way home.

Where: Derby, Tasmania

When: TBC (The 2019 event was held in February)

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Buff Mountain Festival

The best running festivals around the world

Okay, so running is just one part of this frankly enormous outdoor festival in the beautiful Catalan Pyrenees, but it’s a very big part. The three day event includes sport workshops, food, concerts, MTB, yoga, bouldering, canyoning and even paragliding.

The running options top the list though, with the Buff Epic Trail series of races offering 12K, 26K, 42K and 65K distance runs across highly technical tracks, steep hills and challenging slopes. Add to that up to 5,000 metres of elevation in the longest option and you can see why they gave the race series the name.

There are also cash awards for the winners, which you may need for the evening’s festivities.

Where: Vall de Boí, Catalan Pyrenees, Spain

When: 12-14 July 2019

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Tags:   Running
Tagged   Running