As ultrarunning has gained momentum over the past decade, we are seeing more people from different backgrounds come together to push their bodies and immerse themselves in the community.
Ultrarunning festivals are not a new concept, but with the growing rate of the community, we see more athletes choosing to spend several days exploring, listening to professionals, learning and having fun.
Let’s take a look at some of the Festivals out there…
Hope Cove, Devon
8-10 September 2023
Something Wild is an annual running festival in Devon that inspires families to come and take part in its huge array of fantastic events.
“We wanted to build a place where families could come and experience the beautiful backdrop of the South West,” said Race Director Ceri. “We offer everything from 5km to 50km races during the day across the beautiful South West coastline.”
“We have races organised for the kids, with qualified leaders. Local food vendors are on-site, drinks bars and a speaker’s evening. We also offer musical entertainment, films, games and a wild swim.”
“We have a range of food tents, including vegan options. There’s truly something for everyone here and we love people getting involved and trying things they may never have done before.”
“I think we offer a festival that is perfect for runners and their families to come together and experience Hope Cove and the wonderful running community we have here.”
The Summit Wild Ultra is taking place on Sunday 10th September.
Runners start out from the festival site in Hope Cove and follow the South West Coast Path to the turnaround point at South Sands beach (Salcombe). Runners return via Aveton Gifford, Bantam and the Avon estuary, completing a loop of the official 10k route before finishing at the festival field.
For more information click here.
Gower Peninsular, South Wales
6-9 July 2023
Love Trails is a trail-running festival held in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales. The festival follows a whole programme of guided trail runs, anything from 3km up to 55km (including the Camino Love Ultra 50k) outdoor activities like surfing, paddleboarding, paragliding and inspirational talks from pro athletes all over the world, great live music and DJs as well.
Head of Delivery, Sarah Pritchard said: “We’re all about non-competitive elements. So nothing at Love Trails Festival is chip timed. We’re not bothered about personal bests, we really strive to remain inclusive. So at the festival, it’s not about races, it’s not about competitive times.
“All of our runs are either guided trail runs by our run leaders or they’re self-exploratory, so people can go off at their own pace for the whole weekend. It really does set itself as inclusive and supportive.”
She continued: “There’s definitely been an increase in the sort of fitness and well-being festivals, especially in the UK, and then that element of running. I think people now are just looking for something beyond a typical running experience or a typical music festival.
“People want to take their kind of physical endurance maybe to the next level. They’re looking for that physical and mental challenge. They want to push their limits. We’re also seeing a rise in people that want to develop their personal goals maybe or do something that they might want to achieve.”
In the past, Love Trails has included speakers like Nicky Spinks, Matthew Blanchard and Marianne Hogan.
“It really is like a labour of love from our small team, like, all year round. And I think people really get a feel for that as soon as they buy a ticket, pretty much, and we take that right through to the festivals. There is a massive sense of community when people arrive on site, and it’s a supportive space, and people come on their own and leave with loads of friends.”
Keswick Mountain Festival
Keswick, Lake District
17-19 May 2024
The Keswick Mountain Festival occurs annually in the beautiful Lake District in the North of England.
This year’s event takes part between the 19th and 21st of May, and there are many events throughout the weekend to get stuck into. The KMF collaborates with Adidas X Terrex, enabling runners to trial some Adidas Terrex trainers and apparel. There will also be stalls serving coffee and beer throughout the weekend, and if you want to unwind, yoga sessions are available.
The main events, however, are the trail runs. Throughout the weekend, there are four different races of different lengths. Starting at 5k, going to 10k before a half marathon and also the ultra trail race of 50k.
KMF has described their ultra as “The KMF 50km ultra-marathon is fast becoming a classic in the calendar of ultra running enthusiasts; this fantastic course takes in some of the best trails and views that the Watendlath, Borrowdale, Butteremere and Newlands valleys have to offer. You don’t need to be an elite runner to complete the course, but make sure you have done the training required, as it can be a tough day out.”
The Keswick Tourism Association originally launched the festival due to lots of different companies in the local area putting on events, so they pulled them together under an umbrella brand with the main goal of attracting tourists to the town of Keswick.
“Where we are based, the backdrop is simply incredible. There are so many different valleys, and so we wanted as many routes to go through them as possible. We made sure our half marathon went through the hidden valley.
“We want people to experience different valley locations, and especially for the 50k route, we want it to be mindblowing, it goes over four different valleys, and there are varied and add a bit of flair.”
Hope Trail Festival
Newnham Park, Plymouth
7-9 July 2023
Hope Trail Festival, organised by GB Ultras, is a fantastic community event with free camping that helps runners experience a multi-day event.
With options from 12, 24 and 36 hours, solo racers or teams can see how many laps of the 5 mile course they can complete in their chosen time.
Race Director Wayne Drinkwater said: “We wanted to offer people a chance to experience a 24-hour event with the comfort and support they need for such an endeavour. The Hope Trail Festival is an amazing way for racers to challenge themselves at a timed event.
“With three options and a fantastic atmosphere throughout, we believe racers have the chance to push their limits and take this opportunity to see their progression, all the while making new friends and bonding with the racers around them.
“Newnham Park is a historic place with so much beauty. We offer kids trail races and places for families to camp and enjoy their surroundings. It’s a wonderful July weekend in a beautiful Historic area.”
Following the pandemic, many people are looking for more adventure in their lives, whether that be abroad or in their own backyard. Running festivals give the chance for people to explore and strengthen not only themselves but create amazing memories with their families and friends.
This summer offers an incredible collection of running festivals that will inspire you and hopefully make you appreciate the beauty we have here in the UK, offering exceptional experiences and a newfound love for the ultrarunning community.
Written by Emily Yarwood
Do you need some help in choosing the right gear to take with you to a running festival, then read our brand new Feature below…