1. Welsh 1000m Peaks Race
When: 3 June
Sign up: welsh1000m.org
Fear factor: 5/5
The full Welsh 1000m Peaks Race starts at the seaside village of Abergwyngregyn and climbs and climbs and climbs a bit more over its 21 miles, to take in all five of Wales’ 1000m-high peaks, finishing at the top of the highest of them all, Snowdon. It’s about the toughest fell race there is and nav skills are expected. There are shorter versions however, such as the seven-mile Short Fell Race and a relay option.
“The Welsh 1000m Peaks Race is ace,” says GB ultra-trail runner Lizzie Wraith, who’s raced it several times. “You get to halfway and you’re already totally f**ked. And you invariably get totally disoriented and lost in the clag on the Glyders. But get to the top of Snowdon and all the blood, sweat and tears are totally worth it. Then, with legs like jelly, you realise you still have to get down…”
2. Wansfell 10km Trail Race
When: 24 September
Fear factor: 2/5
This new trail race is the perfect combination of fell running and trail running. The terrain is indubitably Lakeland fells. But the course is fully marked and marshalled. It starts with a lung-torching, lactic-acid overdose, mad-dash from Ambleside (Lake District), up Wansfell Pike. There, you get a rest of sorts as the terrain levels out briefly, before a tough climb up Wansfell proper (a Wainwright). The first descent takes you back towards Wansfell Pike on an alternative route; then comes “one of the best descents in the Lakes”, before some beautiful woodland you’ll be far too knackered to really appreciate. Before following the route of the Lakeland 100/50 ultramarathon back to the start.
As it’s part of Ambleside’s Festival of the Fells, there’s plenty for the family to do – a great way to sneak your race in, while they’re happily occupied. Last year none other than fell-running legend Joss Naylor was at the start line.
3. Keswick Mountain Festival Trail Races
When: 10-11 June
Sign up: keswickmountainfestival.co.uk
Fear factor: 1-3/5
And now for something a little less pant-wetting. “The KMF weekend race series is perfect for trail runners – experienced or not – with a passion for being in the outdoors,” says race director and elite mountain runner Charlie Sproson. There are four race-distance options, from 5K to 50K via 10K and 25K, all on well-marked trails, a mixture of wide-open paths, steady ascents, singletrack through woods, open valleys, hidden valleys, mountain vistas, bluebell woodland trails, and fast lowland running. “There’s even a traditional Lakeland boat launch to the start of the 10K,” says Sproson. “And music – including KT Tunstall and Cast – over night at Crow Park and so many things for the family to do while you’re running.” Indeed, the popular festival includes reams of outdoor activities, films, speakers, camping and much else besides.
4. Scafell Sky Race
When: 16 July
Fear factor: 4/5
What is skyrunning? In a nutshell, it’s a combination of running and mountaineering. That doesn’t mean you have to carry a lot of rope and frostbite is mandatory. Rather, it’ll take you to the top of a mountain, and if there’s a bit of gnarly ridge to go along rather than a nice easy path, it’ll take you along the former.
The little sister of the fearsome Lakes Sky Ultra (56K), the new Scafell Sky Race (40K) is entry-level Skyrunning and the race promises technical terrain (i.e. you’ll need to watch where you put your feet). “If you’re looking to get yourself into the UK’s Skyrunning scene, this little puppy has it all,” says race director Charlie Sproson. A linear course from Seathwaite to Ambleside takes in “some of the best singletrack trails the Lake District has to offer, while summiting Scafell Pike along the way. At 2,700m in ascent, it’s not a bad jaunt over the central Lakeland fells.”