UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024

London Marathon 2024 takes place on Sunday 21 April ‘24 but what if you didn’t get a place? Let’s talk about some great UK city alternatives to London Marathon.

48,000 runners took part in the 2023 edition and that number is set to increase making it one of the largest marathons in the world and is the big race that many of us aspire to run at least once in our lives.

Unfortunately because it’s such a great there is a massive demand and for most runners there are two main ways to get a place at London Marathon 2024: running for charity or getting a place in the annual ballot.

Whilst there are other ways to take part, the majority of runners can discount being classed as an Elite Runner, Good for Age, or getting the few places on offer to British Athletics Clubs.

It’s hard to get a ballot place

The ballot was open for a week in April 2023 and successful ballot winners will be notified on Thursday 6 July 2023. There are around 17,000 spots available in the London Marathon ballot each year, but this year a record 578,374 runners have applied for the ballot, so your odds of getting a place are less than 3%.

That’s means that for every one successful ballot entrant there will be 33 other disappointed runners.

Record ballot numbers for London Marathon 2024

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the TCS London Marathon, said: “This year’s TCS London Marathon was an amazing day, full of positivity and joy, which inspired a world record number of people to apply for the 2024 event, meaning an incredible 578,374 people will be anxiously awaiting results. We wish everyone the very best of luck.”

Charity places are hard work

London Marathon has raised more than £1 billion for good causes since it started in 1981 and work with most major charities who allocate spaces in the race in return for a guaranteed minimum fundraising amount.

Opting to run for a charity does make it easier to get a spot but the cheapest fundraising pledges start at £2,000 along with a registration fee of £50-£100.

That’s a lot of money to raise, and it can distract from your actual marathon when you really want 100% of your energy going into your training. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go down the charity route, but if you doubt you can raise £2,000 then perhaps think about running a different marathon which has smaller, more attainable, fundraising targets.

Alternative UK Marathons

Apart from the prestige of London Marathon, the main reason for wanting to run the event include:

  • City location
  • Large number of participants
  • Crowds and Support

Just because you don’t have a place at London Marathon doesn’t mean you can’t run a city marathon in Spring 2024 and be a part of something special.

The events we’ve highlighted are:


Sun 7 April 2024

12,000 runners


UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024 1


Sun 14 April 2024

25,000 runners


UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024 2

Belfast City

Sun 28 April 2024

14,000 runners


UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024 3


Sun 26 May 2024

16,000 runners


UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024 4

With London Marathon happening on 21 April you can see how these marathons fit around that timing and will mean you can still get caught up in marathon fever and the buzz in running communities, as well as being able to train with friends who may be taking part in other marathons or races.

Brighton Marathon – Sun 7 April 2024

Brighton Marathon was taken over by the organisers of London Marathon, London Marathon Events (LME), in December 2022 after going into administration. Not only have they saved the marathon but they have added stability and their organisation skills meant the 2023 edition ran smoothly.

UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024 5

When applying for London Marathon ’24 ballots there is now an option to sign-up for Brighton Marathon at a reduced price is unsuccessful. This can only be good news for Brighton and will ensure that it can grow and perhaps become the UK’s second biggest marathon?

In 2023 the route for the marathon was amended to remove the ‘power station’ section and bring in more streets around Withdean and Hove to ensure more crowd support. Having run the marathon in 2022 I can confirm the original route was tough with minimal support around the 20 mile mark and think this is a great change.

UK city alternatives to London Marathon 2024 6

Apart from the actual marathon, Brighton has lots to offer to persuade you to extend your stay and make a long weekend of it. Be warned that accommodation books up very quickly, so either get in early, or perhaps look at hotels and B&Bs a bit further away and get the park and ride to the seafront.

Manchester Marathon – Sun 14 April 2024

Manchester is a vibrant city with a rich cultural and industrial history, and taking part in the Manchester Marathon is a great way to see what this city has to offer including Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United FC

Officially ranked as the UK’s second largest marathon after London, it’s far easier to get a place with no ballot and tickets on general sale. It’s busy with 25,000 runners taking part but that’s still half the total of London.

Manchester Marathon 2023 Start Line
Image courtesy of 2023 runner Tom Benjamin.

Accommodation is easier to come by and the tram system allows you to easily get to the marathon start even if you’re staying in the suburbs.

The crowd support is great for the Manchester Marathon and this is obviously due to the city location, but also because the route offers lots of great viewing spots for supporters, and there’s plenty of entertainment provided by the organisers to add a to that carnival feel.

Belfast City Marathon – Sun 28 April 2024

The Belfast City Marathon route runs through all 4 areas of Belfast; North, South, East and West, giving you a chance to explore the capital of Northern Ireland.

It is however a hillier marathon than London and the other marathons on this page, but recent route changes have made it flatter and faster.

Edinburgh Marathon – Sun 26 May 2024

The Edinburgh Marathon is Scotland’s most popular marathon and was voted the fastest marathon in the UK by Runner’s World in 2008 so you’ve got a good chance of nailing a PB on this course. In fact it starts on a hill and has a descent of almost 90 metres to near sea level!

Watch the above video to get an idea of what to expect and what this historic city has to offer.

Take part in a UK City Marathon

Whilst it’s disappointing to not get a place for London Marathon there are so many options out there to try something different so don’t despair and instead book your next spring marathon and visit somewhere new in the UK!

Adem Djemil
I only started running at the age of 37, completing the Couch to 5k course, and since then I've been hooked, running 4 times a week and even completing several marathons and an ultra!