Every runner standing on the start line for a marathon has an idea of the time that they would like to run, whether it be a sub-3 hour or sub-7. Achieving that illustrious personal best (PB) is a huge dangling carrot for many runners and choosing a course that is flat can help the process along just nicely.
Nevertheless, just because a course is flat does not always mean that it will be fast enough for a personal best, other factors can play a part too. Bad weather particularly wind, rain or extreme heat can slow you down as can overcrowding on course, badly organised start lines, uneven terrain or lots of sharp bends on route. Good weather conditions, a positive atmosphere, crowd support and long, flat, straight roads can help achieve your desired goal.
The following are 6 of the flattest marathon courses in the UK to seriously consider if you want to give yourself an increased chance of achieving a new personal best.
Manchester, Greater Manchester, 16th April 2023
Over recent years the Manchester Marathon has become one of the most in demand marathons in the UK behind the London marathon. Perfect for a PB due to the friendly, upbeat, northern atmosphere and crowd support. The course is also the flattest in the UK with only 55 metres of elevation, starting and finishing at the Emirates Stadium, Old Trafford.
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, 1st May 2023
Consistently ranked in the top 10 UK marathons. In 2023 the start has moved to Campbell Park, a top event space in Milton Keynes. A two-lap fast and scenic course taking in villages and green spaces showcasing the local area. This is also a great marathon for spectators with family, as lots to do including a finish line festival with live music.
Blackpool, Lancashire, 23rd April 2023
A flat and very fast coastal marathon taking in the main tourist attractions on Blackpool Promenade such as Blackpool Tower and The Golden Mile, Lytham St Annes and Cleveleys. Two laps of the same course allows for maximum entertainment and crowd support. A nice weekend away for the family by the seaside perfect for PB chasers.
Newport, Wales, 16th April 2023
Newport marathon was created due to popular demand for a premier marathon in Wales. It did not take place in 2022 but will be back on again in 2023. The course is fast and flat taking in beautiful coastal scenery and mediaeval villages, starting and finishing alongside the riverbank. The route was devised by double Olympic marathon runner Steve Brace, and according to the Newport Marathon website, is one of the flattest marathon courses in Europe. This has contributed to 70% of all finishers achieving a PB. Perhaps it is all of the sea air!
Edinburgh, Scotland, 16th April 2023
In terms of numbers, the Edinburgh Marathon is the second biggest marathon in the UK behind London with 16,000 places on offer. Stunning scenery including a section of the East Lothian coastline and the historical sites of Edinburgh itself add to the popularity of this route. In 2008 this course was voted the fastest marathon in the UK by Runners World and it has sold out every year since.
Chester, Cheshire, 2nd October 2023
An epic award winning marathon commencing in the city of Chester seeping in Roman and Medieval history. A fast and mainly flat PB marathon taking in beautiful village scenery, historical landmarks and the River Dee. According to the organisers 70% of runners achieve a PB on this closed road route of 19 miles in England and 7 in Wales.
Whichever relatively flat marathon you are going to choose, good luck!