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When will running races start again? 5 important things to know


With the lifting of lockdown restrictions in the UK, many people are wondering when will running races start again. 

March 2020 was the last time a large running event was able to take place ‘normally’. I participated in the Cambridge Half Marathon in early March and little did we know that a few weeks later all running races in the UK would be cancelled until the foreseeable future. 

Many runners are yearning to get back to running races. Training for a race like a 10k, half marathon or marathon can be gruelling, but it is a great way to motivate yourself to go running each week.

If you have struggled to motivate yourself to go running during lockdown, then you’ll be glad to know that races will soon return in the UK.

In this blog, I’d like to share some key points about races returning in the UK, so if you’re wondering when will running races start again, this blog has got you covered!

England Athletics – the governing body of running events and races in England – issued guidance on 26 March 2021 which detailed a five-phased approach that they will be adopting for the return of running races in England. 

Related: The 9 best running challenges for your strongest year of running

when will running races start again

When will running races start again? 5 important things to know

Running activity will return in phases

England Athletics’ five-phased approach is designed to provide guidance on how to return to running activity and running races safely. The approach is in line with the government’s roadmap to lifting restrictions, with the view of lifting all legal limits by 21st June. 

Phase one (8th March)

The first phase of this return began on 8th March, with the return of athletics and running activities for the purpose of educational activity (e.g. in schools, universities and colleges). 

Phase two (29th March)

The second phase began on 29th March and this saw the return of running groups and licensed outdoor competitions and events, including road events and multi-terrain events. 

This phase also meant the following could start again:

  • Formal organised outdoor athletics and running activity that is Covid-secure
  • Outdoor unorganised activity in groups of up to 6
  • Outdoor club competition (without a license)
  • Outdoor competition, including road running and multi-terrain events (with a license)
  • Travel permitted (training and competition)
  • Parent/carer supervision permitted (one per athlete/runner)

At this stage, no indoor training can take place for adults or children. Spectating is also not allowed.

Phase three (no earlier than 12th April)

The third phase began on 12th April which saw the return of indoor training for organised group training for children, for individual training (for children and adults) or for household bubbles. 

Phase four (no earlier than 17th May)

The fourth phase will see the return of indoor leisure facilities for individual use or within household groups and indoor organised group training for children and adults. Spectators will also be allowed to return to events. 

The restrictions on travel will also be lifted and accommodation and hotels will also open up for two-day events.

Phase five (no earlier than 21st June)

By the fifth phase, individual and competition activity can return to normal with no legal limits on social contact. 

Related: The 6 best virtual running events in 2020

when will running races start again

There will be new guidance for run coaches and run leaders

If you’re a run coach or run leader, there will be new guidance for leading running groups. England Athletics have released a checklist for coaches and leaders which details the checks that should be completed before and during a group session.

Before the session, coaches and leaders will be required to check in with runners and ensure the activity can be run safely. During the session, they will be required to arrange the session so that social distancing can take place. Runners will not be allowed to congregate before or after the session. 

The checklist for coaches and run leaders is accompanied by operations guidance for any run clubs looking to return to secure group activity. 

Related: How to become a run leader and inspire others to run

Licensed races will return on 29th March

Under step 1 of the government road map, licensed races in England resumed on 29th March. This includes road running events and trail running events. 

If you live in Wales, you can find more information regarding the return to races on the Welsh Athletics website.

If you live in Scotland, you can find more information on the Scottish Athletics website

Related: Everything you need to know about the Cambridge Half Marathon

when will running races start again

Travel to races and competitions will be restricted

In line with the government’s guidance, England Athletics’ advice is to minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home for exercise and participation in informal and organised sport and physical activity. 

Travel restrictions will be lifted no earlier than 17th May, after which you will be able to travel to organised races and stay in a hotel to attend a race further afield. 

There will be a ‘code of conduct’ at each race

Run Britain – the organiser of British road running events – has released a code of conduct in light of restrictions and social distancing. This guidance is designed to ensure a safe and enjoyable event for everyone. 

Here are some of the key points from the Run Britain guidance:

  • Runners must undertake a self-assessment for symptoms before competing and use the NHS app
  • Spectators must adhere to social gathering limits (i.e. groups of six or two households)
  • Runners must bring their own hand sanitiser and refreshments.
  • Runners must avoid physical contact with participants, volunteers and spectators including high fives and hugs. 

Related: When will Parkrun start again? 5 things you need to know about the return of Parkrun

when will running races start again

Book your race now!

What are you looking forward to most with the return of running events and races in the UK? If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some running events that will start again:

Summer 2021:

Autumn 2021:

You can find a full calendar of events on the Run Britain website.

If you’re looking for training plans to help you get back into running, you can find my 5k and 10k training plans linked below:

Caroline Geoghegan