Fitness Training

These are the most beautiful trail races in the world

© Theo Larn-Jones
Written by Howard Calvert
Looking for a challenge? Set your Instagram notifications alight and get a once-in-a-lifetime running experience with one of these astounding off-road events.
Traversing pavements in most towns and cities isn't always inspiring stuff – there’s only so much grey concrete and so many exhaust fumes and kebab shops you can run past before you begin to daydream of endless pine forests and low clouds drifting over a shimmering ocean. Handily, we’ve picked seven of the most spectacular races from across the globe for you to add to your calendar to lift you out of your urban gloom.

1. Útilív Adventure Festival, Faroe Islands

A rocky coastline in the Faroe Islands.
You'll find few better backdrops for racing inspiration
Date: September 7–9, 2018
Distance: 13–65km
The Faroe Islands, an archipelago between Iceland and Norway and some 300km north-west of the British Isles, is an autonomous Danish dependency of some 50,000 people that houses colonies of puffins and has colourful houses with turfed roofs. But with the new Utilív Adventure Festival it's set to welcome a lot more people. Pick your distance (13km, 21km, 42km or 65km) and get running, exploring these remote, waterfall-laden, wildlife-packed islands. You'll never run anywhere like it again.

2. Waitomo Trail Run, New Zealand

Date: April 28, 2018
Distance: 6–35km
A truly unique race in New Zealand’s North Island that goes overground then underground. Now in its third year, it’s already the largest trail run in New Zealand. You’re deep in Hobbit country here – rolling hills covered in lush, green grass, interspersed with glow-worm-illuminated limestone caves. And if you drop your energy gel wrapper, bear this odd warning in mind: ‘You will be tasked with clearing gorse from the hills above Te Anga road wearing only jandals, shorts and a singlet and you will be served warm cordial for sustenance. After that you will spend days crutching wet Perendales.’

3. Transylvanian Bear Race, Romania

Date: June 2, 2018
Distance: 42–80km
The website’s disclaimer says everything you need to know about this race: ‘The difficulty of these routes should not be underestimated. Nor should the vibrancy of the local wildlife, which includes wolves and bears.’ Nothing like sighting a wild predator to up your pace along the 42km or 80km that wind through the Romanian wilderness, ending at the birthplace of the one and only Vlad Dracul.

4. Tromsø Skyrace, Norway

Date: August 3–4, 2018
Distance: 32–57km
This challenging event is described as 'soul skyrunning between the sea and the sky'. You’ll need mountaineering skills and expertise for this one, as you’ll be linking summits and scrambling across ridges covered in boulders and scree in northern Norway. There are two races to choose from: the 57km Hamperokken Skyrace and the 32km Tromsdalstind Skyrace. Taking you from stunning forest and lakes to technical mountain climbing, it'll push you to your physical limits in stunning (if chilly) surroundings.

5. The Golden Ultra, Canada

Date: September 21–23, 2018
Distance: 48 miles
This three-day running festival in British Columbia features races for all abilities. Each day of the festival is given a snappy name: ‘Blood’, ‘Sweat’ and ‘Tears’, which pretty much sums up what you'll experience at some point during each day. You’ll run (in between photo stops) surrounded by some of western Canada’s most breathtaking scenery featuring forests, mountains and lakes.

6. Silver Falls Trail Runs, United States

Date: November 4–5, 2018
Distance: 11–50km
Running around waterfalls – and even 'in' them – is something you can do at this majestic trail race in Silverton, Oregon, USA. Distances range from 7 miles (11km) to 50km, and it sells out quickly every year, so you need to be quick at clicking when registration opens on August 1, 2018. One runner’s review sums it up nicely: “I ran this half-marathon in the rain with two sprained toes and didn't want it ever to end."

7. Round The Rock, Jersey

Date: September 21–23, 2018
Distance: 3km to 60km
Running 48 miles around Jersey, the UK crown dependency that lies in the English Channel between the UK and France, this race is a great intro for ultra-runners looking to step up from marathon distance. It takes place in mid-summer, so the weather can be sweltering, but you’ll be skirting the circumference of a beautiful island with stunning views out to the ocean and plenty of time for the odd dip to cool you down.