Run, swim, box, flex: races and events you can sign up to now (and regret at your leisure)

WE'RE five weeks into 2022 already, so if one of your New Year’s Resolutions was a half-hearted promise to "get fit" or "be healthier", perhaps now’s the time to start honing in on the details?

Many of us start the year with a sudden urgency to become the fit and fantastic person we’ve always secretly known we could be. But that motivation can disappear faster than snow on Market Street when we’re dealing with dark commutes and the lure of the sofa and a ready meal.

One way to build your focus and strengthen your resolve is to have a goal to work towards with a specific deadline. A big fitness event gives you both. It’s a date in your diary to train for and to have as your "why" when you’re not in the mood for exercise or other things are competing for your time.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of fitness challenges in and around Manchester for 2022 including all the big races and some lesser-known events. Choose the one that sounds the most appealing (or least terrifying) to you.

Three people helping each other over the finishing line in the Great Manchester Run
Made it! Who's signing up for the Great Manchester Run in May? Image: Great Manchester Run


First up, a new race for 2022. The inaugural Watersons Hale 10K takes place on Sunday 20 February. The route takes you past the chi-chi boutiques of Hale village and along the country lanes to Ashley Hall. It’s a closed-roads run so no need to worry about being knocked off your stride by passing Range Rovers. There’s also a 3km in the grounds of Ashley Hall for younger runners or those who prefer to tackle a shorter distance. Entry is £25/£23 or £10 for the 3k. Proceeds go to children’s charity The Toy Appeal.

The big one - in terms of length and bragging rights - is the Therme Manchester Marathon, coming up on Sunday 3 April. Public entries are now closed but you can still register to run for a charity. It’s one of the flattest marathon courses around so it’s a good choice for new marathon runners or those hoping for a PB.

The first Run MediaCity for 2022 will be held on 28 April - it's one of six Thursday evening races over the spring and summer. Choose from a 5k or a 10k made up of 2.5km laps that lead from the centre of MediaCity, passing the Imperial War Museum and the BBC and ITV studios. Entry is £22 including a medal and post-race goodies.

On Sunday 22 May, it’s the turn of the Great Manchester Run which is known for its party atmosphere and "experience zones" - they’ve had the Halle and Clint Boon entertaining the runners in the past. Choose from a half marathon or the 10k. Entry is £42/£49 and there are various opportunities to fundraise for charities. 

Girl trail running at the Tour of Tameside running festival in Greater Manchester
The enticingly-named Hell on The Fell trail run is part of the Tour of Tameside running festival in June Image: Sports Tours International

Still got some energy left? Then take part in the Tour of Tameside from 16-19 June - a four-day annual running festival that was first held back in 1981. One of the highlights is an evening 10km trail run enticingly called Hell on the Fell. Head to the Active Copley leisure centre on 17 June for this one - expect a steep climb rewarded by some amazing views. Entry is £18.

Like to mix your running with army-style assault course challenges? Tough Mudder returns to Heaton Park on 23 and 24 July with obstacles including a giant ice bath, a mud mile, and the vertigo-inducing Mudderhorn. It suits team players - you’ll need the help of fellow "mudders" to conquer the course. Entry is £65 for the 5k and £79 for the 10k.

Finally, how about attempting the Manchester Half Marathon on Sunday 9 October? The temperatures will be lower by then and you’ll have had plenty of time to train. It’s a closed-roads race around the southern suburbs, starting at Old Trafford and heading as far out as Timperley and back.

Woman taking part in the Great North Swim at Windermere in the Lake District
Dare you brave the waters of Windermere in the Great North Swim? Image: Great North Swim


Outdoor swimming is addictive apparently so we’ll be steering well clear of it. But if it is your thing, you’ve got plenty of challenges coming up this year, starting with the Greater Manchester Swim at USWIM at MediaCity on Saturday 14 May. Distances range from 500 metres to 3 miles, including events for young swimmers. Entry is £15-£55 depending on age and distance.

Next head up to the Lakes for the Great North Swim on 10-12 June. Up to 10,000 swimmers will be braving the waters of Windermere with challenges ranging from 250 metres to 10 km. The event is based at country house Brockhole where there are lots of family activities to keep non-swimmers entertained. Entry is £19-£89 depending on the distance. 

Another, even longer Windermere swim challenge takes place on Saturday 13 August. The Windermere One Way is an epic 11-mile odyssey that spans the full length of the lake from Fell Foot to Brathay Hall. It’s definitely not for newbies. Entry is from £195 if you bring your own canoeist to support you.

Back in the realm of the achievable - we like the sound of the Neon Swim on Saturday 17 September at USWIM MediaCity. It’s a chance to experience night swimming in a magically lit Dock 9 with glow sticks and UV face paint. It’s a fun, non-competitive event, open to competent swimmers of all ages. Choose from 500 metres, 1.5 km and 3 km. Entry is £10-£45 depending on age and distance. 


Hayfield on the Peak District Boundary Walk in snow
The Peak District Boundary Walk takes you to some of the lesser-visited parts of the National Park Image: Confidentials


More of a rambler than a racer? The Peak District Challenge on 9-10 July is an Ultra Challenge event aimed at walkers, joggers and runners, with a choice of distances ranging from 10 miles to 100 km. All routes start in Bakewell and take in some of the prettiest parts of the Peak District with lots of support along the way including food stops, shuttle buses, welfare teams and camping options. Prices range from £37.50-£198 depending on the distance. It's cheaper if you're raising money for charity.

If you prefer to avoid mass-participation events, check out the Peak District Boundary Walk. It’s a newish 190-mile walk that roughly follows the boundaries of the Peak District in 20 one-day stages. Do it all at once (ya nutter) or be sensible and aim to complete it by the end of the year. The unusual route - skirting the very edges of the National Park - means you’ll see parts of the Peak District that don’t get a lot of attention or visitors. Get the guidebook and start planning.

A coach and boxer at an Ultra White Collar Boxing event in Manchester
A corner pep talk at the last Ultra White Collar Boxing event in Manchester. Image: Ultra White Collar Boxing


We’ve heard that nothing tops the adrenalin of stepping into a boxing ring for your first fight. If it’s something you’ve dreamed of doing, make it happen this year with Ultra White Collar BoxingThey stage charity boxing bouts for complete beginners, training you up over eight weeks to get you ready for the ring. Meanwhile, you fundraise and sell tickets to friends and family for your big night, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. The next Manchester event is on 23 July at Bowlers Exhibition Centre. Training starts week commencing 30 May. Minimum fundraising amount is £50.  

Contestants gather on stage at a Pure Elite fitness modelling show
Show off your hard work in the gym at Pure Elite's amateur-only event at Middleton Arena. Image: Pure Elite


We’re big believers in "you do you" here and that goes for the exercise-obsessed as well as the exercise-indifferent. If working out is where you find your happiness and self-esteem and you’ve got a gym-sculpted body you’re proud of, here’s a chance to show off your hard work. Pure Elite is the largest bikini, fitness model and muscle model federation in Europe - and they’ve got an amateur-only event coming up at Middleton Arena on Sunday 3 July. Anyone can enter. Categories include fitness wellness, mums that lift, tattooed, transformation, muscle model and more. The judging criteria vary for each category but a big dose of confidence is essential. Entry is £75.


Cyclists gathering at Wythenshawe Park for the Manchester 100.jpg
The Christie Manchester 100 takes place in September Image: Bike Events


The big one for Manchester cyclists is the charity challenge Tour de Manc on 1 May - already mentioned in our 2022 fitness, sport and wellbeing calendar. There are four routes to choose from including the 200 km Mad Manc for the seriously committed rider. 

Then it’s the turn of the famous Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride on Sunday 10 July - a 60-mile route that starts in MediaCity and ends at Blackpool’s South Promenade with a beer tent and a bit of a party. Coaches will take you and your bike back to Manchester when you’re done. Entry cost TBC.

On 3 September you can do The Peaks Tour which sets off from Bakewell with a choice of three routes, from 74 km to 160 km. Expect leg-burning climbs and glorious, long descents (it's called the Peak District for a reason). Entry is £25-£40 depending on the distance.

Closer to home, it’s the Christie Manchester 100 on Sunday 11 September - you choose whether to make that 100 km or 100 miles. Both routes start from Wythenshawe Park and take you on a scenic loop of the Cheshire countryside, with rest stops, mechanics and pick-up vehicles along the way. Entry cost TBC.

Runners at the MCA Fitness duathlon at Manchester Airport
Run and cycle your way around the Cheshire countryside at an MCA Fitness duathlon Image: MCA Fitness

Run + cycle (+ swim)

Triathlons and duathlons are enjoying a surge of popularity thanks to last summer's Olympic Games. If you've been practising getting your trainers on and off super-fast and love the action-hero vibes of a running dive, you've several chances to put yourself to the test this year. 

MCA Fitness host run-cycle-run events throughout the year at Dunham Massey and Manchester Airport with a "Go Tri" option for beginners and a more challenging "Sprint" option. The next one is at Dunham Massey on 12-13 March. Entry is £15-£40 depending on the distance.

If you want to skip the cycling but are well up for open-water swimming, the Manchester SwimRun on Sunday 8 May is for you. It's held at Chorlton Water Park and includes 1,450 metres of open water swimming and 10 km of trail running, in six stages. Get a team together and do it as a relay if you like. Register quickly though - it's nearly full up. Entry is £45 adults, £10 juniors, and £80 relay (teams of up to three people). 

Finally, the South Manchester Triathlon combines indoor swimming with running and/or cycling on Sunday 11 September. Head to Wilmslow Leisure Centre for this one - you swim in their pool first before a transition on the cricket pitch for the bike race and run around the leafy lanes of East Wilmslow. Entry is £49.99-£66.99.

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Read next: 'You don't feel as isolated' Ancoats Run Club, profiled

Read again: What's on: Manchester fitness, sport and wellbeing in 2022

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