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24th December 2022

Trail Running Race Trends in 2022

Runaway Adventures takes a look at the evolution of UK trail running through our last 3 years of data.

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As 2022 draws to a close, we've investigated the numbers to see how Runaway Adventures is evolving from a data perspective. Below we've analysed the last three years of racing. Let's get into it.

1. Finisher Numbers

Starting with finishers, we have been delighted to see so many runners at our events this year with a 31% increase in 2022, compared to 2021. This continues a steady rise since our first race 4 years ago.

Splitting finishers by gender reveals consistent groupings, with almost no change since 2020. It will be interesting to see how this looks in twelve months time as we commit more energy to increasing female participation.

Year on year trend - by gender

Drilling into the data further, we can categorise finishers by age. A consistent trend at our races (and nationwide) is the popularity of trail running in the 40-49 age category, but there is good participation from all ages.

There has been just one runner aged over 70 to date, this was at the Suffolk Coastal Path 50K in 2022, let's hope for a few more moving forward.

Year on year trend - by race

We were interested to see if the age demographics were different for male and female runners, however splitting data by gender reveals almost no change in the groupings. Certainly in this data sample, age participation is not influenced by gender.

Year on year trend - male only Year on year trend - female only

The story is slightly different when we start to investigate specific race distances. The average gender split during the last three years in 50K races skews further towards male dominance (72% male / 28% female), but in the short distance events this is more balanced at 64% male to 36% female.

What would you like us to implement in 2023 to encourage greater female participation? Let us know via email at

Year on year trend - 50K only Year on year trend - Half Only

2. Finish times

In this section we analyse the finish times across our different races over the previous three years. Given that the races have a high male participant percentage, we have visualised both overall, and female only data.

The 50K races reveal some really interesting insights:

  • The Chiltern Ridge 2022 represents out most competitive race, with the fastest top 80 finishers to date.
  • The Suffolk Coastal Path 50K produced the fastest podium times of the season, but average times were modest.
  • The Chiltern Ridge 2020 had the most 8+ hour finishers. Perhaps due to the challenging weather conditions.
  • The female finish data typically shows a large time gap between the 1st & 5th finisher.
Finish Times - 50K only Finish Times - 50K/female only

Now let's look at the same visualisation for half marathons, again showing overall and female only data separately. With all races set over similarly hilly terrain the deviation in times are likely influenced by weather conditions, and depth of field.

  • It is clear that the Chiltern Ridge Half got slightly easier after the switch to the new route in 2021.
  • The 2022 Dunstable Downs had favourable weather and ground conditions compared to 2021, and the times reflect this.
  • If you are aiming for a top 10 finish in 2023 you will need to be aiming for sub 1h45 (men) or sub 2 hours (women).
Finish Times - Half only Finish Times - Half/female only

That's all the analysis we've got time for right now so I'll sign off with a few pointers to help you choose the right event next year.

50K Ultra Trail

  • If you're looking for a fast 50K, Suffolk or Greensand will give you the best chance.
  • The most competitive race will be Chiltern Ridge 2023, where a sub 5-hour finish will only put you in ~25th overall.
  • If you're aiming for a 6-hour 50K at any of our hillier events (Chiltern Ridge, North Chilterns), that will most likely guarantee a top 50 place finish (overall) and top 20 in women's standings.

Half Marathon Trail

  • For a top-10 finish overall you will need to run well inside 2 hours.
  • For women, you will likely net a top 5 finish by running sub 2h10.
  • There is very little to choose between the events in terms of the data, so here's our recommendations:
    • For rolling hills on a famous trail choose the Chiltern Ridge.
    • For incredible forest running choose Hughenden.
    • For stunning views and unforgiving ups and downs choose Dunstable.


Thanks to everyone that took part in one of our trail running races this year. Click here to browse next year's events.

Runaway Racing Trig Point Illustration

Our trail running races

Greensand Country 50K 50km - 26th May 2024
Chiltern Ridge Half Marathon 21.2km - 16th June 2024
Dunstable Downs Half Marathon 21.2km - 14th July 2024
Suffolk Coastal Path 50K 50km - 14th September 2024
North Chilterns 50K 50km - 13th October 2024
Chiltern Ridge Winter 50K 50km - 16th November 2024
Chiltern Hills Invitational 10km - 8th December 2024
Chiltern Ridge Ultra 50K 50km - 5th April 2025
Hughenden Trail 10K 10K - Spring 2025 (TBC)
Chiltern Hills 100K 100k - 26th April 2025
Tewinbury Trail 10K 10km - 8th June 2025

Past results & photos

Not sure which race to choose, check out our past event results and photos.

Results & photos

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