Attention, runners: Here’s how to snag a free half-marathon spot

Free places are also on offer for a 5k and 10k race – and the ballot is now open.

Runners are being offered the chance to claim a free place to run a 5k, 10k or half-marathon in a UK-first running event.

Set to take place on September 24 2023, the event’s organising company RunThrough claims it is the first closed-road, chip-timed race in the UK that people can enter for free.

It’s open to everyone, no matter your age (there’s a junior race open to under 11s and no upper age limit on the others), how far you can run, or how fast you are.

A group of runners pictured from the waist down running on a roadCredit: Shutterstock / Pavel1964

Founders Matt Wood and Ben Green are keen to share their love of running and inspire others to experience the physical, mental and social benefits of the sport.

Head of partnerships for RunThrough, Luc Walker, echoes this sentiment, saying: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any running experience. It’s an opportunity to be involved in a unique community where there’s no judgment, only respect for giving it a go.”

The RunThrough name is well known in running circles as a company that puts on fun, friendly, inclusive events.

Now in their tenth year, they’ve launched the RunThrough Foundation to deliver free running events and remove the financial barriers to the sport (some half marathon races can cost more than £40), so that more people can have access to races and get involved with running.

Warrington, Cheshire was chosen to host the first event as it’s Green’s home town and he wanted to give something back to his community. However, the Cheshire town does have a rich history in running and many events have had their finish line near the golden gates in front of the town hall.


The event will have all the traditional race day activities, with an event village, medal at the finish line and some extra goodies.

Walker says: “It’s going to be an unforgettable experience and the atmosphere will be sensational. There will be lots of spectators and support along the way. Anyone who’s not yet got the running bug will catch it at this event.”

How do I enter?

A minimum of 6,000 ballot entries are available across the different race categories. Entrants can choose from a 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), or a half-marathon (13.1 miles). The junior race is open to children under 11 years old, and covers a distance of 1km (0.6 miles).

In a bid to involve the Warrington community, organisers have reserved 1,200 of the total spots available for local runners.

Entrants will be contacted via email if they are successful, with the next wave set to be chosen on May 30. If you’re unsuccessful in that one, your entry will roll over into the next wave, which will be picked on July 31.

Interested? Enter the ballot now to be involved in this historic running event. As Walker says: “We’re hoping it will have a positive impact on people’s lives, to give them the confidence to do something different for free.”

Warrington Running Festival 2023

When: Sunday September 24 2023

Where: Warrington town centre

Times: Half-marathon and 10k – 9am; 5k – 9:30am. Kids race – 11:30am

Rebecca Frew

Written by Rebecca Frew she/her


Becky Frew has written various articles for newspapers and magazines focusing on fitness, is a qualified run leader, and a certified sleep talker trainer who loves to help advise people how they can nod off easier. When she is not writing or reading about fitness, she is at hot pod yoga, bounce class, training for an ultra-marathon or booking anything with a medal and free food at the end.

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