The world’s 2nd largest marathon and one of the best for atmosphere, support and fancy dress! Excellently organised year in year out and a must do for all marathon fans – if you can get a place.
Where: London, South East England
Size: 36,000 runners
Completed April 2007
Official race website here.
- Go to a pasta party. This is a great chance to meet other runners and get the perfect preparation the night before
- Check the travel information over in London or traveling down on the morning you’ll need to rely on public transport to get to the start
- Wear your name on the front of your top! Having thousands of strangers shouting your name as you pound the pavements is the best motivation ever!
- If you run with music make sure you only use one earphone as the crowd atmosphere is fantastic
- Be aware of the final couple of miles before the Mall where the route doubles back on itself so you think you’re there but you’ve got a section to go
- Enjoy it! Getting a place in the London Marathon is tough enough, it’ll be an experience that stays with you forever!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
This is the big one in terms of Marathons, and the pre-race paper work and instructions match the scale of the race. There’s loads of supporting informaton and travel info which obviously helps with the pre-race prep.
There are plenty of stewards around as well which makes the process smooth. The only problem the year I did it was the tube line closures. They delayed my arrival at the race start, and meant that I started 20 minutes after the official start time along with a few hundred others.
With the chip system for recording times that didn’t matter, and actually helped me get into my stride!
Pretty much every hotel runs its own pre-race pasta party, along with several official ones as well so be sure to get down to one and stock up on carbs and last minute advice.
What’s the course like?
The course winds around the streets of London, taking in many of the famous sites, with the half way point crossing Tower Bridge and the final straight being the Mall.
The scale of the marathon can mean running conditions are tight, but the route takes you along wide roads so there is no real problem with the large number of runners.
Be aware of the final couple of miles before the Mall where the route doubles back on itself so you think you’re getting near the end and then on the other side of the fence runners come back the other way!
What’s the atmosphere like?
The atmosphere is amazing! Quite simply the best you could ever experience in a race.
The route takes you through residential, commercial and industrial areas and pretty much the entire route is lined with people.
Pubs along the route play music and kids handout sweets as you run past their house. In addition to that you’ve obviously got the huge variety of fancy dress to keep you entertained along the way!
How difficult is the London Marathon?
One of the hardest parts of London Marathon is getting a spot on the start line! It’s so oversubscribed that many people have to wait years on the ballot to get a place.
The other way that thousands get on is through a charity place. This is much easier but they ask you to raise anywhere between £1000 to £2000 which can be as hard as training for the run!
Our advice is to do a couple of fundraising events like getting some mates together for a half marathon and getting them to raise a little bit each that will go to your charity pot.
On race day the actual marathon is fairly flat and the crowds pull runners along so effectively that it’s not the hardest marathon to complete.
There are so many landmarks to keep your eyes busy as well that it is a great race for first-timers and even PB chasers.
There aren’t any real hills. There’s a gradual incline at about 4 miles in. It can be quite hot and sometimes falls on a heatwave so keep hydrated!
What is there to do Apres-Race?
There are free massages on offer, and again with the scale of the race loads of additional events.
The meal you get is one to be treasured. London as a city has lots to offer, and if you can walk afterwards then there’s plenty of sites to see.
The goody bag you get on completion is pretty immense too and well worth the 26 miles!
My Race Diary
Ian Jelley – regular marathon and half marathon runner
Marathon no.: 1
Place: Ahead of the men dressed as Rhinos, behind Paula Radcliffe.
I thought I’d hit “the wall” at the 18 mile mark but dug deep and powered through it.
When I hit the REAL wall at the 21 mile mark, it really knocked me and I had to walk from mile 21 to 22. After that I was determined to finish it properly and ended up running the rest including a sprint (ish) along the last 500 meters!