This Sunday 22 April sees the 26th London Marathon take place through the streets of the capital, with almost 50,000 runners entered to take part. The race begins in Greenwich Park/Blackheath and ends on The Mall just down from Buckingham Palace, and on the way goes past many of London’s most famous landmarks on both sides of the Thames.
Because of the number of runners there are actually three start points, Red at Charlton Way, Greenwich Park, Green at St. John’s Park on the edge of Blackheath and Blue at Blackheath, Shooters Hill Road, although they’re all fairly close together. There are also three staggered start times, 9am for the women’s elite race, 9.25am for the men’s and women’s wheelchair races and 9.45am for the elite men’s race and the mass start for the thousands of ordinary runners.
Once underway the runners head due east from Blackheath for a couple of miles before turning north and heading towards the River Thames at the Woolwich ferry area. Once at Woolwich the route swings 90 degrees so they’re heading west and another three miles sees the runners going through Greenwich, on the other side of the park from where they started.
The course then spends about 6 miles following the bends in the River Thames until it reaches Tower Bridge which the marathon crosses before heading east again to the shining office blocks of Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs. After a circuit around the Isle of Dogs the runners head for Limehouse and back towards Tower Bridge, then on down Lower and Upper Thames Streets to the Embankment and along by the river until they reach the Houses of Parliament, go up Birdcage Walk, past Buckingham Palace and sprint for the finish.
The London Mararthon usually draws a big crowd but there’s plenty of space to find a vantage point to watch if you avoid some obvious bottenecks such as around Buckingham Palace and the Greenwich area around Cutty Sark, apparently there are 76 pubs along the route if you get a bit dry and can’t face water. Last year 33,222 out of 33,578 starters finished the race, which sounds like pretty good going.
The weather in London is good at the moment and Sunday is forecast to be dry and about 19C(66F), which should be ideal running conditions. Get along and take a look if you enjoy watching other people struggle and sweat.