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The London Marathon - what, when and how

The London Marathon - what, when and how

It’s that time again! London hosts its 35th mass marathon on Sunday 26th April. The event is the third biggest held in the UK, and turns the capital into a weekend festival of participation, charity and all-round fun. Would you like to join in?


The original marathon distance of 26 miles was inspired by the run of the messenger Pheidippides from the Greek village of Marathon to Athens. With a slight tweak at the London Olympics of 1908, the total is now 42.195 kilometres for those that think in metric.

Since that date London has hosted many marathons. The big spring event of today was founded by the late Olympic gold medallist Chris Brasher and is now run by his son Hugh.


The route starts at Blackheath, near Greenwich and finishes in spectacular fashion on the Mall. The overall entry is about 35000 runners of all abilities and ages.

The race passes dozens of wonderful London landmarks, and is also a great spectator festival. The logistics are finely honed, so runners are well looked after despite the huge numbers.


The main entry is via a ballot, which last year was filled within 10 hours and was oversubscribed by 13 times.  This year’s ballot is expected at the end of April, so keep a close look out and be prepared to act quickly.

Ballot results are not announced until October, so have a ‘plan B’. Plenty of charities have guaranteed places, and there may still be a few last minute spots available if you are in race trim. Other ways to enter are via running clubs or by using previous marathon times.


With plenty of time, you can be in next year’s event even if you are a beginner runner now. Once you’ve got your basic running fitness, you can start looking at the real training schedule.

There’s no doubt that the London Marathon needs lengthy preparation. The work is not just physical – the right mental attitude is essential to carry you through. Don’t forget that healthy eating plan either!

Inspired? Take a look at this year’s event, get on the list and perhaps we’ll see you on the Mall!

the author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.