So, you’re in London on London Marathon day (this year, that’s the 26th April). What can you do?
Well, you can either ignore it and spend your time grumbling about the road closures and crowded tubes – or you can embrace it and go give your support!
That said, if you go for the latter option, it pays to follow these tips:
- Choose your position wisely
Obviously, the marathon is a long route – so decide where you want to position yourself before you get there! Luckily the event organisers have put together a handy map outlining the race route, which are available here. Try to avoid Greenwich town centre, the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and anywhere from mile 24 onwards if you can, as these places are usually the busiest.
- Think about travel
The roads are closed so it’s public transport only. There will be additional services running to deal with the influx of runners and spectators, but you should still give yourself extra time to move around the city.
- Dress practically
Even the spectators spend hours of their feet on race day, so keep your bag light, your shoes sensible, and bring clothes suitable for all weathers. An April day in London can mean rain, sunshine and everything in between – often all in the space of an hour or so.
- Stay safe
The crowds of supporters are like catnip to pickpockets. Be extra cautious and stay alert. If you experience any harassment, report it to the nearest race officials or police officers.
- Grab a drink
There are 80 pubs alongside the race route, many of which serve the marathon’s official beer London Pride and will be running special events on the day. Get there early to secure a seat!
- Cheer as loud as you can
I’ve not run a full marathon, but I’ve ran a few half-marathons, and I can vouch for the fact that cheers of encouragement from the crowd really can get you across the finish line. Don’t hold back!
- Support your sisters
Save some special shout outs go to the women marathon runners – did you know that it wasn’t all that long ago that women were considered too dainty to run marathons, and were forbade from entering official races? Of course, a load of badass women ran them anyway – if you’re interested in learning more, there’s a really interesting section on the history of women runners in Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley (a book I’d really recommend for anyone interested in running but scared of taking those first few steps. Perfect if you leave the London Marathon feeling inspired).
- Dig deep
Every year, the London Marathon runners raise a phenomenal amount of money for charity through sponsorship – in fact, it’s the largest annual fundraising event in the world. Get involved in the generosity and donate any pennies you can spare. Even if you don’t know anyone fundraising beforehand, a lot of runners wear t-shirts outlining ways you can give money to their cause. Finding out they’ve received a donation from a complete stranger is guaranteed to bring a smile to any marathon runner’s face, even after 26.2 miles.
- Count the crazy costumes
As if running the London Marathon wasn’t hard enough in itself, some runners think to themselves, ‘You know what? I just think I need that extra challenge.’ Where do such thoughts lead? The weird and wonderful world of runners’ fancy dress. Keep a tally of yours favourites. My personal all-time winner is Lloyd Scott, who in 2002 ran the entire marathon in a 130lb deep sea diving suit from the 1940s. It took him over five days, winning the world record for slowest marathon. Sadly all marathons must be completed within a 24-hour time limit, so don’t expect to see anything quite this cumbersome this year.
- Record the record-breaking attempts
The London Marathon is notorious for kooky world record attempts. This year, over 100 runners will by vying for such glory – attempts will include the fastest marathons made while dressed as a plant, framed painting, Tardis, three-person costume and 3D dinosaur; while carrying an 80lb pack; and, arguably worst of all, while wearing high heels (ouch!)
Will you be watching the London Marathon this year? Let us know how it goes!