When Is The London Marathon & What Is The Route?
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When Is The London Marathon & What Is The Route?

It’s almost time to get your running shoes on

Whether you’re taking part, supporting the troops or just want to soak up some of the infectious atmosphere, it’s almost time for the London Marathon 2024, and we’ve gathered all the details. Here’s the where, when, why and how of the capital’s biggest run of the year.

A Guide To The London Marathon 2024

Runners stream through the medal gates on The Mall during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023

Runners stream through the medal gates on The Mall during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023. © Adam Warner for London Marathon Events/TCS London Marathon

What Is The London Marathon?

The London Marathon is an annual long-distance running event held in London. One of the six World Marathon Majors and the second largest annual road race in the UK, the London Marathon attracts tens of thousands of runners from all over the world. The race itself consists of a 26.2-mile course that takes them through the streets of London, passing many of the city’s famous landmarks.

The first London Marathon was held in 1981, set up by athletes Chris Brasher and John Disley, and is split into multiple components; the mass race, which is open to the public, is considered the main event. Many people have run the marathon to raise money for charity, and since its founding have raised over £1 billion for various charities.

When Is The London Marathon 2024?

The London Marathon will take place on Sunday 21 April 2024.

What Time Does It Start?

The main London Marathon usually kicks off around 9.40 AM, with waves of runners setting off at staggered times until around 11.30 AM. Before then, though, the elite races begin, including the wheelchair races at 8.50 AM, the elite women at 9 AM, and the elite men just before the mass. Participants are allocated a start time with plenty of notice before the big day.

Participants cross Tower Bridge with the sub 4 hour pace runner during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023.

Participants cross Tower Bridge with the sub 4 hour pace runner during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023. © Thomas Lovelock for London Marathon Events/TCS London Marathon.

What Is The Route?

The London Marathon begins in Greenwich Park and takes a winding route through central London to end on the Mall at Buckingham Palace. Here it is broken down into stages:

  • Beginning in Greenwich Park and travelling east into Charlton
  • Turning north up John Wilson Street to loop back west, passing Woolwich Dockyard and proceeding through Woolwich until runners arrive at the northern end of Greenwich Park
  • Passing Cutty Sark and moving west through Deptford to reach Surrey Quays
  • Following the bend of the river through Rotherhithe and around to Bermondsey until they reach Tower Bridge
  • Runners cross the River Thames at Tower Bridge, turning east (and hitting the halfway mark) to pass through the docklands, including Shadwell and West Ferry before descending onto the Isle of Dogs and weaving through the likes of Mudchute, Cross Harbour, Heron Quays and Canary Wharf
  • The runners the head back east at Blackwall, running through Poplar and Limehouse and passing the Tower of London once again
  • With this, the run enters its City of London stretch, following Lower Thames Street and Upper Thames Street through Tower Hill, Monument and Cannon Street before dropping on the Victoria Embankment at Blackfriars
  • The route then continues along the Victoria Embankment until Westminster Bridge, when runners move inland and run along St James’s Park, reaching Buckingham Palace and running the final stretch down The Mall to the Finish Line.

See a visualisation of that entire route in the video below.

Where Does It Start?

The London Marathon starts in Greenwich Park, with multiple staggered start points to help manage the huge volume of people.

Where Does It Finish?

The London Marathon ends on The Mall, just south of Buckingham Palace.

Where Can I Watch?

Spectators are welcome to watch the London Marathon along the entire 26 mile stretch, but we recommend steering clear of Greenwich Park and St James’s Park, the two busiest sections. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London are popular spots, because you can see the runners going in both directions. In the City of London, there are plenty of viewing spots and great vibes to boot.

TV Coverage

If you can’t make it down to London, the BBC also provides comprehensive TV coverage as follows:

  • BBC One: 08.30 AM–2.15 PM
  • BBC Two: 2.15–3 PM
  • BBC Online and iPlayer: 1–6 PM
  • BBC Two: 6–7 PM (highlights)
Marcel Hug (SUI) crosses Tower Bridge as he leads the Elite Men's Wheelchair Race during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023

Marcel Hug (SUI) crosses Tower Bridge as he leads the Elite Men’s Wheelchair Race during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023. © Thomas Lovelock for London Marathon Events/TCS London Marathon.

How Long Is It?

Like all good marathons, the London Marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards long (that’s 42.195 kilometres).

Time wise, it usually takes men four and a half hours and women closer to five hours, though elite runners aim for much quicker than this, typically two and a half hours or less.

What Landmarks Are Along The Route?

Runners will spot the following landmarks as they jog along:

  • Queen’s House & National Maritime Museum
  • Cutty Sark
  • Tower Bridge & The Tower of London
  • Canary Wharf
  • The Tower of London (again)
  • The London Eye
  • Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament
  • Buckingham Palace
Participants pass through Parliament Square during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023

Participants pass through Parliament Square during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023. © Joe Toth for London Marathon Events/TCS London Marathon.

Can I Still Enter?

Sadly the time to enter the 2024 London Marathon has long passed – but check out our guide to signing up to run the famous race to get ahead of the masses next year. As a general rule, ballot entries for the following year close on the next Friday after the marathon takes place. In short, we expect ballot entries for the 2025 London Marathon to close on Friday 26 April 2024.

Virtual Entry

If you missed out on entering or simply can’t make it anyway, you can still enter the London Marathon virtually, completing the 26.2 miles however and wherever you are able to. You can run a route of your choice on Sunday 21 April 2024, and even break the mrathon up into stages if you need to. Those who cannot take part on 21 April due to religious reasons can complete their race on the next available day and upload their results manually. Visit tcslondonmarathon.com to learn more.

 

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Do You Have To Pay To Enter?

Yes: the fee to enter the London Marathon 2024 was £69.99. The same is true for entrants running for a charity, who usually pay a registration fee between £50 and £100, depending on the charity. They also then have to commit to raising extra money for the charity they’re running on behalf of.

How Many People Enter The London Marathon Each Year?

As you can imagine, the London Marathon is a popular race. 2023 was the biggest race yet, with over 48,000 runners taking part (and massively up from the 40,643 that took part in 2022). There’s limited spaces available, so it’s important to start planning early if you want to get involved.

Kelvin Kiptum (KEN) celebrates as he crosses the finish line on The Mall to win the Elite Men’s race at The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023

Kelvin Kiptum (KEN) celebrates as he crosses the finish line on The Mall to win the Elite Men’s race at The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023. © Bob Martin for London Marathon Events/TCS London Marathon

Who Won The London Marathon In 2023?

In 2023, Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands won the women’s elite race with a time of 2:18:33, while Kelvin Kiptum from Kenya won the men’s race with a time of 2:01:25, the second-fastest marathon in history (out by just 16 seconds) and setting a course record. Just six months later, Kiptum broke the world record by 34 seconds at the 2023 Chicago Marathon in October 2023. Kelvin tragically died in a car accident in February 2024.

DISCOVER

Find out more about the TCS London Marathon on the official website: tcslondonmarathon.com