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So, this is the big one. Well, for those of us from the UK it is anyway, international viewers may have more affinity for the big races in Paris, Berlin or New York but as a child growing up in England the London marathon (it actually started in 1981 - I was still very, very young back then!) was very much a significant part of the public consciousness, not least because for a whole day it would dominate one of only 3 terrestrial television channels that we had (the fourth channel, imaginatively named Channel 4 didn't start until the year after the marathon - just imagine the excitement at the sheer variety of additional viewing options!)
Anyway, I digress. I have yet to complete a full marathon (I have managed the half version of the Great North Run, and the prospect of having to turn round at the end of that and do it all again filled me with sheer terror!) and although I have grand ambitions of competing in New York or maybe Sydney one year then realisitically if I'm ever going to take part in one , this will be the one.
Not that taking part in the London marathon (officially the Virgin London Marathon since sponsorship began in 2008) is simply a case of turning up - there is a ballot system for entries for non-elite athletes which makes getting to take part literally a lottery. Another option is to run for charity (as I did in the GNR - it was the only way I could guarantee that I would stay motivated!) but this requires the ability to raise a minimum threshold in donations, and also means getting in early as even the charity race slots fill up very quickly.
The wheelchair event is the first to start, at 8.55am. The marathon start time is then officially 9.15am for the elite women athletes and 10.00am for the elite men and main race competitors.
The route traverses the city as follows:
Start in Greenwich Park
Old Royal Navy College
The Cutty Sark
Isle of Dogs
Tower of London
Finish on The Mall
The official site has an excellent interactive map of the course, highlighting the main landmarks and features:
The range of TV and online coverage of the marathon has increased markedly in recent years. You can watch the London marathon online stream here:
There is also the option for UK viewers to watch the marathon live on the BBC via the excellent iPlayer service, BBC TV coverage starts at 8.30am on BBC2 then switches to BBC1 at 9.55am:
There is also of course the usual range of video streams on Youtube, mostly uploaded by spectators, although there is some excellent "on-board" coverage from participating athletes too:
If you're planning on being in London or anywhere in the southern part of the UK for the marathon weekend and looking for somewhere to stay you can check out availability and make online reservations for local hotels here.
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