The world’s greatest men and women marathon runners will go head-to-head over the marathon distance at the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 24 April. This year fields are considered the strongest to contest the race.
2015 champion Eliud Kipchoge takes on 2014 champion Wilson Kipsang when the two Kenyans head a strong field at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 24 April.
Kipchoge, Kipsang, Dennis Kimetto and Stanley Biwott head a strong Kenyan team in pursuit of Marathon glory and Rio 2016 Olympic places. The Kenyans will not have it all their own way with Ethiopia’s triple Olympic gold medallist, Kenenisa Bekele, and Eritrea’s hero from the Beijing World Championships, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie in the field.
In the women’s elite race, Tigist Tufa will return to the scene of her greatest triumph when she lines up to defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title. Mary Keitany was denied a third London Marathon victory last year and the Kenyan looks set to be Tufa’s main rival again in 2016. Dibaba, Cherono and Florence Kiplagat will also be in a strong field.
No fewer than 13 Britons are set to line up in the race with the hope of securing a place on Team GB’s For Rio. Londoner Scott Overall and Scot Callum Hawkins have already beaten the Olympic qualifying time and need to be in the first two Britons across the line to guarantee a ticket to South America.
This year will be one of the most unusual because Tim Peake will be running the course in Space, British astronaut Tim Peake is aboard the International Space Station but Tim will be using the RunSocial App to run the course on the day.
Another milestone will be made as a runner crosses the world-famous finish line in The Mall at the end of the Virgin Money London Marathon to become the millionth finisher in the history of the event.
The London Marathon is unique among international sporting events in that ordinary people can compete with the best in the world, and that is what will happen this Sunday when over 35,000 people will be running the Marathon course of 26.2 miles.
The first London Marathon was held in 1981. 7,747 were accepted to race and there were 6,255 finishers, led home by the American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, who staged a dead heat at the finish on Constitution Hill. Joyce Smith broke the British record to win the women’s race.
The event was a massive hit with the runners, the thousands of spectators who lined the course, and viewers who followed the race on the BBC. As a result, the 1982 race received more than 90,000 applications from hopeful runners around the world. The entry was limited to 18,059.
The race has grown in size, stature and popularity ever since. Now established among the major events in the sporting calendar, the London Marathon is shown on television in more that 150 countries around the world.
A total of 882,946 runners have completed the London Marathon (1981 to 2012), while a record 37,227 people finished in 2012.
it is estimated that more than £500 million has been raised for hundreds of charitable causes by London Marathon runners since 1981.
If you are not competing you can join the hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the streets of London to cheer on the runners.
The course has three different starts on Blackheath that straddle the border between the Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich. These three routes eventually meet up at John Wilson Street in Woolwich by the Royal Artillery Barracks. The ‘race-line’ is marked out in blue on the road for the entire 26.2 miles.
After about six miles, the runners cross the Meridian Line that marks the transition from East to West and pass the Royal Naval College at Greenwich.
They turn right to the Cutty Sark before heading on to Surrey Quays and along Jamaica Road to Tower Bridge at around 12 miles.
Runners then cross the Thames, turning east along The Highway, over the halfway mark, into Wapping and on to the Isle of Dogs, through Canary Wharf, before returning back along The Highway and passing the Tower of London at 22.5 miles.
The course drops down to follow the Thames along Victoria Embankment and on to the Houses of Parliament where it turns towards St James’s Park. Finally, The Mall, with Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch at each end, marks the glorious finish.
However to get the best out of your day, here are some London Marathon day tips:
AVOID THE START AREA
All the runners are entitled to free travel to the start, this means the trains will already be very busy. Even though extra trains are put on they can only have so many carriages so have great difficulty coping with large numbers of traffic.
If you are following a runner you would be better advised to use the time in the morning to find a good spot to watch the race.
PLACES TO AVOID
If you have watched the Marathon on the television, you might be tempted to watch from one of the iconic sights like the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and the Mall. Not surprisingly these get crowded very early and become very difficult to move about – Remember you might be in the same spot for hours, so easy access to toilets and food are important.
These busy areas include: • Greenwich town centre and the Cutty Sark. • Tower Bridge and the Tower Hill area. • Anywhere from mile 23 to the Finish in The Mall, especially around Westminster and Parliament Square.
April in London means that you could be hit by all four seasons in one day, so be prepared for rain, cold and sun.
It is not only the runners that will need food and drink so come prepared or stand near a food outlet.
You are likely to be on your feet all day so wear sensible and comfortable shoes.
Many roads are closed on race day, so the best way to get around is using the London Underground, Southeastern and Docklands Light Railway (DLR), who lay on extra services especially. Remember, the trains will be busy all day – expect it to be like rush hour. You’ll probably have to queue at some stations and the tube lines may be forced to shut temporarily throughout the day to help ease the crowds.
For more information and expected timings, visit the Marathon website here
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