With just over a week until London Marathon 2018, my first blog will be dedicated to my 10 highlights of the London Marathon. I’ve ran London twice in 2015 & 2016, whilst taking a break in 2017 due to travelling around Australia being more appealing than running 26.2 miles. I fortunately won a club place with the Wimbledon Windmilers for 2018 however due to family commitments I’m now deferred to a confirmed place for 2019’s race.
Nevertheless, I’d love to share my experience and my top ten highlights of this fantastically flat race!
1. The London Underground
The London Marathon will start with an early journey over to Greenwich where the race begins, for me the underground was the start of what was an incredibly exciting but nervous day!
If you are a Marathon runner, TfL provides free transport on race day, everyone loves a freebie right?!
This isn’t why the underground makes it as a highlight, the journey into Greenwich will be full of spectators looking to get an early viewing space and other participants, who are energetic and encouraging. If it’s your first London Marathon they are what you need to put your nerves at ease. Many will tell you their highlights, not to worry and to enjoy the day!
2. Greenwich Park
This is the start line of the race, for me seeing the mass number of runners participating really overwhelmed me, it makes you think “wow I am part of something huge, and privileged to have a place on a race many people struggle to get into”, it’s a great feeling of euphoria and know you and 36,000 other people are all in it together and many raising money for amazing causes.
This leads on nicely to all those runners who are dressed up in the most ridiculous costumes. They really are running for a great cause. The costumes often put a great smile on my face throughout the route! Who doesn’t love being overtaken by a giant rhino or a man with a fridge attached to his back?!
My favourite costumes are the save the rhinos runners, this charity is very close to my heart and has brought a lot of awareness to the extinction of rhinos in the wild. For more insights on the rhinos I recommend the Wildlife Photographer Exhibition at the Natural History Museum which is currently on until 1st July 2018. There is a great photo story based around the poaching of Rhino horns and how naive many people across the world can be.
4. Cutty Sark – Mile 6
Cutty Sark is the first major landmark you will get to on route, hence why this is a highlight on the route for me. This is the 10K marker, and as you arrive at Cutty Sark, you have your first real glimpse of having 5 minutes of fame, as there is a large sweeping live camera which comes pretty close to the runners. Everyones’ spirits are lifted as they try to jump into view to wave at spectators watching from home in the early hours of Sunday morning. As you run around the ship the waves of spectators emerge, boosting much needed morale for the remaining 20 miles still to come.
5. Tower Bridge – Mile 13
Tower Bridge doesn’t need much description, you are at the half marathon point, with thousands of supporters. This is the only time you can run across the bridge with no traffic – enjoy it!
6. Mile 14/22 loop
Although this is a loop in the route, this was a highlight for me seeing runners at mile 22 and vice versa knowing I’d made it to the second half of the marathon and being able to shout support to others ahead and behind me on the route. This is a great spot for spectators too as they only need to cross the road to watch you at mile 22.
7. Mile 17-22: Canary Wharf and the tunnel of doom
I call this the tunnel of doom but I vaguely remember just after Canary Wharf we came into a tunnel, this for me was a highlight as it’s the only point on the route where there are zero spectators. You get a moment to yourself to compose yourself, take a break to stretch if needed and enjoy how far you’ve got.
8. Mile 23: 5k to go London Eye, The Embankment and Big Ben
You will come onto the embankment and see masses of spectators at this point, with the London Eye to your left and Big Ben straight ahead of you, this is the final 5K. It’s merely a park run which you can ace on a Saturday morning. No PBS likely on this Strava segment due to tired legs. Nevertheless, the crowd will help push adrenaline to your legs, and for me is one of the best highlights of the route knowing you are almost at the end!
9. Mile 25: Birdcage walk/Buckingham Palace
As you turn right at Big Ben, you are very almost near the finish line. It’s almost a home straight, but not before saying hello to the Queen. It would be rude not to hey?
10. Mile 26: The Mall
My final highlight, is the final 400m of the Mall, I honestly thought I’d have to walk the finish on my first attempt. But other runners help and encourage you to finish with a sprint finish. You may make it on to television too as the BBC film the finishers until 3pm! Enjoy this moment, before collecting your Finishers medal and taking that infamous finishers photos!
The only additional highlight post marathon, is reaping the rewards and toasting with a nice glass of bubbly!
Don’t forget, with a medal many restaurants and bars around London will be offering up free food and drinks! Make sure you check in advance who’s offering the best deals so you can cash in on a well deserved victory meal!
This post is dedicated to a group of colleagues who will be running London Marathon this year for sports aid, if you are feeling generous please sponsor them! You can also follow their journeys on Instagram @elleahbayley and @klysenko
Good Luck to everyone running, and also a shout out to look out for the Wimbledon Windmilers on route!