Everything you need to know about the London Marathon - from the start times, route, road closures, and how to follow people taking part
The Virgin Money London Marathon will see over 40,000 runners and thousands more fans take to the streets of Central London this Sunday (28 April).
The iconic race – now in its 39th year – is run over a largely flat course around the River Thames and spans 42.195 kilometres (26.219 miles).
The route has markers at one-mile intervals and passes through many of London’s iconic monuments, including the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.
London Marathon: Start times
09:05am – Elite Wheelchair Races
09:10am – World Para Athletics Marathon Championships Ambulant Athletes
09:25am – The Elite Women’s Race
10:10am – The Elite Men’s Race, British Athletics & England Athletics Marathon Championships and Mass Race
Watch the London Marathon on TV
The London Marathon will air in the UK on BBC One and Two, with coverage starting at 8:30am hosted by Gabby Logan.
8:30am – 10:00am on BBC Two
10:00am onwards on BBC One
Highlights of the race will be broadcast at 6pm on BBC Two and BBC Scotland
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London Marathon: Route
The marathon route has largely stayed the same through the last 38 years and this year is no different. The 2019 London Marathon will start at Blackheath heading east towards Woolwich before turning west and heading through the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, then crossing across Deptford, Rotherhite and onto the iconic Tower Bridge, which roughly marks the halfway point of the marathon.
The race then turns east again as it passes through Limehouse, Canary Wharf and around the Isle of Dogs before heading back into Canary Wharf for the final four-mile stretch, which will take runners from London Bridge to Parliament Square. The final mile will see runners sprint across St James Park and Horse Guard Parade, before ending the marathon on The Mall in front of the picturesque Buckingham Palace.
London Marathon: Road closures
There will be a number of road closures around Central London on the weekend of April 27 and 28 in preparation for and during the marathon.
Thankfully, there’s a brilliant interactive map (click the yellow button below) that outlines the route of the London Marathon, tells you which roads will be closed and where traffic will be diverted. Click on the red points on the interactive map to see between what times which roads will be closed. Most major points on the route will be closed from 8am until 7pm on Sunday. Alternatively, you can view and download a PDF of the London Marathon road closures.
London Marathon: Runners to watch
Like last year, this year’s marathon will be a showdown between two legends of long-distance running. Britain’s Sir Mo Farah and Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge. Farah is running his fourth marathon and his third in London. His last win was the Chicago Marathon last year, in which he set the European record.
However, he’s going up against a formidable foe in Kipchoge who will go down as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time. He not only won the London Marathon last year, but he has won all but one of the 11 marathons he has competed in. Not surprisingly, he starts as the overwhelming favourite this year.
Apart from Farah and Kipchoge, the other favourite is Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who won the London Marathon in 2012 and 2014. The women’s section is also dominated by two Kenyans in the form of Mary Keitany who came fifth last year, and Vivian Cheruiyot who won last year’s race.
Apart from the elite pack, there are four notable British athletes to keep an eye out for. Callum Hawkins returns to the London Marathon for the first time since 2016, when he won the marathon and qualified for the Rio Olympics. His main competition will be Dewi Griffiths who – on paper – is the fastest British runner after Mo Farah.
Among the women, Charlotte Purdue broke the 2 hour 30 minute barrier when she last raced in the 2017 London Marathon but injuries got the better of her last year. Her main competition will be last year’s British champion Lily Partridge, who also broke the 2:30 mark.
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London Marathon: Follow family and friends running the marathon
The best way to follow the 2019 London Marathon is to download the official app on Android and iOS. When you first launch it, you’ll be asked whether you’re a Spectator or Runner to see relevant information.
The app has three tabs at the bottom: Map, Tracking and Charity. Apart from a detailed route, Maps also lets you see points on interest along the course, including toilets, drink stations, and meeting points, which is useful if you’re planning to watch the marathon live on the streets of London among thousands of other supporters.
The Tracking tab will let you search for your friends and family by their running number and follow their progress, including their real-time location. You can track multiple people, so you know when they’re passing near you and how far they’ve progressed along the route.
This section also lets you track the elite runners in each category (Men, Women, Wheelchair men and Wheelchair Women) and you can also track Celebrity Runners and which charities they are running in support of. Some of the celebrities running this year include Virgin radio presenter Chris Evans, Classic FM presenter Kirsty Gallacher, former WTA Number One Amelie Mauresmo and former Rugby League player Jamie Peacock.
London Marathon: Best places to watch the marathon live
Last year’s London Marathon was officially the hottest on record with a temperature of 24.1 recorded at St James Park. This year’s weather is slated to be a little more forgiving for runners with a high of 14 and low of 9, according to the MET Office.
It’s always best to avoid crowded spots like the start point at Blackheath and the finish line around Buckingham Palace. Even though these are the best places to see multiple runners together at one go, its a good idea to leave these sections free for the runners and organisers to stick to race protocol. Other tourist spots like Tower Bridge and Cutty Sark provide an iconic backdrop for your Instagram photos and videos, but these can be equalled crowded unless you get there early.
The best place to watch the marathon is probably around the Isle of Dogs loop. It’s a long loop circling Canary Wharf going into Westferry Road and exiting at East Ferry Road. There are several DLR stations along the way, including Mudchute, Crossharbour and South Quay. Because its between miles 15 and 19, it’s a good place to take photos and videos because the runners won’t be hitting their stride. The final stretch along Victoria Embankment is another good area to watch the marathon because it’s only two miles away from the finish line and runners will probably need all the encounragement you can give them.
Regardless of where you’re watching the London Marathon from, remember to check public transport delays before leaving home, wear suitable clothing appropriate for the weather, and most importantly keep your valuables secured to you at all times.
Stream the London Marathon wherever you are
If you’re away from the country this weekend, there’s an easy way you can watch live coverage of the London Marathon. You’ll need a VPN to virtually connect to any of the UK servers, go to BBC iPlayer and login to your account. Remember you’ll need to have a valid TV license to use this.
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We’ve tried a variety of VPNs, but among all of them, we like NordVPN because you can use it on up to six devices at the same time, and they have successfully completed an audit that backs up its claims that they don’t log any user data.
Another good alternative is SurfShark VPN. Unlike Nord, there’s no restriction to the number of devices you can use it on. Despite it being one of the newer VPNs on the market, it has an impressive set of features and currently has the cheapest long-term plan among all the VPNs we’ve tested.