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The Spectator’s Guide To the London Marathon


The London marathon is back for another lap this weekend, and while navigating the London marathon is pretty straight forward, being able to navigate the best spectator spots can be really tricky.

The 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon takes place Sunday 28th April, and the city will be swarming with runners and supporters alike. If you’re hoping to support a runner, or to just get wrapped up in the atmosphere, we’ve got all the information you need.

The London Marathon 2019 Start Times

09:05 – Elite Wheelchair Races
09:10 – World Para Athletics Marathon Championships Ambulant Athletes
09:25 – The Elite Women’s Race
10:10 – The Elite Men’s Race, British Athletics & England Athletics Marathon Championships and Mass Race

Best Spectator Spots

We’ve broken down the London marathon and identified the best spots for you so that you don’t have to run yourself tired looking for one. Road closures will be in place, so make sure you familiarise yourself with The London Underground, as it’ll be your best way of getting around.

Source: www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com

Miles 1-2 – Blackheath

To watch the beginning of the race, you will want to be in the vicinity of the south part of Greenwich park in south-east London. Keep in mind that the assembly points are for athletes but they will be heading east toward Woolwich and the Woolwich dockyard.

Miles 2-4 – Woolwich

Woolwich is a great place for catching the beginning of the race. Two minutes away from the race you can find the Dial Arch, the birthplace of Arsenal football club. The absence of pubs overlooking the race means that Woolwich isn’t likely to be heavily crowded making it a prime spot for watching the athletes fresh off the line.

Miles 4-8 – Greenwich

You’ll definitely want to get to Greenwich early if this is where you want to catch the London marathon. The spectator spots that Greenwich has to offer are very likely to be crowded. This is for good reason as Greenwich has much to offer with regards to pubs like the Gypsy Moth and the Old Brewery that overlook the race.

Greenwich is also home to The Cutty Sark, a 19th century tea clipper ship on display and may also open up its main deck to spectators as it did in 2018. This offers a unique vantage point of the race. Greenwich affords you the opportunity to cut across the River Thames through the Greenwich foot tunnel. This brings you out to the Isle of dogs at around the 16.5 mile mark and really lets you get the most out of the London Marathon.

Miles 8-12 – Rotherhide & Bermondsey

See the runners just before they cross the Tower Bridge at mile 12 as they run through Rotherhide and Bermondsey. If large crowds aren’t your thing then you’ll be relieved to know that the main advantage to spectating these areas is the freedom from large crowds, as the crowds tend to gravitate toward Greenwich, the Tower Bridge and the last two miles of the race.

Miles 12-14 – The Tower Bridge

The tower bridge is where a lot of the excitement is concentrated. Crossing the Tower Bridge and passing the tower of London marks the half-way milestone of the race and is also one of the most attractive destinations for those travelling from abroad thanks to its status as an iconic landmark. Understandably, this means that the Tower Bridge tends to be one of the busiest and loudest stretches of the race.

Miles 14-15 – Westferry

While spectating in Westferry you can catch the athletes shortly after passing their halfway milestone and before they enter the loop around the Isle of Dogs. The unique advantage of posting up here is that the athletes pass through Westferry twice, once at mile 14 and again at mile 21.

Miles 15-23 –  Isle of Dogs & Canary Wharf

The Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf offers some spectacular vantage points. This corner of London is home to all of the UK’s major firms and banks and has much to offer in terms of shopping opportunities, cafes and restaurants. Canary Wharf is only a stone’s throw away from Mudchute, 32 acres of picturesque nature reserve where you can get up close with dozens of farm animals including ducks, chickens, llamas, and pigs, as well as catch the race at mile 17.

Miles 23-25 – Victoria Embankment

The stretch along the north bank of the River Thames will be heavily crowded as the tension builds with the impending approach of the finish line. But this only adds to the excitement of being there. The Embankment will also bring you past some notable attractions such as the Millennium Bridge, the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben so be sure to bring your camera.

Miles 25-26 – St. James’s Park

In the last mile of the race the athletes must swing around the west side of St. James’s  park before racing down The Mall and crossing the finish line at Buckingham Palace. This will be the most crowded section of the race as friends, family and other loyal supporters go to support, and greet their athletes at the finish line.

But if you are fond of large crowds, and if you can get there early, the atmosphere at The Mall and St James’s park will be ecstatic. You’ll also have the opportunity to watch the faces of runners crossing the finish line and to join in on the celebrations with everyone St. James’s Park.