Overall Rating
Overall Rating (28 Reviews)
4.1
(28 Ratings)  (28 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.6
SCENERY
4.1
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.2
Since its inaugural running in 1981, the London Marathon has developed a global reputation for its fast, record-setting course. Each year the London Marathon hosts representatives from more than 50 countries to compete on this world stage. Elite runners compete for a portion of £150,000, while the fairly flat, city … MORE
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Recent reviews

    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '23

    BOTTOM LINE: Though he died more than a century before his hometown marathon was born, long-time Londoner Charles Dickens' words still ring true: It was the best of times, it was … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: Though he died more than a century before his hometown marathon was born, long-time Londoner Charles Dickens’ words still ring true: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. On the one hand, I did complete my sixth World Marathon Major and earn my Six Star Medal in London (best of times); on the other, my finish time was easily a personal worst for a road marathon (worst of times, literally) for reasons outside my control and which could have been avoided. To be clear, I have mad respect for any event that raises as much money for charity as London does and which bills itself as the largest annual fundraising event on the planet. Supporting charitable causes has become, in essence, its raison d’être. That said, and despite its global popularity and party atmosphere, London was hands-down my least favorite of the six World Marathon Majors.

    If you’re reading this and are not a UK resident, odds are you have no choice but to run London—you’re more than likely somewhere along the path to completing the six Majors (including London) in order to earn what is arguably the sport’s most coveted award, the Six Star Medal. I don’t blame you in the least—it’s an epic journey with an enviable payoff. And if you’ve run any of the other five Majors (Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York City and Tokyo), you know they’re all crowded races that pack thousands of fast-moving runners into limited space. And yet, I enjoyed them all. But when London posted on its Facebook page after the race that “The TCS London Marathon isn’t about running,” I couldn’t have agreed more. London hosts the world’s most popular 26.2-mile party, and as such it attracts a lot of first-timers and one-timers who are there to celebrate (not a bad thing) but who aren’t well-versed in the rules of the road (not a good thing). What set London apart from its fellow Majors was the appalling runner etiquette—dodging and weaving without looking, or throwing elbows and flapping arms wildly for the cameras or spectators, or stopping suddenly in their tracks without warning, or running in costume with little thought given as to how a bulky, oversized outfit might navigate such tight quarters. (London prides itself on the number of Guinness World Records set annually by costumed runners, so do expect to share the road with all manner of landmarks, superheroes, and extinct or endangered species.) To be sure, the lion’s share of the field was competent and mindful of their fellow runners. But every big-city marathon resembles a congested freeway in its choreographed flow of movement, and it doesn’t take long for careless (or reckless) behavior to cause avoidable accidents.

    Case in point, in mile 14 I was side-swiped by a larger runner who didn’t bother to check his blind spot before cutting sharply across traffic to visit his cheering section on the sidelines. And in mile 18, I was forced to jam on the brakes after the runner ahead of me stopped suddenly to walk without warning. Together the two incidents caused an ankle injury that forced me to walk much of the remainder of the race. And walking during a marathon when you had no plans to do so sucks. Aside from a sprained ankle caused by my own carelessness in Nevada years ago, London was the first time I’ve ever injured myself during a race. The whole day felt more like a trail race than a road race in the amount of vigilance required, my eyes constantly scanning the ground ahead of me as I tried to avoid being stepped on or running into someone else. Spread that mental focus across 26.2 miles, and you’d better believe it takes a toll on physical performance.

    (On a related note—if you do intend to run a sub-4-hour marathon in London, I’d recommend that on your race application you estimate your projected finish time on the speedy side, because presumably the closer you can get to the faster, more serious runners near the front, the thinner the crowds and the less chaos/fewer costumes you’ll have to contend with.)

    For better or worse—and for many runners this is their favorite aspect of the race—London is also the LOUDEST marathon you’ll ever run. Admittedly I’m sensitive to volume, and so I tend to eschew loud, boisterous marathons in favor of smaller, quieter affairs. Even so, as raucous as the previous five World Marathon Majors had been, none of them consistently achieved the decibel level of London, where the cacophony of wildly cheering spectators started almost immediately and never let up. Not to mention that at several places on the course (including one stretch in mile 7 where the course bottlenecked, forcing us to slow to a walk for several seconds), the close-packed throngs felt like they were almost on top of us. I felt like I went to a rave and a marathon broke out. Rambunctious crowd support and bedlam for the sake of bedlam may look great in a 30-second sizzle reel, but the reality for an introvert like me can be unnerving and border on sensory overload. But again, I recognize that for many runners that’s the best part of race day. Different strokes, I reckon.

    In the end, I feel like London’s ambition to throw the biggest running party on the planet prioritizes participant numbers over the runner experience. Hopefully this year was an outlier with its record number of finishers (48,791 per the results page), because in its 43rd year the organizers seem to have conflated “greatest marathon” with “biggest spectacle.” As a result, their race day has simply gotten TOO BIG. (For comparison, London totaled nearly 20,000 more finishers than when I ran an overcrowded Berlin Marathon in 2014 on similarly narrow streets.) For many runners and spectators, this amounted to a rollicking good time. And if you want to complete the World Marathon Majors and earn the Six Star Medal, you have no choice but to run London. But if you DO have a choice, and unless you have a specific reason to visit London (a city devoid of natural beauty and still fixated on the monarchy), I’d say do yourself a favor and skip it in favor of one of the many other excellent European marathons in a more interesting city. With so many other brilliant marathons in beautiful and rewarding destinations, London is simply not worth the hassle, the stress, and the hype—not unless you happen to be a UK resident, a raging extrovert (e.g. the runner cupping your hand to your ear and urging the already-deafening crowds to cheer even louder), or a serious Anglophile.

    Independent from the marathon itself, I’d be remiss not to give a shout-out to the pros at Marathon Tours & Travel, who did a terrific job of organizing and executing for the 450 runners & 650 guests they hosted in London. MT&T has built and nurtured relationships with events like the London Marathon for 45 years, and it’s one of the reasons they’re the best in the industry. Sure you’ll pay a bit of a premium for their service—this is their business, after all—but if you’re an American who wants to run (and experience) London with minimal hassle, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Tell ’em Mike from RaceRaves sent you!

    PRODUCTION: Admittedly it takes an enormous amount of time, resources and careful planning to pull off a race day as big and bombastic as London, and for that the organizers deserve huge credit. Not many races require four separate start lines to host nearly 50,000 runners, and as such it’s tough to fault the organizers for the 2½ hour wait I experienced from the time I stepped off the shuttle bus in Greenwich Park to the time I started running. (On the bright side, I’ve never seen so many Portaloos at a start line.) Despite being held across the city and an hour from our hotel, the pre-race expo too was masterfully laid out with enough packet pick-up kiosks to prevent long wait times plus a host of interesting speakers, vendors and events including the two candidate races vying to become the next World Marathon Majors, Cape Town and Sydney.

    As expected, the temporary seating and fencing set up around Buckingham Palace for the Coronation inconvenienced runners and spectators alike. Fortunately, that was a one-time annoyance and not something future runners will have to contend with.

    My biggest issue with London, as detailed above, is that the organizers cram their 50,000 runners onto some of the narrowest roads I’ve ever run, roads made narrower in places by the crush of spectators standing several deep on either side. Even as the notoriously crowded World Marathon Majors go, London was excessive in this respect. (See for yourself in the official race photo I’ve uploaded, taken at mile 7.) And my concerns were validated by the fact that I ended up injured due to runner recklessness and had to walk much of the second half of the race as a result—not how I’d hoped to experience my sixth Major. Try as it might, London is not New York City, and more is not necessarily better when it comes to the city’s narrow roads. After celebrating its largest marathon ever in 2023, it feels like now’s the time to pump the brakes and let some of the air out of London’s balloon before it blows up in someone’s face.

    SWAG: As with most of the other World Marathon Majors, the swag was minimal but sufficient. This included a blue short-sleeve New Balance tee depicting London landmarks of interest in yellow silhouette, along with a finisher’s medal that displays the year prominently on front with those same urban landmarks subtly embossed on the back. The medal looks suspiciously like the 2022 version, which is perfectly fine if you’re Boston with its iconic blue-and-yellow unicorn, not so much if you’re London and seemingly relying on your status to excuse your lack of creativity. On the plus side, London may be the first medal I’ve earned with braille on the front, which apparently translates to this year’s race slogan, “WE FINISHED TOGETHER.”

    One design note for future editions of the London Marathon: the race desperately needs a new logo. Since TCS became the title sponsor in 2022, the logo has been a stylized “LM” that feels apologetic and secondary to the TCS branding. The logo doesn’t stand out on any medium on which it’s used, and nobody who sees my London Marathon tee will recognize it for what it is. So it’s time for London to take a cue from Boston (unicorn), Berlin (Brandenburg Gate) and NYC (Statue of Liberty) and seize on one of its iconic landmarks—I’d suggest Big Ben or the Tower Bridge—as the centerpiece of a new logo for 2024 and beyond.

    I also went home with my own Six Star Medal, which was all the swag I needed and the only reason I’d opted to run London in the first place. Mission accomplished!

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    dionnewaugh FIRST-TIMER '23

    This was the best race ever! You will not find any better crowds cheering you on throughout, more offers of free beer while you’re running and more beautiful and historic … MORE

    This was the best race ever! You will not find any better crowds cheering you on throughout, more offers of free beer while you’re running and more beautiful and historic sights! This was the first marathon where I was so buoyed by the crowds that I actually ran faster in the final six miles than when I started. It was magical, fun and just an incredible experience

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    marthamusto FIRST-TIMER '23

    I agree with all that the other reviews said. I was disappointed in the lack of information on the website. No map of the start area or finish area. The … MORE

    I agree with all that the other reviews said. I was disappointed in the lack of information on the website. No map of the start area or finish area. The official app was not released until the week of the race. On a positive note, the people of London showed up big time for us! Crowd support rivaled NYC.

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    PhotoRun FIRST-TIMER '23

    London, one of the great world cities, for all its size exudes warmth, charm, history, world class food, delightful sightseeing, friendly pubs, exceptional public transportation, gorgeous green spaces, easy day … MORE

    London, one of the great world cities, for all its size exudes warmth, charm, history, world class food, delightful sightseeing, friendly pubs, exceptional public transportation, gorgeous green spaces, easy day trips, and literally something for everyone. Worthy of wandering and discovery. Thus, London is perfect for the entire family.

    As one of the Abbott Marathon Majors, London is exceptionally well organized (with, in my opinion, one flaw): an accessible expo, comfortable start area, enthusiastic spectators (the best I have ever seen/heard), easy underground travel so spectators can follow you along the course, and with an exciting finish at Buckingham Palace. My only complaint? NOT enough toilets along the course! In 2023 every toilet area had a queue of several minutes.

    Be aware the course uses well paved but narrow streets and regularly has pedestrian crossing point even more narrowed. Thus, the course was moderately congested throughout the race. The frequent turns in the city added to the congestion BUT the views of this historic city were quite enjoyable. Despite carefully following the blue, optimum race line, I still added 0.5 miles to my course distance.

    Advice? First, savor this generally flat race course through one of the world’s great cities; in my opinion, this is not the race for your PR. Secondly, in 2023 a number of runners became ill with COVID and other problems; travel, crowds, and training stress increase your risk for illness. Even without a pandemic take precautions to stay healthy before your race.

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    ed.konaniah FIRST-TIMER '23

    There were so many runners and kind of crowded. Certain route was narrow and created traffic jam. Water station wasn’t on both sides and not every mile and energy drink … MORE

    There were so many runners and kind of crowded. Certain route was narrow and created traffic jam. Water station wasn’t on both sides and not every mile and energy drink only available in 3 different locations.

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    Randyruns FIRST-TIMER '23

    way, way too many slow runners in the front. A good marathon requires runners to post a previous time to get in a certain corral. I'm thinking 80% of the … MORE

    way, way too many slow runners in the front. A good marathon requires runners to post a previous time to get in a certain corral. I’m thinking 80% of the runners were not in the proper corral.

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    [email protected] REPEAT RUNNER '23

    The slower runners started before faster runners, so I was always being passed on the course. Good for me, bad for them. Long lines for the toilets on the course. … MORE

    The slower runners started before faster runners, so I was always being passed on the course. Good for me, bad for them.
    Long lines for the toilets on the course. They ran out of toilet paper.

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    pshuster FIRST-TIMER '23

    I’ve run Boston, NYC, Chicago and have never felt this crowded in a race. I was constantly elbowed and one runner actually tripped me causing me to fall on my … MORE

    I’ve run Boston, NYC, Chicago and have never felt this crowded in a race. I was constantly elbowed and one runner actually tripped me causing me to fall on my hands and knees. Even for a WMM- this was too crowded

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    Ironeagle51 FIRST-TIMER '23

    The race starts in this quaint little English town and ends at Buckingham Palace. The crowds are massive along the course. People a packed against the barriers sometimes 2 and … MORE

    The race starts in this quaint little English town and ends at Buckingham Palace. The crowds are massive along the course. People a packed against the barriers sometimes 2 and 3 deep cheering for everyone. There are DJs and random houses with music blasting. It is a party for 26.2 miles. It was raining continuously at the beginning and it was still packed with people. The best cheer zone is at Mile 21 Run Dem Crew which is amazing. I’ve run 5 big city marathons (Tokyo, Chicago, Marine Corps, Richmond and now London) and London is my favorite. I would run it again but next time I will bring my own sport drink. There are only 4 sport drink stops the 1st being at Mile 9. I was so depleted of electrolytes by the time I got to Mile 9.

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    PatMangeot FIRST-TIMER '23

    Well organized. Flat scenic course was awesome. Crowd support phenomenal. There were areas of the course that was narrow and created much congestion. MORE

    Well organized. Flat scenic course was awesome.
    Crowd support phenomenal. There were areas of the course that was narrow and created much congestion.

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    JTEE SPECTATOR '23

    No reasonable views for the spectators because of all the walls, fences, canvasses, trucks, and security. Running has always struggled to pull in spectators- and this event should be a … MORE

    No reasonable views for the spectators because of all the walls, fences, canvasses, trucks, and security. Running has always struggled to pull in spectators- and this event should be a blueprint on how not to do it.

    The Grand Stands were empty because no one could get into them. The camera views on TV showed how empty they were.

    Some moron decided to develop a 1-way system around the Palace, which is the opposite of convenient. The race stewards are telling people to ‘move on’ to a viewing area as families were trying to watch their Runners. But where is the viewing area? Watching families with children looking for their runners- what a disappointment. 🤦🏽‍♀️

    Who knows if it has to do with the upcoming coronation, but as a resident of London- this Event was just awful.

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    lchristensen44 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The race itself was great. The course is relatively flat and all paved. From the start to the finish there were spectators cheering for the runners along with entertainment along … MORE

    The race itself was great. The course is relatively flat and all paved. From the start to the finish there were spectators cheering for the runners along with entertainment along the way. Running past Cutty Sark, on the Tower bridge, up a hill towards Big Ben and finishing by the palace was really cool.
    The expo is quite a distance from the touristy area of London. I went as part of a tour but you could navigate there via public transportation. If you do that, watch the news as in 2022 there was a rail workers strike the day before the race (which only lasted one day). The expo was efficient at getting your bib but the New Balance shop was like Black Friday in the 1990’s. Unlike some expos, the only apparel seemed to be New Balance who was a race sponsor.
    The starting villages were about a 1 hour bus ride from my hotel. Again, I was with a tour who drove us. Because I had a later start time I had to sit in a grassy field for a few hours. Be prepared for the elements as there were no places to hide had it rained. The starting village had plenty of porta potties and the starts themselves were very well organized. The water stations are really long and hand out full bottles of water. I carried a hand held bottle that I refilled when needed.
    My family waited to see me run near Big Ben and I was shocked that they saw me. My husband uses Find My Friends to track me while in a race. The race has an efficient way to allow spectators to cross busy roads that are part of the race route. Regarding the finish, we scouted a spot to meet afterwards. I’d recommend that because it’s really crowded after runners cross the finish line. Runners get their race shirts in the finish line. I guess they are unisex. As a petite woman mine looks like I’m a child wearing my dad’s clothes. I also heard that if you finish later, like me, that all the XS are gone. I got a bottle of water, an electrolyte drink, pretzels, and some sort of very dry oatmeal bar in my finisher bag. If you want something else, prepare accordingly.
    All in all, I had a great experience and would recommend the race.

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    lancenull FIRST-TIMER '22

    Failed at entering through the lottery several years, so I finally got in with Runbuk (travel). The history, sights, and support on this race are fantastic. Running around the Cutty … MORE

    Failed at entering through the lottery several years, so I finally got in with Runbuk (travel).
    The history, sights, and support on this race are fantastic. Running around the Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge, past Big Ben and past Buckingham Palace make this race unforgettable. Amazing crowd support, even for the later waves. Public transportation in London, and free rides on race day make it easy to get around to the expo, and to/from the race. Generous time limits make it friendly for slower runners / walkers. Also good for spectators to find you in several areas along the course.

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    VinhHoang FIRST-TIMER '22

    The highlights of running across the Tower Bridge at the midway point and through Westminster at the end are amazing! It's very beautiful at the start area and the first … MORE

    The highlights of running across the Tower Bridge at the midway point and through Westminster at the end are amazing! It’s very beautiful at the start area and the first couple of miles of the course. But much of the surroundings of much of the course look ordinary. When you turn the corner at Buckingham Palace you have 200m to go, there are people 10 deep yelling at all the runners. One of the most awesome places in the world to run! The only downside is it was disappointing not to have any food (except the oatmeal bar) post race! I had to walk 2.5 miles to my hotel before I could re-fuel at a local restaurant!

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    Flash FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was a first marathon race for me so I have nothing to compare it to, so for me it was a great experience an unreal atmosphere and incredible amount … MORE

    This was a first marathon race for me so I have nothing to compare it to, so for me it was a great experience an unreal atmosphere and incredible amount of support. The streets were lined on both sides with people shoulder to shoulder, people outside their houses with boom boxes and dj-ing, also people singing karaoke outside pubs and live bands. As this was run in October this year I got lucky with the weather, normally it would be cold and wet for this time of year but it was very mild and dry on the day, the sun even came out in the afternoon. The event was well organised, there was 4 assembly points blue, red, green and yellow so you know beforehand which one you are in. There was plenty of porta loos in the assembly area but large queues formed quite quickly once people started arriving. The course is a fairly flat course with a fair few bends, I somehow accumulated 27.35 miles on it and after speaking to a couple that evening they said it could have been from me taking the bends wide so accumulating more distance overall, if only I knew this. There was plenty of water stations but only 4 stations where they gave cups of Lucozade Sport energy drink out starting at mile 9 and only 2 stations where they handed out Lucozade energy gels in miles 19 and 22, so I would advise you take your own gels if you plan to start fuelling earlier in the race. There is some great landmarks to see on the route such as the Cutty Sark Ship, the run over Tower Bridge and also seeing the London Eye and Big Ben before the final stretch to the finish line with Buckingham Palace behind you. At the finish you are presented with your finishers t-shirt and medal and a bag with some drinks and a snack in. The medal was very nice and had good weight to it. Overall I’m very happy with the experience and would definitely run it again.

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 08, 2022 at 8:29pm

    Congrats on your first marathon, Neil! 👏 There's no better feeling than crossing that finish line, and no better place to do it than London. Glad to hear you lucked… MORE

    Congrats on your first marathon, Neil! 👏 There's no better feeling than crossing that finish line, and no better place to do it than London. Glad to hear you lucked out on the weather, too. Re: the distance, 27.35 is a bit far for simply taking the bends wide (which is almost unavoidable in a race that large, I do the same and typically measure 26.5), so your GPS may have been a bit off. But I'm glad you had a great experience and a brilliant start to your WMM journey. And thanks for your excellent review! LESS

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    hbr245b FIRST-TIMER '21

    After many years of entering the lottery for the London Marathon, I bit the bullet and opted for a charity spot. Originally scheduled for April 2020, postponed to October 2020 … MORE

    After many years of entering the lottery for the London Marathon, I bit the bullet and opted for a charity spot. Originally scheduled for April 2020, postponed to October 2020 and finally run in October 2021, it’s easy to see why it’s next to impossible to get in the lottery at almost every runner was wearing a shirt from a charity!
    Easy to get to the start (oddly they advise times to arrive at Blackheath etc but not the time the train would depart from Charing Cross / Victoria / London Bridge). Male (& female!) urinals at the start as well as flushing port-a-potties where the lines were well organised.
    Due to covid, there was a rolling start which I did not expect and I had to walk slowly toward the starting line waiting for my garmin to sync!
    Mostly flat (long downhill in mile 3) but some narrow streets (including the aptly named Narrow St in Docklands) mean that this is not a fast race if you are “in the pack”.
    Tremendous crowd support along almost the entire route (marked contrast to the somewhat thin crowds in Berlin the prior Sunday) but especially around Greenwich, Tower Bridge, Docklands and the last few miles along Embankment, Parliament Square etc.
    A random stranger saw me on tv in the UK & made a donation to my charity (JDRF) – I read this in an email while having a pint in the pub after the race and it brought a tear to my eye.

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    cassidymegan3 Apr 28, 2022 at 12:38pm

    Thanks for the heads-up on the long downhill at mile 3. Downhills are not my friends.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the long downhill at mile 3. Downhills are not my friends.

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    Definitely a race that has been on my bucket list for a while. The start area is quite organized, and I really liked the aid stations, but unfortunately it was … MORE

    Definitely a race that has been on my bucket list for a while. The start area is quite organized, and I really liked the aid stations, but unfortunately it was extremely crowded the entire course, even more so than Berlin. There are also quite a few turns on the course that I think would be improved if it were straightened out. The swag was also not amazing — we just got an ugly orange shirt. Maybe Covid is to blame, but I definitely had higher expectations for a world marathon major that many people call their favorite. Some bright sides: Crossing Tower Bridge was simply amazing, and the finish line near Buckingham Palace is incredible.

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    cassidymegan3 Apr 28, 2022 at 12:37pm

    Awwww. "More Crowded than Berlin...." perhaps I need to revise my expectations for this race. Good to know. thank you!

    Awwww. "More Crowded than Berlin...." perhaps I need to revise my expectations for this race. Good to know. thank you!

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 08, 2021 at 7:46pm

    Congrats, Matt! 🇬🇧 Sorry to hear race day didn't live up to expectations, but glad you got to experience the pomp & circumstance of London. I'm hoping to do the… MORE

    Congrats, Matt! 🇬🇧 Sorry to hear race day didn't live up to expectations, but glad you got to experience the pomp & circumstance of London. I'm hoping to do the same next year, so your review helps me set expectations since I remember how crowded the course got in Berlin. Congrats too on notching another World Marathon Major... five down & Boston to go is a great place to be. With Antarctica & Queenstown in between, you've got an amazing year ahead. Look forward to following along! LESS

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    mnjogger FIRST-TIMER '21

    London is not flat: Granted it's not hilly like Big Sur or Marine Corps, but it's not level flat. This was my first covid-era marathon, so things were different from … MORE

    London is not flat: Granted it’s not hilly like Big Sur or Marine Corps, but it’s not level flat. This was my first covid-era marathon, so things were different from the 27 other marathons I’ve run. The course was crowded the entire way in the wave I was in. You needed to be mindful of others running in front of you who either slowed down or stopped or others who darted across your path. Water bottles vs cups were given at water stops, so running with that was different. Energy drinks were given only at miles 9, 15, and 21 which seemed fewer stops than other marathons I’ve run. The medal this year was ordinary with “26.2” printed on it and no image emblematic of London like in previous years. No snacks were given at the end of the race, only water and a sport drink. These were the concessions we made to run together again- not the end of the world. Crossing Tower Bridge was the highlight of the run for me: It was simply a magnificent structure basking in the sun! What I’ll also remember most is the outstanding encouragement and support from the spectators along the majority of the course. I can’t say enough positive things about them! My training this season was not as robust as other years, and I finished in my anticipated time range. In terms of swag, they consisted of a T-shirt and the medal. Medals were placed in your post-race bag which you dropped off at the Expo days before the race. I missed the ceremony of someone hanging it on your neck congratulating you, but that too was another concession for covid.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 08, 2021 at 7:45pm

    Covid-era concessions aside, I'm glad you were able to enjoy the course itself since that's the centerpiece of race day. But I'm with you on details like the ceremony of… MORE

    Covid-era concessions aside, I'm glad you were able to enjoy the course itself since that's the centerpiece of race day. But I'm with you on details like the ceremony of a volunteer hanging the finisher medal around your neck; doing it yourself just isn't the same. Thanks for the thoughtful review David, this is very helpful since I'm eyeing London next year myself. And congrats on marathon #28; hopefully Tokyo 2022 lives up to expectations and then some! LESS

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    Jen_L FIRST-TIMER '19

    I was one of the lucky few to get into the London Marathon through the overseas ballot. Technically, I got in the year before but had to "defer" due to … MORE

    I was one of the lucky few to get into the London Marathon through the overseas ballot. Technically, I got in the year before but had to “defer” due to my work schedule (they don’t let you officially defer, but they will allow you to register, then forfeit/cancel, and re-register ahead of the mass registration the following year).

    London was my first World Marathon Major, and I had heard a lot of great things. The organization was top notch. There were 3 start areas; mine was a short walk from Blackheath train station. Transportation was smooth, but give yourself 90 minutes door-to-door if starting in central London. The starting area was huge (and this was only for 1/3 of the runners!). There was a giant screen showing the elite start. Lots of porta potties – fairly clean. They had hot coffee and tea! Which was excellent, though you have to carefully time that with the last bathroom run (my mistake). My only criticism was that the drop bag trucks took off 5 minutes EARLY. I almost didn’t make the last truck! Like any major race, the wave corrals take quite a long time to move through. I started the race about 45 minutes after the mass start first wave.

    The race starts off in quieter neighborhoods for the first few miles, and around the 5K mark, our start group merged with the 2 others. Because their waves started at different times, it was confusing because I’d see a pacer from one of the other groups for a completely different goal pace. I eventually figured out it was by color. The first big crowds were in Greenwich, and then after that there was a steady stream of supporters. I heard that there were almost half a million spectators! From the shirts around me, it seemed like most of the runners were raising money for charity, and so every few miles the charities had set up cheer stations. The crowds were absolutely amazing. I loved all of the Brits cheering runners on with hearty, “Well done!”s. 🙂

    There was plenty of water and Lucozade aid stations, where they were handing out large flip top plastic bottles. The pro was that these were easy to drink from, the con was the waste. I don’t think I finished an entire bottle before I chucked it. There was only one aid station that I can recall that had any food/gels. Many spectators were handing out jelly babies (British candy) but I didn’t want to chance it.

    The course was flat for the most part, and we totally lucked out with the weather. It was cool and cloudy but the rain stayed away. The highlight of the course was definitely running across Tower Bridge (just before the halfway point).

    From an organizational point of view, I was most impressed with the finishing chute. The finish line was nicely spread out, so you had a finish photo op mostly to yourself. Then I quickly got a medal, took a photo, grabbed a race shirt and bag of drinks and food, and got my checked bag. It was so efficient! Compared to other big races, we didn’t have to walk too far to get to the meeting area, maybe half a mile?

    The one thing I was very disappointed by was the finisher’s shirt. It is SO UGLY and so ill-fitting. Luckily, I bought a jacket from the expo, so at least I have something else with which to commemorate this race.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    M_Sohaskey Aug 25, 2019 at 9:00pm

    Brilliant! London is calling as my 6th Major (someday)... I'm not a huge fan of big-city races, so I love reading detailed recaps like yours to help inspire me and… MORE

    Brilliant! London is calling as my 6th Major (someday)... I'm not a huge fan of big-city races, so I love reading detailed recaps like yours to help inspire me and get me motivated. Great to hear you had such a memorable experience, and especially since this one was two years in the making. And those crowds sound off the chain, Tokyo was similar even in the rain. Congrats on winning the toughest lottery in the sport, and thanks for sharing your epic day... and if you're up for another Major, Chicago is tough to beat! LESS

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    kgiombi FIRST-TIMER '19

    This race was fantastic! It was so much fun and the miles flew by! I will recommend starting near the front of your corral. I didn't, and I regret it. … MORE

    This race was fantastic! It was so much fun and the miles flew by! I will recommend starting near the front of your corral. I didn’t, and I regret it. I could not find my stride and was continuously dodging folks. The finishing chute is probably one of the best finishes I have ever run! I want to run this race again!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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