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The London Marathon – Tips for Spectators and Runners

london marathon

Whether you’re a runner or a spectator, the London Marathon is a national institution, and an event that is beamed out all over the world.

This year’s race is held on 13 April and despite the risk of April showers, thanks to the rather unpredictable British weather, the capital will be jam-packed with those wanting to cheer on their nearest and dearest, lining the streets along the route. Check the London Met Service for weather updates.

If you’re a runner, well done you is all I can say! Good luck, and remember the plasters! In that case, read all the information in your race pack very carefully to make sure you’re well organised for your big day. If however you’re a spectator, like I’ve been previously, then there are a few tips you need to bear in mind, to get the most out of your memorable day.

Comfort is everything!

You might want to glam up, just in case you happen to be on camera, but believe me, after you’ve been standing for around the six hour mark, you’ll be glad you went down the comfort route. Standing still might mean you’re chilly too, so the things to remember here are – comfortable shoes, easy to remove and put back on jacket, and waterproof (just in case, although it’s quite likely, this is Britain after all). This isn’t a fashion show.

Get there early

For the best spot, you need to get there early; it’s common sense really. Along the most popular parts of the route the crowd could be quite deep, and if you want a front row spot, you’re going to have to pay for it by getting there well ahead of time.

Do your homework

The route does change slightly from year to year, so do your homework and check the route for your particular year, to get the best spot (Interactive map of this year’s route). The starting line and the finishing line are popular, but maybe you’d prefer to be mid-route, it’s up to you, but remember to plan ahead.  

Make sure your camera is well charged

Like we mentioned before, this is a long day, so make sure your essential electricals, such as your camera or phone, are well charged up ahead of time, and maybe clear down that memory card so you can easily snap away without worrying about running out of room. Also consider a wrist strap to keep everything safe.  

Leave those valuables at home

The city is a busy place at the best of times, but on marathon day you’re looking at huge crowds, which is a breeding ground for pickpockets, and it’s also far too easy to drop or lose things. Leave the glam stuff at home, or the gadgets, and travel with only necessary items.  

Stay hydrated

This isn’t just advice for the runners! Whether the sun is shining or not, keep drinking, and by that I mean water and juice! Yes, you’re probably going to have to answer a call of nature at some point, but not drinking so you don’t have to move isn’t going to do your general health much good, and you’ll have a headache to top it all off.

Give some thought to public transport

Whatever you do, don’t try to drive around the city on marathon day, as most of the roads will either be closed or gridlocked with traffic. Instead, look at the Tube, or book accommodation very close to the city centre so you can walk. Why not make a full weekend of it? Yes, it will be more expensive to stay in hotels and boarding houses at this time of year, but you only live once and all that.

As you can see, some serious thought and planning needs to go into attending the London Marathon, just to watch it, let alone running it! Watching the charity runners in their fun fancy dress, or cheering on the serious contenders will be much more fun if you go down the route of comfortable shoes and clothing, believe me!

If you’re a spectator, since the tube is likely to to be fairly crowded, you may prefer to stay somewhere that’s within walking distance or short cab from the spot on the route you want to take up. Look for an affordable option in a centrally located area e.g Kensington.

Keeping up with race updates.

While normal news channels are likely to be covering the race closely, you can also follow the official London Marathon pages on social media for any updates and pre-race excitement e.g., their Facebook.

photo credit: tompagenet cc

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