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Forget the marathon! Try one of these six alternative challenges instead

By Louise Schwartzkoff

The London Marathon is not the only endurance game in town. Louise Schwartzkoff searches the city for other activities that take strength, stamina and competitive zeal.

Knockout Speed Dating: Putney

Okay, so this does involve exercise, but with the added incentive of potential romance. Turn the hard work of speed dating into a hard workout by going toe-to-toe with hopeful singles in the boxing ring. After slogging it out, chat up your favourite sparring partner over drinks and healthy snacks. They say all's fair in love and war. That's doubtless truer than ever when love blooms in the ring. St Mary's Church. Putney Bridge. Mon Apr 25. £20.

The Homebaked Bake Off Battle: Baker Street

Skilled competitors, gut-clenching suspense, the elation of victory and the misery of defeat. As a spectator sport, baking competitions have it all. Bakers will bring their sweetest showstoppers, appropriately enough, to Baker St to be judged on taste and looks. There'll be masterclasses from champion bakers and treats to try. Ready, set, bake! Sherlock Holmes Hotel. Baker St. Sat Apr 23. Free.

Movie marathons: Leicester Square


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Grab your jim-jams and ingest caffeine liberally before settling in for an all-nighter at the Prince Charles Cinema. The independent West End venue was once famous for screening porn, but the programme has moved from sleaze to a blend of new-ish blockbusters, arthouse titles, horror, sci-fi and more. This weekend's marathons include back-to-back 'Hunger Games' and a celebration of films by Edgar Wright, from 'A Fistful of Fingers' to 'Shaun of the Dead'. As you stumble, bleary-eyed, to buy popcorn, keep an eye out for the ghost rumoured to haunt the upper levels. The Prince Charles Cinema. Leicester Square. Sat Apr 23. £20.

Food challenges: Hoxton Square


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Is there really any difference between runners who push themselves to exhaustion and the iron-gutted heroes who participate in Meat Liquor's Triple Chilli Challenge? Let's face it, both groups end up sweaty and a little bit sick, but bathed in ever-lasting glory. The burger joint's challenge is simple: ten minutes to scoff a burger, hot dog and fries, all packed with fiery mouthfuls of chilli and jalapenos. Can't stand the heat? Try Red Dog Saloon's Devastator Burger Challenge: ten minutes, one milkshake, a serve of fries and a burger the size of a man's head. Only 7 per cent of those who compete succeed. Meat Liquor. 74 Welbeck St, W1G 0BA. Bond St. Red Dog Saloon. 37 Hoxton Square, N1 6NN. Old St.

Loading Bar: Stoke Newington


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While brawny types battle for gold at the Olympics this summer, video gamers will also be heading to Rio for the inaugural eGames. We're pretty sure that makes gaming a sport. Flex your joystick-wielding muscles at this gaming bar, packed with retro arcade classics and recent hits. It's open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays; perfect for cocktail-fuelled gaming marathons. Olympians schlympians. How many of them can compete under the influence? Loading Bar. 97 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 8BX. Dalston Kingsland Overground

Longplayer: Trinity Buoy Wharf


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Musician Jem Finer's long-distance ambitions make marathon runners look like a bunch of pansies. His composition 'Longplayer' is designed to play without repetition for a thousand years. Visit the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf to hear the ever-changing sequence of chimes and bells played by a group of computers. Better be quick, it's only got 983 years to go. Trinity Buoy Wharf lighthouse. East India DLR. Sat and Sun until 2999. Free, donations welcome.

Illustration: Andrew Gibbs

Here's everything you need to know about the London Marathon.

Or get some insider knowledge with these London Marathon stories.


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