If we’re honest with ourselves, running 26.2 miles (twenty six point two!) dressed as Po from ‘Teletubbies’ is something that the majority of us Londoners will probably never be brave enough to attempt. Running a marathon is a truly gruelling feat requiring countless hours of training, so the 50,000 brave souls who are taking part London Marathon next Sunday April 23 2023 very much deserve our support.
Check out our route guide below to find the best spectating spots and track down nearby pubs and bars for when all that whooping and clapping leaves you feeling nearly as thirsty as the runners. Remember: your presence at this monumental sporting occasion makes it absolutely fine to drink lager or rosé in the street at 10am on a Sunday.
It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that everyone taking part laces up pretty early. There will be a series of starts between 9.40am and 11am, with short gaps in between to allow the course ahead to clear.
What landmarks can I spot on the London Marathon route?
If you hadn’t noticed, the marathon route is loooooong. Starting in Blackheath in south-east London and finishing right by Buckingham Palace, there are loads of famous things to see along the way, especially when you’re a spectator. Here are some of the things to look out for:
Mile 6: Cutty Sark
Mile 12: Tower Bridge
Mile 18: Canary Wharf
Mile 22: The Tower of London
Mile 25: The London Eye
Mile 25: Big Ben
Mile 26: Buckingham Palace
Which roads will be closed for the London Marathon?
Full details of road closures on Sunday October 2 are available here. The most significant ones are: Charlton Way, Shooters Hill Road, St John’s Park, Charlton Road, Old Dover Road, Little Heath, Charlton Park Lane, Artillery Place, John Wilson Street, Woolwich Church Street, Woolwich Road, Trafalgar Road, Creek Road, Evelyn Street, Surrey Quays Road, Salter Road, Brunel Road, Jamaica Road, Tower Bridge, The Highway (south side), Narrow Street, Westferry Road, East Ferry Road, Marsh Wall, North Colonnade, Poplar High Street, Commercial Road, The Highway, Byward Street, Upper Thames Street, Victoria Embankment, Birdcage Walk.
London Marathon route map, perhaps?
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The Start: Blackheath
Dillon Bryden for Virgin Money London Marathon
The start, which is between Greenwich and Blackheath, will be absolutely heaving. Your support, whether general or specific, will probably be more appreciated later on, but if you really don’t want to miss the kick-off, get down early to guarantee your spot, then maybe grab a swift half at one of Greenwich’s historic pubs afterwards.
Transport: Greenwich/Cutty Sark DLR or Greenwich or Blackheath rail.
Mile 12-13 (20 km)
Thomas Lovelock for Virgin Money London Marathon
Rock up to Tower Bridge early enough and you'll bag the perfect spot for a photo opp as the runners storm across the iconic landmark. Transport: Tower Hill.
Further down from Tower Bridge is where the race doubles back on itself. Take up a position on the central reservation and you'll see the runners twice – and the first of the runners going east may see the elite women heading back in the opposite direction. Transport: Shadwell DLR or rail.
Just over 10 miles to go and the race is starting to hot up. The more serious of the runners are starting to up their pace, leaving the rest to grit their teeth and continue at a steady slog. Transport: Canary Wharf tube or Heron Quays DLR.
Taking the kids to see a family member run? This is a good spot to choose – very handy for a visit to Mudchute Farm. Encourage the kids to lend support to the rest of the competitors, too; it's not so crowded here and their cheers could make a real difference. Transport: Mudchute DLR.
A dull stretch along Commercial Road has been the honorary cheering zone for the city's running collective Run Dem Crew since 2012 – and they sure know how to celebrate the big day. Cosy up next to the crew to get an eyeful of confetti and massive signs as they dance along to Radiance Audio's brilliant soundsystem blasting tunes out of Limehouse town hall. Transport: Limehouse DLR (Pic: Ash Narod)
The course takes the runners through the underpass here – catch them as they emerge into daylight having wrestled with their demons in a rare moment of privacy. Transport: London Blackfriars rail. (Pic: Joe Toth for Virgin Money London Marathon)
The final stretch: Mile 25 to 26.2
The runners are more spread out and more visible now, and the goal is within their grasp. Cheer them on towards the finish, then head for the alphabetically signposted meet-up points in Horse Guards Road and Horse Guards Parade. Transport: Embankment tube or Charing Cross rail.