Electricity sparks in the air with the gentle excited laughter and the soft pounding of trainers of thousands of runners heading to the start. Spectators are trying to find a perfect vantage point, ensuring they make the most of the sun shining. Final preparations before the race begin. This is the London Marathon.
“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try'” (Yoda, Star Wars)
The London Marathon was first established as an annual race since 1981. The question was to whether London would be able to host such a spirited and community festival. Looking back with the success of the race, it is fantastic to think that this was even considered. Before this time there was the London Polytechnic Marathon, but the London Marathon overtook this regarding its popularity.
What makes the London Marathon so magical is the runners. There are some elite races, with women and para-athletes competing as part of their championships and World Cup tournaments. The mass race is for everyone, and there are incredible stories for why people run that makes London so unique.
None more so than the first Spirit of London award, which started last year. On the home stretch one runner was delirious from the heat and exhaustion of the race and another runner, a stranger, came to his aid and helped him towards the finish line. This sportsmanship was seen across the world and does show the true London spirit.
Over 700,000 runners take part in the Marathon and places are hard to come by. The vast majority of runners are taking part to raise money for numerous causes and charities. Whether these are national or international charities or community-based ones, there are incredible people tearing up the road for what they believe in. The British public is ridiculously charitable and loves an underdog, getting behind every single runner. Spectators will hand out jelly beans for sugar rush and water, calling out all the names they see on runners bids in encouragement. It’s a party atmosphere, music blaring and singing amongst the cheers and applause.
Due to the popularity of the course, there are three different starting points, in and around Greenwich Park, before heading down into Greenwich, over Tower Bridge, towards Canary Wharf and round the Isle of Dogs and back into the City before the final straight on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
26.2 miles of sweat, blood and tears. Months of training, weeks of prep. A lifetime’s worth of achievement.