The London Marathon is one of the most famous events in the international sporting calendar. The Marathon features a mix of fierce competition between elite racers, personal challenges set by amateur competitors, and keen charity supporters.

Set amid the amazing sights of London and with thousands of people cheering the participants on, the London Marathon makes for a great day out.

History of the Marathon

The London Marathon was founded by Olympic Medal winners John Disley and Chris Brasher.

News about the popularity of the New York Marathon, which was established in 1970, had reached England and intrigued the pair. After some training they entered the 1979 New York Marathon and were thrilled by the fans, sights, and friendliness between runners. The event inspired them so much that they started to wonder if London, another city of great sights, could host its own marathon.

After much planning and meetings, a route for the London Marathon was signed off by police, and the event was given charitable status. Brasher and Disley had great ambitions for the marathon, hoping to unite people, build strong competition, boost tourism and more, as well as having fun. With their first sponsors Gillette on board to help put on the Marathon, the scene was set for a historic London event.

The first London Marathon took place on 29 March 1981, with just under 8,000 participants and many more spectators. The men’s race was an exciting draw between American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, and the women’s race was won by British Joyce Smith. The event proved so popular with the public that more than 90,000 applications came in for the 1982 race.

The London Marathon is now sponsored by Virgin Money. Over 900,000 runners have completed the London Marathon to date, with 34,000 people taking part in 2013 alone. Now regarded as one of the most important sporting events to take place, the London Marathon is known around the world.

The Virgin Money London Marathon is not only a significant sporting event, but an important event for charities, too. It is estimated that London Marathon runners have, to date, raised more than £500 million for charity.

Record Breakers

The fastest time ever run by a female marathon competitor was at the 2003 London Marathon. It was there that British sporting legend Paula Radcliffe finished with an incredible time of 2:15:25.
The course record for the men’s race at the London Marathon was in 2011, when Emmanuel Kipchirchir Mutai finished at an amazing 2:04:40.

Runners of the London Marathon also set a number of Guinness World Records each year, with amazing costumes and physical exploits now being race traditions. For instance, in 2013 runner Susie Hewer set the world record for the ‘longest scarf knitted whilst running a marathon’ (2.05m). The record for male ‘Film character costume’ was broken by David Stone, who ran in just 02:42:15 while dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow.

The 2013 Virgin Money London Marathon men’s winner was Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, while the woman’s race was won by Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo. The 2013 wheelchair race was won by Australian Kurt Fearnley for the men, and USA’s Tatyana McFadden for the women.

2014 London Marathon

Spaces to sign up for the 2014 London Marathon online ballot were filled in a record time, but many charities have still guaranteed places available. Search the charity listings on the Virgin Money London Marathon website to see if a charity you support has spaces.

Mo Farah, hero of the 2012 London Olympics, has revealed that he will be taking part in the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon.

If you go to see the London Marathon you can watch Mo Farah and thousands of other runners as you enjoy some of London’s landmark architecture.

The race starts in pretty Greenwich Park, which will be a buzzing if busy place to watch the runners set off. There are plenty of amazing places on the Virgin Money London Marathon route for people to cheer on the runners. We particularly recommend finding a spot to watch the race from the halfway mark at Mile 13, near the Tower of London. Since the course doubles back here, this is a great place to support both loved ones and the elite athletes, as you see the runners twice.

Our Park Inn Hotel & Conference Centre, London Heathrow is perfectly situated for people attending the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon. Guests enjoy easy access to London and airport connections, and can catch up on the Marathon highlights on the flat-screen TV’s in our comfortable rooms.

Have you ever tried to run a Marathon?