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Interesting Facts about the London Marathon that you might not know

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Though the London Marathon, one of the World Marathon Majors, might have been inspired by the energy and camaraderie of the New York City Marathon back in the early 1980s, it’s quickly grown into a world-class event with a bevy of traditions – and interesting facts – of its own. Take a look at what makes this 26.2 mile race so uniquely London.


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It All Started in a Pub

UK is known for its pubs and pints, so it’s no surprise that the idea for a London Marathon first came about at the Dysart Arms, a gastro pub near Richmond – as members from a running club chatted about their experiences at the New York City Marathon. Former Olympic champion and journalist Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley were so impressed by the event, which they then attended in 1979, that they decided London had to have one of its own. They went on to cofound the London Marathon in 1981.


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1981 London Marathon Picture: © PA


Thanks for the Extra Mile

The marathon distance only became 26.2 miles during the 1908 London Olympics. Queen Alexandra requested that the distance was adjusted so that the royal family could watch the start of the race from Windsor Castle and the end of the race from a royal box in the Olympic Stadium. Prior to this – from 1896 to 1908 marathons of approximately 25 miles were held.


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Run for the Money

For those participating in the London Marathon, it’s not just about the training, the race-day adrenalin and the sheer joy that comes with completing all 26.2 miles – it’s about giving back. This race holds a Guinness World Record as the largest annual fundraising event in the world. The total raised for hundreds of charitable causes since the race began in 1981 is more than £716 million, or about $1 billion.


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Master Marathoner

Age is just a number – especially if you’re Fauja Singh, an Essex local who is believed to be the oldest person to ever complete the London Marathon. In 2004, at the age of 93, he completed the 26.2 miles in six hours and seven minutes.


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Fancy Clothes & World Records

The London Marathon might be one of the World Marathon Majors, but its participants still like to have their fun. Known for its “fancy dress”, the race has inspired people to dress up in costumes as unwieldy as the course itself. Firefighter Lloyd Scott is famous for wearing a 130-pound antique deep-sea diving suit during the 2002 London Marathon. He set a record for the slowest marathon time, completing the race in five days, eight hours, 29 minutes and 46 seconds – a record he then broke at the New York City Marathon.


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Pasta Party

Pasta Party before the Marathon is the perfect preparation for race day. It’s more than just a delicious, social gathering the night before a run. On the pre-race day of the London Marathon, 42,000 runners eat about 20,000 kg of pasta!

“Pasta Parties serve a purpose: to load the body with carbohydrates. That’s why a big bowl of pasta the evening before a race is recommended”, – says Andrzej Waszkewicz.



“Beer Wall”

Everyone knows how important a cheering section is, and in London, the locals in the East End are famous for handing out beer instead of water – which many runners are known to drink. The Embankment on the River Thames is full of the most dedicated fans – the crowds arrive early to see the elite runners and stick it out to cheer on the stragglers seven hours later.


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Photo: © Andrzej Waszkewicz / London, Thames View


Race-Day Music

While many runners have prepared playlists to keep them motivated and energised throughout the race, supplying your own soundtrack isn’t necessary. The route is full of music – including special-for-the-marathon bandstands along the route and pubs with live performers. Caribbean-style steel drum bands in the docklands are among the most well-known.


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Footballer’s High

Running the marathon seems daunting enough without any complications – but John Farnworth decided to make his run a little more interesting. In 2011, he finished the London Marathon while kicking a ball between his right and left foot – and without dropping it once. It took Farnworth 12 hours and 15 minutes to complete the course.


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Photo: © Getty Images


A Royal Finish

London Marathon have the most picturesque course its way around the capital city. Runners pass by the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and Nelson’s Column until they land at Buckingham Palace and then cross the finish line.


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Photo: © Getty Images


Andrzej Waszkewicz, London Marathon

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Andrzej Waszkewicz, https://swim.by, Wellness Expert



Andrzej Waszkewicz Swimming, https://swim.by, Swimming Manager



Andrzej Waszkewicz Triathlon, https://swim.by, Triathlon Manager



Andrzej Waszkewicz Sports Manager, https://swim.by, Sport Manager