Please see below for a digital spectator guide, details of the course, best viewing points and more for the Virgin Money London Marathon.
Digital spectator guide for mobile devices
Brand new for 2016, we created a digital spectator guide for mobile devices to help you to make the most of this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, whether you’re supporting the runners on the streets of London or from your sofa at home. Download the 2016 digital spectator guide below. We recommend that you download the guide using Wi-Fi.
Track your runner
You will be able to keep track of your favourite runners, whether they are your friends, family or elite athletes, on our live tracking page on Race Day. You can search by surname or running number and follow your runner(s) as they make their way around the course (updates will appear as they cross the timing points, which are at 5km intervals). The page will also show an estimate of the runner's location based on pace.
The downloadable PDFs below feature maps of the entire route of the Virgin Money London Marathon (and a detailed map of the finish area, along with info on where you should meet your loved ones after the race) to help you plan where to go on Race Day.
The maps also include an elite runners’ pace guide to help you to follow the top-flight action, plus a specially formulated mass-field pace guide so you will know when to keep an eye out for your loved ones as they come gasping and sweating along the road.
This year's Virgin Money London Marathon features one of the strongest elite fields assembled in marathon history. We're finalising the elite start lists so check back here soon for factfiles on the athletes taking part in the men's, women's and wheelchair races. The World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup is once again part of this year's event.
Download the app
The official Virgin Money London Marathon app for iPhone will be available to download ahead of the 2017 event.
You will be able to use the app to track your runner(s) on Race Day – the app will update automatically when your runner crosses the Start Line and at every subsequent timing point at 5km intervals. The app will also predict where your runner will be on the London Marathon course based on their pace.
The app will also be available on android and other devices.
With all roads closed (visit our road closures page for more details), the only way to get around is by public transport. London Underground, London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) all lay on extra services on Race Day, and this is by far the best way to get around.
Before setting off, you need to prepare – spectating isn’t quite as tough as marathon training but it still needs some thought:
Travel light – you will be standing for hours on end, so keep your belongings to a minimum and try and leave as many valuables as you can at home.
Comfortable clothes (especially shoes) are a must. You should be prepared for a typical April day in London – sun, showers and wind.
It’s busy! If you are a regular commuter, think rush hour. If not, think what it’s like when you attend a concert or festival. You will often have to queue and some stations may be forced to shut temporarily while staff clear the crowds.
Expect to do lots of walking, including stairs and escalators – you should think carefully before bringing young children; pushchairs can also be troublesome.
Places to avoid
If you want to follow your loved ones and try to get a glimpse of them as they pass, we suggest that you avoid very crowded areas, where it can be difficult to find a viewing spot, hard to move around and tough to get in and out.
Busy areas include Greenwich town centre and the Cutty Sark. While the ship is undoubtedly a beautiful backdrop for the race, the crowds that are attracted here can make spectating uncomfortable and transport in and around Greenwich becomes particularly busy. We strongly advise spectators to avoid this area.
Tower Bridge is always extremely busy, as is anywhere from mile 24 to the finish in The Mall. Obviously many of you will eventually end up in this area later on in the day as you head to the runner meet and greet area in Horse Guards Road.
Spectator routes from central London stations
The mass race starts at 10:00 from Blackheath and Greenwich Park. We don’t suggest accompanying your runner to the start. The assembly areas are for runners only, so you will have to say goodbye well before race time anyway. There are a couple of options. All runners are entitled to free travel to the start on Southeastern trains from Charing Cross, Waterloo East, Cannon Street and Victoria. If you were to say goodbye at any one of these stations, then it’s an easy transfer onto the London Underground to make your way onto the marathon route, get your spot and probably have time for some breakfast too!
We encourage runners to get to the starts early – the first trains leave central London at 06:50 – so if you travel into London together you will have plenty of time. You won’t be bored – the elite wheelchair race starts at 08:55, followed by the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulatory) at 09:00 and the elite women at 09:15. The elite men will start at 10:00, followed by the masses.
From Charing Cross you can take the Northern line southbound to Waterloo. Transferring onto the Jubilee line eastbound gives a number of options. From London Bridge station you can walk along Tooley Street to Tower Bridge Road and see the runners just before they cross Tower Bridge at mile 12. Or, walk over London Bridge into the City of London – the race passes underneath London Bridge.
If you are early enough (between 08:40 and 09:30) you will see the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon age-group races, which start just east of London Bridge. Later on, the main race passes by at mile 23.
If you keep walking you will reach Bank station, a major underground interchange. It also connects with the DLR, so you can head east out towards Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs to see the race between miles 14 to 21. Canada Water station on the Jubilee line is a short walk to mile nine at Surrey Quays. If you get back on the Jubilee line eastbound you can get to Canary Wharf (mile 19).
Another option from Charing Cross is to travel south one stop to Embankment and connect with the District & Circle lines eastbound. Get off at Tower Hill and you can watch the runners from a number of locations in this area BUT it will be very, very busy.
The best option is to walk from Tower Hill station to Tower Gateway on the DLR and head east out towards the Isle of Dogs.
Cannon Street and Victoria are also on the District and Circle lines – see suggested connections above.
If you are coming to Waterloo East station then you should head for Waterloo station on foot and follow the travel suggestions above.
London Underground update
For travel updates and to plan your journey using the London Underground, go to www.tfl.gov.uk.
The London Overground has several stations on, or very close to, the marathon route – Surrey Quays, Canada Water (connect with the Jubilee line on the London Underground), Rotherhithe, Wapping and Shadwell (connect with the DLR). Trains run every 10 minutes throughout the day.
London Overground’s line from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction links south east and south west London. With fast frequent services, this line offers connections to:
- Canada Water
- Clapham High Street
- Clapham Junction
- Highbury & Islington
- Shoreditch High Street
Please visit www.tfl.gov.uk for weekly updates before the event and real-time travel information on Race Day.
MBNA Thames Clippers
MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus services run from key central London piers every 20 minutes. Hop on and off with River Roamer tickets, stopping at 15 piers across the city so you can get closer to the race. You can book your tickets in advance at www.thamesclippers.com
Mile 15 & Mile 18
As in 2015, there is a slight adjustment to the route between miles 18 and 19 due to building work at Canary Wharf. The very popular viewing spot at Heron Quays roundabout (close to the site of the former City Pride pub) at miles 15 and 18 will NOT be available this year. Access will be restricted and spectators should make alternative arrangements.
While the route through for runners is protected, the ongoing works will be fenced and inaccessible and it will not be possible to see runners at this location. All spectators should follow the directions of our event marshals who will advise and direct people to alternative viewing spots.
Canary Wharf & The Isle of Dogs (DLR)
Miles 14 to 21 on the London Marathon route are well served by a number of DLR stations. The DLR connects with London Underground at Canary Wharf (Jubilee line), Bank (District & Circle lines – connect at Monument station) and Tower Gateway (walk to Tower Hill – District & Circle lines.) So, when you want to head back towards the finish you can use these interchanges.
Meeting up after the race
You will be reunited with your runner at the runner meet and greet area in Horse Guards Road and Horse Guards Parade. You will NOT be allowed into the secure area. Many of you will use the crossing points and pedestrian bridge in order to make your way to and from this area, we therefore would ask that you take the time to look over the map above and plan your route to and from the finish area carefully.
The closest stations to the finish area are indicated on the map (see PDF link above). For those arriving from St James’s Park station, please proceed along Queen Anne Gate where the crossing point will take you directly into the park. For people arriving from Victoria station, please use the footbridge on Spur Road. All the crossing points shown will be clearly signed and marshalled but bear in mind that these will be busy and you will often need to wait before you can cross.
Charing Cross and Embankment stations will involve a longer walk (approximately 20 minutes). However, these stations will be less crowded and you will not have to use the crossing points.
Runner meet and greet area
It can be very busy, so please take note of the following advice. There will be meeting points in Horse Guards Road and Horse Guards Parade with areas marked by letters of the alphabet – meet at your family initial or at another pre-arranged letter.
Please meet your runner at one of these meeting points. DO NOT congregate around the exit from the secure area at the top of Horse Guards Road. This causes massive congestion for exiting runners as well as other health and safety issues for the large numbers of people in this area. Both the Police and our security personnel are under strict instructions not to allow people to congregate here and to move them along.
Heavy mobile phone traffic on all networks means you may find it difficult to get a signal in and around the finish area. Therefore, do not rely on mobile phones but plan where to meet in advance.
Runners are more likely to run slower than their predicted time. After crossing the Finish Line it will take a minimum of 15 minutes and closer to 30-40 minutes to reach the runner meet and greet area. Remember to build these factors into your arrangements when planning to meet your runner.
Make sure you have the details of your runner’s race number. It is the easiest way for our information point to identify them on our database.
There will be a PA system in operation throughout the day at the finish; this is only for the official race commentary and emergency announcements, NOT for friends and family seeking lost runners.
TV & radio coverage
The BBC’s coverage of the Virgin Money London Marathon is multi-platform, with the audience able to follow the action on the BBC Sport website, the Red Button service and social media – as well as on traditional mainstream network television and radio.
The BBC's television coverage schedule for the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon will appear here in due course.
The core television coverage has dedicated expert presenters, reporters and commentary teams guiding viewers through the event on BBC One – including highlights of the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon and Mini London Wheelchair Marathon.
The Red Button TV service gives separate expert commentary on a dedicated combined elite race feed, for those who want only elite race coverage, and then offers Finish Line coverage of all runners as they complete the race – accompanied by a graphics ticker containing messages sent in by friends and loved ones.
Network television will also show highlights of the whole day on BBC Two.
BBC Radio 5 live will also give comprehensive coverage of the event as usual – fronted by John Inverdale with lead commentators Mike Costello and Ed Harry, and reporters including Colin Paterson, Jennie Gow and Sonja McLaughlan.
BBC Radio London will feature live coverage and reports through the afternoon on BBC Radio London 94.9, BBC Radio London digital radio and BBC Radio London online.