Landmarks of the London Marathon
Greenwich Park and neighbouring Blackheath have provided the starting point for more than one million runners since the first London Marathon in 1981. Greenwich became the centre of world time in 1884 when the meridian line in Greenwich Park was chosen as the neutral point of the world clock. More than a century later, the world watches every year as thousands of runners begin their 26.2-mile challenge from east to west. Here are the world-famous landmarks they encounter along the route...
Formerly one of the busiest docks in the world, Canary Wharf became the UK’s new financial hub in 1991.
The 97–acre commercial estate is home to a glittering array of skyscrapers including One Canada Square, which was the tallest building in the UK for two decades before being overtaken by the Shard. The area was given its name when fruit grown in the Canary Islands started arriving at the docks during the 1930s.
Now synonymous with the London Marathon, Cutty Sark had a previous life as a clipper ship transporting precious cargo across the world.
Built on the River Clyde in Glasgow in 1869, it was primarily used to carry alcohol and tea between the UK and China.
The ship was moved to a dry dock in Greenwich in 1954. Despite a devastating fire in May 2007, it was restored to its former glory and remains one of the most popular sections of the London Marathon course for spectators.
Perhaps the most famous landmark on the route, Tower Bridge provides an unbeatable backdrop, showcasing the British capital in all its splendour.
Built between 1886 and 1894, the bridge offers millions of viewers from around the world the amazing sight of thousands of runners crossing the River Thames from south to north just before the halfway point in the race.
Standing at 309.6 metres (1,016 ft), the Shard is the tallest building in the UK, the fifth tallest building in Europe and the newest landmark on the London Marathon route.
Runners taking part in the race have been able to see the Shard from Tower Bridge since the glass-clad tower started to appear on the skyline in 2010, but it wasn’t officially opened until February 2013.
Tower of London
Runners encounter the Tower of London twice on the route – once just before mile 13 and again 10 miles later.
Founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the tower was originally a symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by William the Conqueror and the country’s new ruling elite.
The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was beseiged several times and has been a prison and a palace. It is now the home of the Crown Jewels of England.
As the race heads west along Victoria Embarkment to Westminster, the London Eye dominates the skyline.
When it was officially opened by then Prime Minister Tony Blair on 31 December 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world – standing at 135 metres (443 ft).
Originally intended as a temporary attraction with a five–year lease, the London Eye has become London’s premier viewing platform with more than 3.75 million visitors annually. The wheel itself is 120 metres in diameter.
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament
The spectacular sight of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament welcomes runners to the final mile of the marathon.
The clock tower was completed in 1859 and was officially renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. However, it is more commonly known by its nickname Big Ben, which originally referred to the clock’s great bell.
After negotiating the penultimate bend of the London Marathon course, runners come face-to-face with Buckingham Palace and the knowledge that they have just 385 yards to go to reach the Finish Line on The Mall.
The first edition of the race reached its climax just metres away on Constitution Hill but from 1982 until 1993 the race ended on Westminster Bridge.
However, in 1994 repair work to the bridge meant the Finish Line was moved to The Mall, where it has been ever since.