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Runner passes through Canary Wharf on marathon day

The Course

Explore the Virgin Money London Marathon course

The world-famous London Marathon route has remained largely unchanged since the inaugural race in 1981 and encompasses many of the capital’s most mesmerising landmarks, old and new.

You can enjoy a fly-through video, as well as an interactive map of the course, below, and if you’d like to learn about the history of the Virgin London Marathon, we have also provided a rundown of the key milestones along the route…

Download a Virgin Money London Marathon course map

Download the course map

Find out more about the famous and historic 26.2-mile journey from Blackheath to The Mall, including the locations of the mile markers and an elevation profile.

The Start

Your 26.2-mile challenge begins at one of the three Start Lines – Blue, Green or Red – near Blackheath in Greenwich.

Greenwich became the centre of world time in 1884, when the Meridian Line in Greenwich Park was chosen as the world clock’s neutral point from which all time zones are measured from.

More than a century later, the world watches ever year as thousands of runners begin their race against the clock from the centre of the Earth.

Mile 6: Cutty Sark

Now synonymous with the London Marathon, Cutty Sark had a previous life as a clipper ship transporting alcohol and tea between the UK and China.

The ship was moved to a dry dock in Greenwich in 1954 and despite a devastating fire in May 2007, it was restored to its former glory. The atmosphere around Cutty Sark is electric on Marathon Day, as it is one of the most popular sections of the course for spectators.

Mile 12: The Shard

Standing at 309.6 metres (1,016 feet) high, the Shard is the tallest building in the UK, the fifth-tallest building in Europe and the newest landmark on the London Marathon route.

Officially opened in February 2013, runners in the Virgin Money London Marathon have been able to see the Shard from Tower Bridge since the glass-clad pyramidal tower started appearing on the skyline in 2010.

Mile 12: Tower Bridge

Perhaps the most famous landmark on the route, Tower Bridge provides an unbeatable backdrop, showcasing the capital in all its splendour.

Built between 1886 and 1894, the bridge offers millions of viewers from around the world an amazing view of you and thousands of other runners crossing the River Thames from south to north just before the halfway point in the marathon.

View the course

Runners make their way of the Start of the Virgin Money London Marathon

26.2 miles in 90 seconds

Mile 18: Canary Wharf

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 surpassed by the Shard. The area was given its name when fruit grown in the Canary Islands started arriving into the docks during the 1930s.

Mile 25: London Eye

As you head west along Victoria Embankment 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 (443ft).

Originally intended as a temporary attraction with a five-year lease, the London Eye has become the capital’s premier viewing platform, with more than 3.75 million visitors annually.

Mile 25: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

You will be welcomed into the final mile of the London Marathon by the spectacular sight of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

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. Many people think the bell was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who oversaw its installation.

Mile 26: Buckingham Palace

When you negotiate the penultimate bend of the London Marathon, you will come face-to-face with Buckingham Palace and know that you have just 385 yards left until 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.

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