16 Fun Facts About The London Marathon

Shutterstock / Mr Pics © London Marathon pic: Shutterstock

The London Marathon is an iconic annual event held in the heart of the UK’s capital and has become one of the most renowned marathons worldwide. We find out what makes it so special…

With its scenic route taking athletes through the streets of London, past historic landmarks, it offers a fantastic experience for both participants and spectators. Here are some London Marathon facts you might not know.

16 London Marathon Fun Facts

1. Starting Out

The London Marathon was first held on 29th March 1981, with 7741 entrants and 6255 finishers. It was founded by former Olympic champion Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley.

2. Biggest Fundraising Event

The event has raised over £1 billion for charity since 1981. The London Marathon is recognised as the largest annual fundraising event globally. Its participants raise millions of pounds for various charities every year, making a significant impact on communities and organisations worldwide.

London Marathon Crowd pic: Shutterstock

London Marathon crowd Pic: Shutterstock

3. Elite Runners

The London Marathon attracts some of the world’s best long-distance runners, competing for the title. It is one of the six World Marathon Majors, along with races in Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin, and Tokyo.

4. Most Guinness World Records Set

The London Marathon holds the record for the most Guinness World Records set in a single marathon. Every year, participants attempt to break or set new records, adding an element of fun and challenge to the event.

At the 2023 London Marathon, 45 Guinness World Records were broken, read about them here.

5. Dressed For The Occasion

Jeremie Maillard set the Guinness World Record for fastest marathon dressed as a mythical creature (male), with a time of 3:26:38.

London Marathon Participants In Costumes pic: Shutterstock

London Marathon participants in costumes Pic: Shutterstock

6. Footwear

Becky Lafford set the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon wearing wellington boots (female), with a time of 3:59:57.

7. Oldest Participant

The London Marathon is inclusive of all ages, and each year, there are participants of various age groups. In 2019, Kenneth Jones set the record for the oldest male to complete the London Marathon at the age of 87.

While you may not be able to take part in a marathon yourself, it’s never too late to exercise – there are many ways to bring more movement into your daily routine!

8. Setting Records

In 2022, the longest official finishing time recorded was 11:20:56, with a group of five runners taking more than 10 hours to complete the marathon course.

9. Most Runners Linked Together

The London Marathon is not just about individual achievements but also about teamwork. In 2016, a group of 34 runners set a world record for the most runners linked together to complete a marathon. They ran the entire course while tied together!

10. Finishing Line

In 1982 the finish line was relocated from Constitution Hill to Westminster Bridge, due to building works. It was moved again in 1994 to the Mall, where it has remained ever since.

London Marathon Finish Line pic: Shutterstock

London Marathon finish line Pic: Shutterstock

11. Virtual Edition

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the London Marathon introduced a virtual edition, allowing participants to run the marathon remotely, anywhere in the world. This virtual format enabled runners to still take part and raise funds for charity while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

12. Unofficial Beer Stations

Alongside official water and energy drink stations, spectators often set up unofficial “beer stations” along the route, offering runners a refreshing pint. While it might not be the most conventional form of hydration, it adds to the festive spirit of the event, and certainly gives participants the boost they need to get to the finish line.

13. The “Ever-Present” Club

There is a special club called the “Ever-Present Club” consisting of runners who have completed every single London Marathon since its launch in 1981. These dedicated individuals are recognised for their commitment to the event year after year.

14. Royal Participation

The London Marathon has seen participation from members of the British royal family. In 2017, Prince Harry attended the event and presented medals to the winners. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge also support various charities associated with the marathon.

15. Wheelchair Racing

In addition to the traditional marathon distance, the London Marathon also hosts wheelchair races, showcasing the inclusivity of the event and providing opportunities for athletes with disabilities to compete at the highest level.

Wheelchair Race

London Marathon wheelchair race Pic: Shutterstock

16. The Heat Is On

In 2018, the London Marathon saw its highest recorded temperature of 24.1°C in St James’s Park. Despite the scorching conditions, over 40,000 runners took part, persevering through the heat to finish the challenging 26.2-mile course.

Congratulations to all the runners taking part in the event, and to everyone who supported them every step of the way!

Feeling inspired? Find out more about how you can take part in next year’s London Marathon.

Running not for you? Walking has great health benefits too, read more here.

Georgia Grieve