If you go down to the Cutty Sark tomorrow you're sure of a big surprise. Or two. The 138 year-old tea clipper, one of the most recognisable landmarks on the London Marathon course over its previous twenty-six runnings, was engulfed by a fire last May, though thankfully a good part of the ship was already elsewhere undergoing renovation. The repairs required to her are obviously even more extensive in the aftermath and currently the sections that remain on site are shrouded in the billowing tent coverings you see in the picture above. Consequently, this popular viewing point by Greenwich Pier for the capital's big foot race has been lost for the foreseeable future as there is little room for pedestrians now to the point where race organisers are actively discouraging spectators from gathering there. The excellent Supporter's Guide at Runner's World suggests instead walking down towards the preceding five mile point. It also has plenty of tips for those charged with supporting a race entrant, including:
During the 24 hours before the marathon, some runners are excited, all are nervous, and some are downright terrified. Do whatever you can to keep them calm. On the eve of the race, settle down with a DVD - preferably not a horror movie - and make sure your runner spends the evening with their feet up...
Another traditional rite of London Marathon watching is strolling to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel mere yards away in order to cross to the north side of the Thames where you can then lie in wait for your chosen competitors around the three-quarter distance mark, safe in the knowledge that they have to race thirteen miles along the course to catch you. That shortcut under the river will still be available this year, but you will not be allowed to retrace your steps to Greenwich until noon at the very least. Instead alternative, as yet unspecified, travel arrangements will be available at the adjacent Island Gardens DLR station. Securing a vantage point on Tower Bridge would also allow you to see the runners twice as they cross it just before halfway and again with just under five miles to go.
If you fancy joining the ranks of the race stewards on Sunday then officials in charge of the Isle of Dogs and Docklands section of the course, often one of the less crowded stretches, want to hear from you. Pat Ward, general secretary of the Docklands Settlements charity that usually provides the race marshals along there says:
Some of our usual marshals have had to pull out for personal reasons so we really need new people to volunteer to help. If anyone has decent local knowledge and a few hours to spare it would be great it they could help out.
Prospective marshals will also need to have a quiet night on Saturday. Volunteers meet at 7.45am at Westferry Circus and will be carrying out their assigned duties until 3pm. Refreshments will be provided. If you are interested, contact the charity via the details available here.
Picture via JL2003's Flickr stream.