Unusual Things To Look Out For On The London Marathon Route

By Londonist Last edited 31 months ago
Unusual Things To Look Out For On The London Marathon Route

The finish line of the 2013 London Marathon. Photo: D Cool

London Marathon runners famously pass landmarks such as the Cutty Sark and cross Tower Bridge on their way round the course. But there's more to be spotted (provided energy levels are sufficient), so if you're taking part this year keep an eye out for these lesser-known sights of interest. We're not guaranteeing you'll see everything — factors including density of crowds and leafiness of trees on the day must be taken into account.

See the full course map here. Yellow markers denote miles, orange denote kilometres.

The first eight miles, as shown on the course map

3-4 MILES: OK, this one's not that lesser-known but look right to the river to catch a glimpse of the Thames Barrier. Swot up here before the big day.

6 MILES: Try to catch a glimpse of Greenwich Power Station to your right (look out for four chimneys in a Battersea-esque formation) — there are plans to recommission it to provide energy for TfL. When you run past the Royal Naval College, bear in mind it was once home to a mini nuclear reactor called JASON, as well as the first tenpin bowling alley in Britain. You won't be able to see either of these things from the route, but it's something to think about.

Miles 8-22, as shown on the route map

11 MILES: Shortly after the 11 mile marker, just before you pass Rotherhithe station, look left and you'll spot the chimney of the Brunel Museum.

12-13 MILES: As you cross Tower Bridge — almost halfway! — look up for a second to see the newly-installed glass walkways. If anyone up there is wearing a skirt/kilt, you might get more than you bargained for.

13 MILES: Peer right at a point close to the 35km marker into the King Edward VII Memorial Park to see the one of two Rotherhithe Tunnel shafts (also known as the Wapping cupola). Although unless the trees are still particularly bare on Marathon day, this one's unlikely.

16 MILES: As you pass Vanguard storage unit on your right, look out for the particularly comical security warning sign:

Look out for the Vanguard security sign. Photo: Matt

17 MILES:  You're in the vicinity of Mudchute City Farm here, and although you won't see it from the route, you might hear anything from horses to chickens to geese to llamas cheering you on.

19 MILES: At 19 miles, you'll be able to see Canary Wharf Crossrail station, expected to open in 2018 — although the shopping centre opens in May. Here's an artist's impression of what the completed station will look like.

Shortly after crossing the 19 mile marker, you'll find yourself briefly on an island. This is Wood Wharf, currently derelict, but work is due to begin soon on building several new skyscrapers — remember what it looks like now as it'll soon change. Shortly after this, hold your nose for the fishy pong from Billingsgate Market.

You'll also skirt round the Blackwall Roundabout, where Pierre Vivant's Traffic Light tree is now situated.

21 MILES: As you pass Limehouse DLR station, keep your eyes out for the Grade II listed Limehouse Accumluator Tower, a 3om tall brick tower, once a raised weight hydraulic accumulator used to power the cranes at the nearby Limehouse Basin between 1869 and the 1920s.

The final slog, mile 23 to the finish, from the course map

23 MILES: Just before you hit mile 23, look left down the side of St Magnus the Martyr Church, shortly before you pass under London Bridge. The road running under the church clock is the route the original London Bridge took.

101 Lower Thames Street is the site of the old Billingsgate Roman Baths — although the building is quite plain from the outside, the basement houses extensive Roman remains, the subject of a recent archaeological project.

24 MILES: As you pass under Blackfriars Road Bridge, take a look at the birds sculpted onto each side. The east side has sea birds, while the west is decorated with freshwater birds, marking the fact that this is the point where the Thames is 50% saline. Near here is also the point where the Old Fleet River once flowed into the Thames,; water can still be seen pouring out of the outlet after heavy rainfall.

The birds on the east side of Blackfriars Bridge. Photo: jennitpk

As you pass Temple station, look back and you'll see a statue of Brunel (although the poor chap was mostly obscured by trees the last time we popped by). Follow his eye gaze and you'll catch a view of Hungerford Bridge (Charing Cross Railway Bridge): Brunel designed the original, although it's since been replaced.

25 MILES: Big Ben. The Elizabeth Tower. The Clock Tower. Whatever you want to call it: take your pick.

26 MILES: So close! As you speed to victory past Buckingham Palace and down The Mall, take a moment to consider Green Park, to your left. Specifically, consider the reason it's called Green Park — there are no flowerbeds within the park. Rumour has it that the wife of King Charles II caught him picking flowers for his mistress in the park, and demanded that all the flowerbeds be removed. On an even more unhappy note, the park also was used for plague pits. But hey, while you were thinking about that, you've probably crossed the finish line, so it's not all bad news.

Last Updated 17 April 2015