Considering it's 26.2 miles long and will have 35,000 people pounding along it, it's going to be hard not to fall across the marathon tomorrow. But the secret to having an enjoyable marathon spectator experience is to avoid the ultra-crowded bits, and work out how you're going to see your mate who's running (it's trickier than it looks - spotting a man in a vest amongst 35,000 people can be challenging). You need A Plan.
First off, the organisers have provided a lovely spectator guide, handily with each of the pubs indicated. Download it here (warning - 3.6MB PDF).
We have our own tips, though too.
WHAT TO DO NOW:
Register online for the free track-by-text service being trailled this year by adidas. You'll get a text when your runner reaches certain markers.
PLACES TO AVOID:
The Finish. It's chaos and it can take a ridiculous length of time to push through and cross a very short distance. Avoid the meeting point area, seriously. Ugh. One big stress you just don't need.
Tower Bridge. It gets rammed. People queue to spectate from 7am to get anywhere near this. Really.
Mile Markers. Avoid being exactly at a mile marker, as the crowd inevitably bunches up there - having told their running friends they'll be "at Mile 17".
PLACES TO GO:
The Start - with runners spread across 3 different startlines in Greenwich and Blackheath, it's a good place to accompany your runner and calm their nerves until they're ready to join their pen. If you can get up in time.
Isle Of Dogs - the loop south of canary wharf tends to be the least crowded of the course.
Kilometre Markers - as fewer people use these than the mile markers. Still good to be slightly away from the marker as it'll be less crowded.
WHAT TO DO AFTERWARDS:
This is crucial! Runners with charities normally have somewhere reserved to go, and this is eminently wise because every pub, bar and restaurant within a mile of the finish is going to be choc-ful any time after 12.30pm. And with a limping marathon runner it can be heart-breaking to fail to find them somewhere warm and dry to sit down (and remember they really can't walk far - they will be hobbling in serious pain). If you haven't reserved anywhere, the best strategy is to choose a pub today, and then - as you're not going to the finishline - to head to the pub by 12 and keep a couple of seats for you and your runner and wait for them.
In any case, Londonist wishes huge luck and feels admiration for every marathon runner. Many of you are running for a cause or a loved one, and it's an intensely emotional experience throughout the race. It's a huge achievement and we're so very proud of you. This Londonista wil be there, aiming to sneak in at 3 hrs 59 mins and 59 seconds and will probably get a bit tear-y myself. See you, sobbing, in a corner of a pub.
Image from klbw's Flickrstream under a creative commons license