The London Marathon 2023: A Complete Guide To Watching And Taking Part

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 8 months ago
The London Marathon 2023: A Complete Guide To Watching And Taking Part
A woman in pink running top and hat running the London Marathon, with other runners also taking part behind her.
Photo: Julian Mason via creative commons

When is the London Marathon 2023?

Sunday 23 April is the date of this year's London Marathon — St George's Day. After being an elite-only event in 2020, and held in October in 2021 and 2022, it's back to its usual April slot for 2023.

What time does the London Marathon start?

2023 timings are yet to be confirmed, but the mass participation race normally sets off from 9.30am, with Elite and Wheelchair races setting off at staggered times from 8.30am.

What's the London Marathon route?

Wheelchair racer Jade Jones taking part in the 2014 London Marathon on  a road on part of the course in the Isle of Dogs, with a second wheelchair racer close behind her
Wheelchair athletes including Jade Jones are taking part in the London Marathon. Photo: Julian Mason

Greenwich and Blackheath is the starting point, with runners assigned one of three start lines. They all merge by the three-mile marker, following a route from Woolwich back towards Greenwich town centre (hello, Cutty Sark), through Rotherhithe and Bermondsey, and across Tower Bridge, at which point you're almost halfway there.

From here it's back east towards Limehouse, a big circuit around Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, before doubling back through Shadwell to Tower Gateway. From here, the route stays close to the Thames all the way down to Westminster Bridge, where it turns onto Great George Street, continues onto Birdcage Walk, and sweeps round in front of Buckingham Palace for the iconic finish line on The Mall.

You can see a mile-by-mile video of the route on the London Marathon website.

Landmarks to look out for on the London Marathon route

Greenwich's Cutty Sark, with 'Virgin Money' branded hoardings and railings set up outside to mark out the London Marathon route. Two marshalls in flourescent jackets can be seen in the distance but other than that , there are no runners or spectators
It won't be this quiet on Marathon day.... Photo: Katie Chan via creative commons

Running the route and need something to keep you going? Or watching on TV and need to orientate yourself? The London Marathon route passes several iconic landmarks, including:

  • Mile 6: Cutty Sark
  • Mile 12: Tower Bridge
  • Mile 18: Canary Wharf skyscraper
  • Mile 22: Tower of London
  • Mile 25: London Eye (on opposite Embankment)
  • Mile 25: Big Ben
  • Mile 26: Buckingham Palace

Where's the best place to watch the London Marathon 2023?

Runner rounding a corner at Canary Wharf
Image: iStock/IR_Stone

Depends what you're after. Some points along the route — Greenwich around the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, and of course, near the finish line around St James's and Westminster — get VERY busy, with people cheering on friends and strangers. If you want to soak up the atmosphere and are willing to put up with crowds, and standing for several hours, fill your boots.

Otherwise, head for somewhere where fewer crowds gather. From our experience, miles 9-12 around Rotherhithe and Bermondsey tend to be quieter, as d0 miles 14-21, east of Limehouse and around Canary Wharf.

There of course, there's the third option...

How to watch the London Marathon on TV

The London Marathon will be shown live on the BBC as usual. Check the schedule closer to the time for details, though the commentary normally begins around 8am.

Road closures for the London Marathon

Legs running along the road
Image: iStock/PeteSherrard

The Marathon only takes place on one day, but it's such a big event that some road closures (and parking restrictions) usually start a day or two prior, and continue into the following Monday.

Obviously, any road on the route will be closed on the day, which means some bus services will be on diversion — check the TfL website for details. It's a rolling road closure situation, with the first parts of the course expected to start reopening by about 1pm, once the final runners have cleared the area, though the latter parts of the course aren't expected to reopen until late Sunday evening. If you live along the route, you're advised to move your car by the Saturday night, or risk being towed.

Birdcage Walk, close to the finish line, will close on Friday, and not reopen Thursday 18 May — looks like they're starting to set up for the coronation straight after the Marathon, so are keeping it closed throughout.

Full information about road closures is available on the London Marathon website.

Train strikes over Marathon weekend

Two DLR trains facing one another
Image: Luke Agbaimoni

Back in October 2022, when the last London Marathon took place, people's travel plans were blighted by train strikes. At time of writing, there aren't any out-and-out train strikes planned for Marathon day, but members of the RMT Union who work in operations roles will be on an overtime ban — so trains should run, but there might be last-minute cancellations due to staffing issues.

Of course, things could change between now and then. More train strikes could be announced, or — hopefully — that overtime ban could be cancelled. We'll keep you updated.

How many people are taking part in the London Marathon this year?

Around six pairs of legs, photographed from the knees down, running on a grey road surface during a marathon
Photo: Miguel A Amutio via Unsplash

Organisers haven't confirmed a total for 2023 yet. In 2022, 40,643 took part in person, with another 8,518 taking part virtually.

Any celebrities running the London Marathon this year?

If we're talking famous athletes, then Sir Mo Farah and Commonwealth Games 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan are both taking part in the elite races — the latter hoping to emulate her mother's 1996 win.

In terms of famous-for-non-sporting-endeavours celebrities, we've not had confirmation of anyone taking part in2023 yet. Stephen Mangan, Mark Wright, Harry Judd and Chris Evans (the radio presenter, not the actor) were among the famous faces taking part in 2022. Watch this space...

Is there a virtual London Marathon this year?

Yes! The pandemic resulted in many events going virtual for those who couldn't be there in person — the London Marathon included. Organisers have decided to keep that side of things going, allowing anyone anywhere in the world to take part, and run a 26.2 mile route of their choosing on Marathon day — or another day, if religious or health reasons prevent them from completing it on the day. You can use the London Marathon app to log your run.

Are there places left for the 2023 London Marathon?

You'll struggle to find a place to run in person, though you might get lucky with a charity place. Otherwise, there's still time to sign up for the virtual London Marathon (see above), and run your own 26.2 mile route of your choosing on the same day as the London event. Plus 24 of the people who sign up to take part virtually will be chosen at random to win an in-person place.

Crowds of people running in a mass-participation marathon
Photo: Miguel A Amutio via Unsplash

How to enter the next London Marathon in 2024

Inspired by the top-notch running in this year's London Marathon, and fancy having a crack yourself? Ballots for places in the next marathon usually open soon after this year's marathon, so keep your eyes on the London Marathon website.

If you're not successful, certain charities have places available each year. These are highly coveted, and you'll likely need to commit to a minimum fundraising amount.

Last Updated 21 April 2023

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