The London Marathon 2024: A Complete Guide To Watching And Taking Part

Last Updated 05 April 2024

The London Marathon 2024: 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.
The London Marathon has been going for over 40 years. Photo: Julian Mason via creative commons

When is the London Marathon 2024?

Sunday 21 April is the date of this year's London Marathon.

What time does the London Marathon start?

2024 timings are yet to be confirmed, but the mass participation race normally sets off from around 9.30am, with Elite and Wheelchair races setting off at staggered times from 8.30am.

What's the London Marathon route?

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.

Landmarks to look out for on the London Marathon route

Tower Bridge is an iconic part of the London Marathon route. Photo: DanHuddleston 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 2024?

Runner rounding a corner at Canary Wharf during the London Marathon
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 do miles 14-21, east of Limehouse and around Canary Wharf.

There are five accessible viewing areas along the route for spectators with disabilities, at Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf, Limehouse, Tower Hill and Victoria Embankment — check the London Marathon website for exact locations.

Then of course, there's the easiest option...

How to watch the London Marathon on TV

The London Marathon will be shown live on the BBC as usual. The commentary begins at 8.30am on the day on BBC One, hopping over to BBC Two from 2.15pm.

Road closures for the London Marathon

Wheelchair racer Jade Jones taking part in the London Marathon on  a road on part of the course in the Isle of Dogs, with a second wheelchair racer close behind her
Photo: Julian Mason via creative commons

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.

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

Runners running beneath a sign saying 'Only 385 yards to go!'
Phew, that's a relief! Photo: Stephen Craven

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

Organisers haven't confirmed a total number of London Marathon participants for 2024 yet, though we know that a record 578,374 people applied for a place this year. In 2023, 58,015 took part.

Any celebrities running the London Marathon this year?

A wheelchair athlete on Tower Bridge in a rhino costume
Look out for Martin Turner in the 2024 London Marathon. Photo: Anna Gordon for Save The Rhino

If we're talking famous athletes, we know that Sir Mo Farah ran his final marathon last year, so won't be taking part in 2024. Eilish McColgan, on the other hand, was due to run last year but withdrew due to a knee problem, so here's hoping she'll take part in 2024 instead. Of course, many long-distance runners may be using the Marathon as prep for the Paris Olympics later this summer.

There may well be some kind of tribute to Kenyan long-distance runner and London Marathon 2023 winner Kelvin Kiptum, who sadly died in a car crash along with his coach in February this year.

Beyond that, big names signed up for the 2024 London Marathon include:

and plenty of other familiar faces.

Costumes and record attempts in the 2024 London Marathon

Other runners to look out for include:

  • Lloyd Martin, a Special Olympics Great Britain athlete who is aiming to become the youngest known person with Down Syndrome to complete the route;
  • Dave, AKA 'the Running Telephone' (pictured above), who is taking part in his 25th marathon in aid of Samaritans, dressed in a telephone costume;
  • Critical care paramedic Caroline Duncan, who's going for the record of 'fastest marathon dressed in a flight suit' to raise money for the North West Air Ambulance;
  • A group of people running in a joint 10-person bus costume, while individually dressed as ‘everyday heroes’ from doctors to zookeepers;
  • Wales Rugby League athlete Martin Turner, the first person to tackle the course in a rhino wheelchair costume. The costume — an adaptation of the usual costumes worn by runners supporting Save The Rhino charity — has been specially fitted to his wheelchair.

Are there places left for the 2024 London Marathon?

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

You'll struggle to find a place to run at this late stage, though you might get lucky with a charity place.

How to enter the next London Marathon in 2025

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 (or sometimes even the day before) 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.