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Virgin Money London Marathon

Run 26.2mi
Event details
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The London Marathon has been postponed to October 4, 2020. Take up the challenge of this truly global event. Runners will not go a single mile without feeling the rush of music and cheering supporters spurring them on.

Review summary

51 Reviews
  • Course
  • Organisation
  • Atmosphere


Fran O
"Simply the best marathon ever! The atmosphere is incredible with supporters for..."


Jennifer B
"One of the six marathon majors, the most over subscribed and popular event on..."


Becky H
"Simply AMAZING!!! The organisation was spot on, bag drop was a breeze, lots of..."
See all reviews

How to enter the Virgin Money London Marathon

  1. London Marathon

    Run 26.2mi
    Event passed

Virgin Money London Marathon route

The London Marathon course is one of the most iconic routes in running. Winding its way through the heart of the capital, with crowds lining the side of the route at every step, the course has barely changed since the race was first held in 1981.

The course begins starts in leafy Blackheath, heads east through Charlton and Woolwich for three miles, turns west and passes the Cutty Sark in Greenwich after six to seven miles. It crosses the River Thames at Tower Bridge and then loops around the east end of London, past Canary Wharf in Docklands, before heading west again along the Highway and the Embankment to Parliament Square, Birdcage Walk and the final corner in front of Buckingham Palace.

Event Details

What’s Included
  • Finisher's Medal
  • T-Shirt
  • Goody Bag
  • Marshalled Course
  • Water Stations
  • Aid Stations
  • Freebies at the ExCel centre
  • Life Long Memories
Raceday Logistics

There are three Start Areas at the Virgin Money London Marathon – Red, Blue, and Green – and the colour of your running number indicates your Start Area. Each Start Area has eight zones – numbered 1 to 8 - and you will be informed of your Start Zone when you register at Expo.

The zone you have been allocated to is based on your predicted finish time when you entered. Please note: You cannot change your Start Area or move to an earlier Start Zone. However, if you think your predicted finish time is now too fast, you will be allowed to join a later Start Zone.

To make sure the start of your race goes smoothly, you just need to do the following:

  • Go to your correct Start Area
  • Drop off the kitbag you have been provided
  • Join your correct Start Zone
  • Follow the instructions of the marshals

Kitbags and baggage lorries

The PA systems at each start area will tell you when to put your kitbag onto the appropriate baggage vehicle in the start area.

You should hand your bag in at the lorry with the number range which corresponds to your running number. Staff on the lorries will only accept official Virgin Money London Marathon kitbags, so please ensure you have stuck your self-adhesive running number label to the kitbag where indicated.

You will then be able to retrieve your kitbag from the baggage lorries after you finish. Once you have deposited your kitbag on the lorry, you will not be able to retrieve your belongings until you arrive at the finish.

Kit List

What to look for in your kit

The best thing that your kit should provide for long distance events such as the marathon is the ability to wick away sweat, to avoid any discomfort caused by wet kit. But there are also specific things you should look for in all aspects of your training gear:


Basic sports socks will absorb sweat and will move about in the shoe which will only facilitate blisters. For a run such as a marathon you should definitely invest in some fitted running-specific socks. Anatomically (left and right specific) fitted socks with Climacool fabric will reduce the incidence of blistering.

Shorts and T-shirts

Non-technical garments tend to be heavy to start with but can get much heavier with rain or sweat. This means that you're not only wearing extra weight while you run, but because they're not quick drying you'll also remain wet throughout your run. Look for wicking fabrics such as adidas Climacool fabrics which not only effectively wick away sweat but also feature extra ventilation at the key body zones (which differ from the men’s product to the women’s product). adidas products also include a Formotion cut (which means they are cut on a 3D model as opposed to flat, like other brands), ensuring the garments sit well on the body during any motion so you don’t even notice it’s on.


Again adidas Formotion cut and lycra content ensures ease of motion, as well as additional support on the muscle groups which can be vulnerable during cold snaps or when fatigued. Furthermore, being peppered with Scotchlite ensures you are visible to traffic. Many women (and some men) will prefer a ¾ tight or short tight to a conventional short in warmer weather. Many men will use a short tight, not just for the supportive lycra benefits around the major muscle groups but to prevent the chaffing that they may get when wearing a short.


Formotion cuts again apply, plus there is the added benefit of buffering the rain. Fitted, wickable, quick drying, lightweight fibres are the key things to look for in jackets to ensure they’re fit for your running needs. As you will be training a lot in the darker months, reflective materials should also be a must. We have several jackets in our range and pockets, removable sleeves and mp3 pockets are all things that make them versatile pieces of kit.

On the day

It is always important to wear what you're comfortable in, and make sure that you've already worn and washed the clothes that you're planning on wearing on the day. As well as your own personal needs the weather will play a key factor in your apparel of choice. Those of you planning to be on your feet for some time will have to pay attention to the fact that you will be exposed for a prolonged period over which time your body temperature could fluctuate. Here's some things to consider:

In mild weather you should look at including some lightweight cover-up pieces like a long sleeve t-shirt and a ¾ or short tight.

If it's due to be very hot and sunny, consider wearing a t-shirt instead of a vest as well as a cap to avoid the risk of sunburn (especially if you are expecting to be taking 5 or 6 hours as opposed to 2 or 3). Quicker runners (sub 4 hours) will prefer lighter, minimal kit as you will be running more intensely for a shorter period.

Unseasonably cold weather should make faster runners consider slightly warmer layers whilst the slower participants should consider tights and lightweight jackets that can be zipped and unzipped en route - plus, the pocket detail has a practical benefit for carrying nutritional snacks.

A pair of lightweight Climacool gloves in mild or cold weather are invaluable for all runners as cold hands can be a very uncomfortable distraction and can have a knock-on effect to overall body temperature. If the conditions warm up they can easily be discarded, or if you’re reluctant to get rid of them they can always be stuffed in a waistband with minimal interference.


The Virgin Money London Marathon App

The official Virgin Money London Marathon App will be available ahead of Race Day.

Getting around

With all roads closed (visit our road closures page for more details), the only way to get around is by public transport. London Underground, London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) lay on extra services on Race Day, and this is by far the best way to get around.

Before setting off, you need to prepare – spectating isn’t quite as tough as marathon training but it still needs some thought:

Travel light – you will be standing for hours on end, so keep your belongings to a minimum and try and leave as many valuables as you can at home.

Comfortable clothes (especially shoes) are a must. You should be prepared for a typical April day in London – sun, showers and wind.

It’s busy! If you are a regular commuter, think rush hour. If not, think what it’s like when you attend a concert or festival. You will often have to queue and some stations may be forced to shut temporarily while staff clear the crowds.

Expect to do lots of walking, including stairs and escalators – you should think carefully before bringing young children; pushchairs can also be troublesome.

Places to avoid

If you want to follow your loved ones and try to get a glimpse of them as they pass, it is suggested that you avoid very crowded areas, where it can be difficult to find a viewing spot, hard to move around and tough to get in and out.

Busy areas include Greenwich town centre and the Cutty Sark. While the ship is undoubtedly a beautiful backdrop for the race, the crowds that are attracted here can make spectating uncomfortable and transport in and around Greenwich becomes particularly busy.

Tower Bridge is always extremely busy, as is anywhere from mile 24 to the finish in The Mall. Obviously many of you will eventually end up in this area later on in the day as you head to the runner meet and greet area in Horse Guards Road.

Spectator routes from central London stations

The mass race starts at 10:00 from Blackheath and Greenwich Park. We don’t suggest accompanying your runner to the start. The assembly areas are for runners only, so you will have to say goodbye well before race time anyway. There are a couple of options. All runners are entitled to free travel to the start on Southeastern trains from Charing Cross, Waterloo East, Cannon Street and Victoria. If you were to say goodbye at any one of these stations, then it’s an easy transfer onto the London Underground to make your way onto the marathon route, get your spot and probably have time for some breakfast too!

Runners are encouraged to get to the starts early – the first trains leave central London at 06:50 – so if you travel into London together you will have plenty of time. You won’t be bored – the elite wheelchair race starts at 08:55, followed by the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulatory) at 09:00 and the elite women at 09:15. The elite men will start at 10:00, followed by the masses.

From Charing Cross you can take the Northern line southbound to Waterloo. Transferring onto the Jubilee line eastbound gives a number of options. From London Bridge station you can walk along Tooley Street to Tower Bridge Road and see the runners just before they cross Tower Bridge at mile 12. Or, walk over London Bridge into the City of London – the race passes underneath London Bridge.

If you are early enough (between 08:40 and 09:30) you will see the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon age-group races, which start just east of London Bridge. Later on, the main race passes by at mile 23.

If you keep walking you will reach Bank station, a major underground interchange. It also connects with the DLR, so you can head east out towards Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs to see the race between miles 14 to 21. Canada Water station on the Jubilee line is a short walk to mile nine at Surrey Quays. If you get back on the Jubilee line eastbound you can get to Canary Wharf (mile 19).

Another option from Charing Cross is to travel south one stop to Embankment and connect with the District & Circle lines eastbound. Get off at Tower Hill and you can watch the runners from a number of locations in this area BUT it will be very, very busy.

The best option is to walk from Tower Hill station to Tower Gateway on the DLR and head east out towards the Isle of Dogs.

Cannon Street and Victoria are also on the District and Circle lines – see suggested connections above.

Runner meet and greet area

It can be very busy, so please take note of the following advice. There will be meeting points in Horse Guards Road and Horse Guards Parade with areas marked by letters of the alphabet – meet at your family initial or at another pre-arranged letter.

Please meet your runner at one of these meeting points. DO NOT congregate around the exit from the secure area at the top of Horse Guards Road. This causes massive congestion for exiting runners as well as other health and safety issues for the large numbers of people in this area. Both the Police and our security personnel are under strict instructions not to allow people to congregate here and to move them along.

Heavy mobile phone traffic on all networks means you may find it difficult to get a signal in and around the finish area. Therefore, do not rely on mobile phones but plan where to meet in advance.

Runners are more likely to run slower than their predicted time. After crossing the Finish Line it will take a minimum of 15 minutes and closer to 30-40 minutes to reach the runner meet and greet area. Remember to build these factors into your arrangements when planning to meet your runner.

And finally...

Make sure you have the details of your runner’s race number. It is the easiest way for our information point to identify them on our database.


The Virgin Money London Marathon receives incredible volunteer support and there are approximately 6,000 volunteers who join the team and play a crucial role in the delivery of the event.

How to get involved

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Virgin Money London Marathon volunteering programme:

Can I volunteer as an individual?

You can register your interest in individual volunteering opportunities with us and be amongst the first to know when any new opportunities become available. To register your interest visit the VLM website.

Which groups currently volunteer at the event?

The event receives incredible volunteer support from a diverse range of groups from across London and the south of England, from running clubs, sports clubs, schools and universities, to community organisations, scout groups, police cadets, the London Fire Brigade, the parkrun community and volunteering partners. All groups recruit volunteers from within their own membership and a full list of groups who support the event will be added to these pages in due course.

I am part of a group that would like to volunteer at the London Marathon, how do we register interest?

If you are from a community group, charity, sports club or any other type of group that may be interested in volunteering at the event, please email [email protected] with your name and contact details and a member of the team will be in touch.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enter the London Marathon?
The majority of runners apply for the London Marathon by entering the ballot, with a 4% chance of getting in. If you don't get in through the ballot, you can run for a charity, for which there are about 15,000 places. You can also get a good-for-age place, details of which can be found here:
At what time does the London Marathon start?
The mass start of the London Marathon starts at 10:10 am on race morning
What is the cut-off time for the London Marathon?
The cut-off time for the London Marathon is 7 hours. You can continue running after this time, but you will have to run on the pavement, as roads will reopen, and you will not receive a finisher's medal.
Where can I find results for the London Marathon?
Results for the London Marathon can be found here

Virgin Money London Marathon weather forecast

Rain throughout the day.

Predicted highs
Predicted lows
IconHigh chance of rain
IconLight breeze possible, up to 9mph

Meet the organiser

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The London Marathon (currently known through sponsorship as the Virgin Money London Marathon) is a long-distance running event held in London, United Kingdom, part of the World Marathon Majors. The event was first run on 29 March 1981 and has been held in the spring of every year since. Since 2010, the race has been sponsored by Virgin Money.



Virgin Money London Marathon reviews (51)

4.9 out of 5 stars

  • Course
  • Organisation
  • Atmosphere
  • Did the London Marathon in 2019

    End of an Epic Month
  • Did the London Marathon in 2018

    So So So Hot
  • Did the London Marathon in 2017

    One of the six marathon majors, the most over subscribed and popular event on the planet, incredible crowds, unique atmosphere, an opportunity to run this event is an opportunity not to be missed.
  • Did the London Marathon in 2019

    Simply AMAZING!!! The organisation was spot on, bag drop was a breeze, lots of toilets, the waves were easy to navigate. Potentially the best day. Ever!
  • E

    Ed H

    Did the London Marathon in 2019

    An amazing atmosphere along the whole route added to an amazing well organised day. Great pre and post race experience also
  • Did the London Marathon in 2019

    My first ever marathon was an amazing experience at the VLM 2019. The race was so well organised and the volunteers were so helpful and friendly. The race itself was mostly enjoyable and the ginormous crowds were fantastic. I highly recommend this event for a beginner.
  • Did the London Marathon in 2019

    I am in full love with this event which I have run twice, 2017 and 2019. Super well organised, amazing volunteers and has the most cheering crowds in the world! With several endorphin-boost locations - Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Warf and Big Ben - it's a MUST race!
  • Did the London Marathon in 2019

    London Marathon 2019 - What an amazing weekend. Honestly one of the best experiences (if not the best) of my life. I felt like a child in a sweet shop at the expo on the Saturday and then there was race day - just wow. I finished in 3:15:08 but I actually ran an extra 0.3 miles so would have been even quicker - oops! The race was fantastic, the crowds were unreal. Hearing so many people cheer my name was incredible. I had run my first marathon in Brighton two weeks before and ran London so much more intelligently, finishing strong in the last 4 miles and absolutely in control. It would have been easy to get carried away and go off too fast but I knew all too well the feeling of 'The Wall' and paced my race to a near on straight line, which allowed me to enjoy every second. Turning the last corner, passing the famous 385 yards to go sign and heading onto the most amazing Union Jack emblazoned home straight was such an unbelievable feeling. It really was one of the best days of my life and I was so happy. The London Marathon is organised seamlessly and absolutely lives up to the hype and more so. You have to experience it!
  • Did the London Marathon in 2019

    Simply the best marathon ever! The atmosphere is incredible with supporters for the full 26.2 miles, you'll look forward to the 2 tunnels where you can blow your nose and eat a jelly baby with your mouth open. Nice flat course which passes through Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and finally the Embankment, finishing with an epic view of Buckingham Palace. Fantastically well organised, just need a few more porta loos at the race start.
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