The marathon distance is 26.2 miles, or 42.2km. They are often seen as one of the main goals in a runner's lifetime. Completing one is a real feat of mental and physical resilience, and requires a serious amount of commitment and training if you are seeking a bragworthy time. Most marathons in the UK take part in the major cities, taking you through streets lined with cheering crowds and a vibrant atmosphere and passing historic landmarks. The London Marathon is the most famous of these, and is one of the six world marathon majors. Other marathons might take you out of the city and into the UK's stunning rural scenery. Some routes take in the national parks or the rugged coasts, so these races are a great way to see some incredible views while also achieving something incredible. Marathons are also amazing fundraising opportunities if you're feeling charitable. The London Marathon has raised over £1 billion since it started in 1981.
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About Marathons in the UK
Marathons are 26.2 miles long (or 42.2k) and make up some of the most popular and spectacular races held in the UK. People run marathons for many different reasons, either for a loved one, a personal goal or for a great cause. In 2016, Shannon Foudy became the one millionth runner to complete the London Marathon.
What are the best marathons?
The most famous is the London Marathon, which last year produced a record 40,000+ finishers and over 800,000 spectators flooded the streets to cheer them on. If you're thinking of running a marathon, London is not only the most popular but also one of the flattest, so it's a great place to push for a PB. If you missed out on a ballot place, other super flat marathons include ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon, Brighton Marathon, and Edinburgh Marathon. These are held in the spring / early summer, around the same time as the London Marathon. If you're looking for something a little more off the beaten path, the New Forest Marathon, Baxters Loch Ness Marathon (watch out for Nessie) and Yorkshire Marathon all run from late summer into autumn.
How long will it take me to run a marathon?
The average time for London Marathon finishers in 2018 was 3h48m for males and 4h23m for females. This is significantly faster than the global average of around 4h13m and 4h42m for men and women respectively. Don't focus too much on what others are doing, keep your own pace and don't worry if you're overtaken by an inflatable T-Rex, they can be pretty speedy!
Keep in mind that your finishing time can be greatly affected by the course, some marathons are particularly fast (e.g. Berlin, London), and the average time for different marathons can vary - make sure you check out the course maps and elevation profiles to get a feel for the route.
For trivia fans, the world record for women was set in London by Paula Radcliffe in 2003 at 2h15m25s and is still proving tough to beat. The men's record was beaten in Berlin in 2018 by Eliud Kipchoge and at 2h01m39s is pushing close to breaking the elusive 2 hour barrier.
How do you train for a marathon?
To ensure you are ready come race day, check out our free marathon training plan, with nutrition and race tips included. Training for a marathon takes time and dedication. We recommend starting 16 weeks prior to race day, regardless of whether you are entering your first race or looking to hit a new PB.