London Marathon Background Information
The London Marathon was founded by the athletes Chris Brasher and John Dislay in 1981 and it has taken place nearly every year ever since. The marathon follows a largely flat course along the River Thames and it passes by some of London’s most iconic landmarks. The race starts at Blackheath and ends at The Mall.
There are actually a number of events taking place on the day of the marathon. There is the public mass race, which everybody is welcome to take part in and it is the largest running event in the UK. However, there are also professional races for men and women, and it is these that you are most likely to bet on. There is also a mini-marathon race for participants under 17 years old, and there are elite level wheelchair races for men and women.
The London Marathon and Charity
The London Marathon is famous as a fundraising event and each edition manages to raise huge amounts of money for charity. Impressively, since the first race, more than £1 billion has been raised by participants in the marathon who have collected sponsorship from friends and family. In 2019, the last time the marathon took place, it raised £66.4 million for charity, which is the most ever raised in a single-day fund raising event.
Macmillan Cancer Support has been chosen as the official charity for the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon and they are hoping to break the previous fund raising record. The amount raised does seem to increase almost every year, so there is a very good chance that they will do so. Here is a quick look at some previous years, the number of participants and how much was raised:
- 2007 – 37,396 participants, £46.5 million raised
- 2010 – 36,956 participants, £50.06 million raised
- 2015 – 38,020 participants, £54.1 million raised
- 2018 – 40,220 participants, £63.7 million raised
- 2019 – 42,906 participants, £66.4 million raised
There are 50,000 places available for the 2021 London marathon and assuming they are all filled, this year’s event is set to raise an even more impressive amount of money for charity.
The London Marathon Route
There are many marathons around the world each year and the only thing that really separates them is the route that they follow. As mentioned, the London Marathon follows a largely flat route, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular with amateur runners. As is usual, the route is 42.195 kilometres (26.2 miles) long and it is marked clearly at one-mile intervals.
There are actually three starting points for the marathon, all very near Blackheath in Greenwich. The Red start is in southern Greenwich Park on Charlton Way, the Green start is located in St. John’s Park, and the Blue start is on Shooter’s Hill. Regardless of where a runner starts, the courses meet after just 4.5 kilometres in Woolwich, near the Royal Artillery Barracks.
There are a number of important points on the route. The first checkpoint comes after 10 kilometres when the runners pass the Old Royal Naval College. They then head to the Cutty Sark, which used to be a clipper ship that transported alcohol and tea between the UK and China. The atmosphere around the Cutty Sark is always fantastic on Marathon Day, as it is one of the most popular points with spectators.
The next famous landmark for runners is The Shard, which comes just before the 20-kilometre mark. The Shard is the UK’s tallest building, the fifth-tallest building in Europe, and the newest landmark on the Marathon route. Just a few miles/kilometres later comes Tower Bridge, which is probably the most famous landmark on the route and it comes just before the halfway point.
After 18 miles/29 kilometres, the runners arrive at Canary Wharf, which has been the financial hub of the UK since 1991. Packed full of skyscrapers, it is now a truly iconic part of London. Next up, after another 7 miles/11 kilometres, runners will see the London eye as they go along the Victoria Embankment to Westminster. At the same time, runners will pass Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
The final part of the race brings the participants face to face with Buckingham Palace, which is just a few hundred metres from the finish line on The Mall. The first London Marathon ended on Constitution Hill, from 1982 to 1993 the race ended on Westminster Bridge, but since 1994 the finish line has been on The Mall.
The Types of London Marathon Races
The London Marathon actually consists of many races all taking place on the same day. The main event is the mass public race, which is commonly referred to as the “mass start”.
As the name suggests, this race has thousands of participants and it is the core component of the London Marathon. In the interest of fairness, ideally all participants should be starting at the same time and in the same place (otherwise, they may face different environmental conditions). However, with so many people running the London Marathon, this is practically impossible, which is why there are now three starting points. Furthermore, the mass start race is split into separate events for men and women.
Another major event is the wheelchair race. This is open to athletes with any qualifying type of disability, such as amputees, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and so on. Those who take part in the wheelchair race will also be classified according to the severity and nature of their disability.
The final race is the Mini London Marathon. This is a much shorter race, just 2.6 miles, which is designed for participants who are school aged. It also follows a predetermined route and it has a mass start.
Betting on the London Marathon Betting
While you are unlikely to bet on the amateur runners in the London Marathon, you will be able to bet on the professional race. It attracts many of the top marathon runners from around the world, which means that there will be plenty of runners to bet on. Interestingly, this year a number of marathon runners funded by London Marathon Events have been selected to represent Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Steph Davis Jess Pasecki, Chris Thompson and Ben Connor.
In fact, the upcoming Olympics is a great opportunity to assess the form of these runners and many more. If you are planning to bet on the London Marathon, then be sure to keep a close eye on the Olympics to see which runners seem to be in form. While there is a few months’ gap between the two events, it will still be a valuable research resource.
Betting on marathons is not at all straightforward. The events do not take place very often and there are a huge number of external factors that can influence the results (weather, routes, etc.). However, there are certain strategies that you can use to increase your chances of placing winning bets.
As mentioned, you should certainly be looking at the forthcoming Olympics to assess the various runners’ forms. However, you need to look at as many events as you can from the past year. Due to the pandemic, there have not been as many marathons as usual, so you will have less information to work with, but whatever you can gather will help. As always, if you are interested in a specific athlete, then pay attention to his/her recent form, any injuries they may have, and how they have performed in the London Marathon in the past.
There will not be many betting markets available for the London marathon. You can of course bet on the winner, and you may be able to place it as an each way bet. You can also bet on both the men and women’s races, and you will be able to back runners to finish in the places. There may also be a few proposition bets available, such as whether a new world record will be set.
In short, take your time to do some research, look at the individuals, the odds, recent performances and so on. Also, don’t forget to consider the weather forecast. British weather is notoriously changeable, and you need to be aware of how the runners have performed in different conditions. Hopefully, by taking all of this into account, you will be able to place numerous successful bets on the London Marathon.