Virgin London Marathon 2010: New Route?

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23/06/2009 at 17:37

Hi all

Sir Richard Branson has revealed in today’s Evening Standard that he believes the route of the Virgin London Marathon could be revised to showcase more of the capital.

And now Dave Bedford, Race Director of the Virgin London Marathon wants to hear the views of the community too.

“We know that Richard and Virgin are really excited about sponsoring the London Marathon – and we are looking forward to working with them, they have some great ideas.

The current London Marathon course has developed since the first race in 1981 and now passes most of the iconic London sites: Starting at Greenwich and Blackheath, the Meridian Line, the Cutty Sark, City Hall, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Canary Wharf, Cleopatra’s Needle, The London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and finishing in The Mall.

We continually look at ways that we can make the Course more attractive to the 500,000 spectators and millions of viewers on BBC and around the World and work closely with the London Boroughs and the Cities of Westminster and London whilst being aware of the safety of runners and spectators and the impact the event has on the rest of London.

We would welcome any suggestions from the public that may enhance what is already viewed by many as the greatest Marathon Course in the World.”

What are your thoughts? Would you change the London Marathon course? Or do you like it just the way it is?

Please pop your suggestions right here on this thread - look forward to hearing all your ideas,



23/06/2009 at 18:44

Is it me or is Mr Branson taking charge of the marathon, not Mr Bedford. I think the route is good enough. What buzzes me is why the flipping spectators and the lazy ones watching on the telly. What about us who are running it. How about starting the race back to front. From the Mall to Greenwich. Or how about make a detour to the Olympic Stadium, do one lap and then back onto the same course.

23/06/2009 at 18:54

Ooh, this interesting.  Right, two things for starters - keep it flat and keep the start on Blackheath/Greenwich Park.  I've got used to the 5 mins warm-up from my front door.

Now let me get my thinking cap on regarding any parts of London which might be more scenic than Surrey Quays and I'll get back to you. 

23/06/2009 at 19:07

OK, I've already thought about it! I really don't think you should mess around with the start and finish.  Greenwich/Blackheath have become synonymous with the race and are perfectly suited to the race start logistics.  And my upstairs neighbours would get extremely upset if they can't stage their annual marathon breakfast party.  Sue makes an excellent kedgeree.

I'd also be inclined to keep the river crossing point at Tower Bridge - another iconic image of the race.  So maybe you can tinker with the route in parts of Surrey Quays before TB, and cut out some of the Docklands.  I guess you want to keep Canary Wharf in there, but maybe make it less twisty??  Then you'll have a few spare miles to play with when the race comes back along the Embankment - have Big Ben at about 22m and make better use of the Royal Parks.  The whole of the West End is pretty flat, the whole of Westminster Council's road network is b*ggered up for the day anyway, so have the route before Pall Mall finish using more of St James Park and Hyde Park, or maybe Oxford Street/Regent Street?  Westminster Council have already happily pedestrianised Oxford Street on the odd occasion, no problem.

There you go, new route sorted.

23/06/2009 at 19:09
...oh, or a right turn somewhere around Blackfriars underpass to take in St Paul's.  Best building in London. Not the world though, that's St Basil's in Moscow.
23/06/2009 at 19:59
Has Sir Richard indicated if he plans to run next year? I imagined he might be up for it but then he is getting on a bit.
23/06/2009 at 20:09
NorwichRunner wrote (see)
Has Sir Richard indicated if he plans to run next year? I imagined he might be up for it but then he is getting on a bit.

If he is running, its definitely a guaranteed place - for five years. I wonder if he come flying in on a Virgin plane then onto a Virgin train and the arrive at the start in a Virgin hot air balloon.
23/06/2009 at 20:30
your Virgin on the rediculous now runnerman
23/06/2009 at 22:00

Well, I am perfectly happy with it as it is.

If they try to send us up to Oxford st or something then there will be more climbing which will slow everyone down, including the elites, and that will have an effect on the standing of the race internationally.

I agree that the start is good. And we don't want to turn the race in to a series of tourism clich├ęs.
23/06/2009 at 22:49

Totally different.....but the Moonwalk this year took in a whole lot more of "  Central London" Starting in hyde park...and finishing there too......but

a) could it cope with the huge numbers of runners and staff,

b) if the route good for thing a few great ladies walking...not 35000 runners

c) do we really want to change it? 

23/06/2009 at 22:59

Biggest change i would make is missing out Poplar high street (thinks it's about the 20 mile mark), getting there about three hours in and being greeted by East London's finest drunks throwing pints of piss at me spoiled it for me two years ago (ok it's only happend once but once is enough), i like the idea of detouring through the olympic stadium, maybe cut out the couple of miles through the isle of dogs to get to stratford instead.

24/06/2009 at 02:13

One of the good things about the route is that it actually doesn't change, giving you a chance to improve over the course thru a few years.

I get the impression from the newspaper article that RB might feel he now owns the marathon rather than being its sponsor.
LIVERBIRD    pirate
24/06/2009 at 07:06

I see why he's tinkering with it though. I've oft heard it said that large sections of the course are "boring" and not really what people expect when they come to do a marathon in London. I've always believed they must mean the winding bit around the Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf excepted - maybe people like that)

FF's idea of taking in the Olympic area is appealing....

But then, if it were down to me, I'd run straight through Liz's back garden and mess up her lovely manicured lawn.

*throws away imaginary garden party invite*

24/06/2009 at 07:38

London marathon is a great course as it is.  I have run it ten times now and the support along the route is fantastic, even on the Isle of Dogs. 

Perhaps if changes are planned it could be open to debate amongst runners?  

24/06/2009 at 07:39
I know this is a sort of a debate but if a new route was planned it could be made public to be considered by runners?
24/06/2009 at 08:47
If it's not broken...why fix it?
ImRio    pirate
24/06/2009 at 08:49
I like it as it is.  Even though the Docklands area is not much fun it is an iconic race as it stands - Don't mess with it!
24/06/2009 at 09:48

I would say that if Virgin are putting up £XXXXXX in sponsorship, they SHOULD have a say in how/where it's run?

You can't expect someone like Richard Branson to stump up a huge wad of cash and then not stick his oar in.

The spectators are part of what make the race so 'special' - according to most people who run it, runnerman.  Having spectated several times, I can say that it's a pain getting to, from, and around the route.  Anything that would make that easier would be welcome, otherwise I may give up going to watch. 

As for asking the runners, NR - you ask 100 runners, you'd get 100 different opinions.  The London Marathon organisers have never taken much notice of what the runners think!

LIVERBIRD    pirate
24/06/2009 at 09:53
Wilkie wrote (see)

You can't expect someone like Richard Branson to stump up a huge wad of cash and then not stick his oar in.

I bet that's PRECISELY what they wanted Wilkie! (But they're not going to get it with our Dickie, are they?)
24/06/2009 at 10:33

Also, let's not forget that this event isn't really about runners - except the elites, who give it kudos.

This event is about raising money.  David Bedford et al are not really concerned about what your average club runner wants or thinks, only about how to maximise the income. 

Your average club runner doesn't raise money for charity (although some choose to), and contributes only their entry fee (which is really quite a modest fee). 

FLM was billed as the biggest fundraising event in the world, so we know where their priorities lay.  They'd rather have someone in a costume shaking a collecting tin than a 3- or 4-hour club runner - it's more camera-friendly.

I doubt that'll change with Mr Branson.

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