RW's Flora London Marathon Mile-by-mile Guide

Running the Flora London Marathon? Plan your race with our Mile-by-mile guide to the world's best 26.2


Posted: 9 April 2007
by Gemma Robinson

Ready, steady... go!
Mile 1 There are three different starts at the FLM and, unless you’re on the Green Start, expect it to be crowded. Very crowded. That’s no bad thing, though. Many a marathon has been ruined in the opening stages by an overenthusiastic start, but if you’re at the Blue or Red starts then there’s little chance of setting off too quickly. Be patient and enjoy the incredible atmosphere. Look out for the RUNNER’S WORLD Pacers too.

Mile 2 It’s flat, and if you’re with a Pacer running nine-minute miles or faster you should be reaching your target pace. Don’t imagine that you’ll have space to think, though, you’ll still be bumping elbows and clipping heels with fellow runners. Don’t bother weaving in and out to gain position, it’s still far too early – and energy-sapping – to worry about this.

Mile 3 Overall, this is a downhill mile and you should enjoy a little more room. It won’t last, because just before you run under the balloon arch marking three miles, the Blue and Red starts converge, to much good-natured jeering. If you suspected that you were taking part in a big event, here’s the proof. The first drinks station is just before the mile marker and you’ll be able to take water every mile from now on, and Lucozade Sport every three. We’d recommend that you top up your juice every two or three miles.

Mile 4 You could go crazy on this section as it includes the steepest and fastest downward slope on the route. You still have 22 miles to go, though, so we don’t recommend a furious descent. Instead, enjoy your first glimpse of the River Thames as you head along Woolwich Church Street.

Mile 5 Woolwich Road isn’t exciting, but you will notice that spectators are thick on the ground. Enjoy the applause, and if you notice that you’re still not on schedule don’t panic – you still have plenty of distance left in which you can gradually make up lost time.

Don't jump ship yet: you've still 20 miles to go
Mile 6 The first mile with genuine tourist-pleasing credentials – you’re heading through Greenwich so you’ll pass Inigo Jones’s Queen’s House and Wren’s Royal Naval Hospital – tick them off in the Spotter’s Guide you’ll no doubt be carrying. Now’s a good time to swallow an energy gel, or chomp some Jelly Babies.

Mile 7 Don’t forget to wave! You’ll pass the Cutty Sark at around six-and-a-half and this is where the BBC tends to shoot most of the "fun-runner" images it’ll use in the highlights show. The crowd here is huge and the cheering will give you a boost. It may also make you speed up – whoah there, rein in the adrenaline. You’ve 20 miles still to run.

Mile 8 Aahh, Deptford, home of… erm… Creek Road, which is flat and reasonably wide. So, as there’s no view to take in, run a quick systems check – how are your legs feeling? Is your breathing relaxed? Does your target need changing?

Mile 9 Welcome to Docklands! You’re heading towards the twists and turns of Surrey Docks, and while far from deserted the crowds do thin out, so your concentration might start to wander. Focus!

A couple more miles and you'll be north of the river
Mile 10 According to the FLM’s website, the highlights of this mile are Surrey Docks City Farm and the Holiday Inn. Now, we like hotels, but if that’s the best there is, best move onto mile 11.

Mile 11 That’s more like it – at 10.5 miles you pass within just 250m of the Mayflower pub.

Mile 12 There’s a slight rise along Jamaica Road, but this is as close as the FLM comes to a climb.

Mile 13 Enjoy one of the best bits of the route, the crossing of Tower Bridge. The crowds here are incredible and if you’re in fancy dress, a BBC sports presenter will try and grab you for an interview, so keep your head down and stay calm. For a reality check it’s worth noting that, as you pass the Tower of London on the left, the stretch of road you’ll be running after 22 miles is just below you. That’s a long way off.

Mile 14 Point-one-of-a-mile past the 13-mile marker and you hit halfway. If you’re still feeling fresh, then your goal should be to achieve the runner’s Holy Grail and record a negative split (complete the second half faster). If you’re aiming for around four hours you could enjoy a grandstand view of the leaders on the other side of the road.

Mile 15 Slightly downhill and you’ll pass St Anne’s Church, which was restored with money raised by FLM.

Mile 16 Ever wondered where the biggest inner-city farm in Europe is? Well, it’s in Mudchute on the Isle of Dogs. It has llamas. Anyway, you’re coming up to the last 10 miles and it can be tempting to push on, but a lot can change in 10 miles so it’s still a good idea to keep your powder dry.

Mile 17 It’s here that crowds are at their most sparse so you might need to call on some self-motivation methods to boost your spirits. Remember – you’re a tiger. If that doesn’t help, finish off your energy products – anything you eat after this will have little effect.

Hang on in there, not long to go (honest!)
Mile 18 It’s flat but as you head towards Canary Wharf it can become surprisingly cosy again, as the enthusiastic crowds in these parts can encroach onto the road. Also, it’s about now that a few runners’ wheels will be falling off, so expect people to start walking, or simply stopping dead, in front of you.

Mile 19 Another chance to wave at your fellow competitors and this time you’ll be the heroes – as you approach the City Pride pub, you’ll see runners who are up to three miles behind you. The route becomes congested for a while through the twisty bits past the 244m tall One Canada Square.

Mile 20 Former world-marathon record holder Steve Jones once said of the marathon: "I just run as hard as I can for 20 miles, and then race." However, many of us will simply be happy to live through the last six miles. If you do hit the wall now, drag yourself over to the side of the road so other runners don’t clatter into you.

Mile 21 Running along the unprepossessing Commercial Road is strangely uplifting. The support is brilliant and, no matter how tired you are, you know most of the hard work has been done.

Mile 22 "… great views of Thomas Telford’s 1828 warehouses..." boasts the FLM website. Hands up any London marathon veteran who has ever noticed these? Thought not, you’re much more likely to notice that the runners heading in the opposite direction are only just past the half-way point and have a hell of a lot more running to do than you. Schaudenfreude, anyone?

Mile 23 Once upon a time, this mile meant the "dreaded cobbles" next to the Tower of London, but the course was changed in 2005 to avoid them. You still run past the Tower and you’ll also see Tower Bridge again. Remember that?

Mile 24 Lower Thames Street provides fantastic crowd support, and because of the proximity of many a decent pub, it becomes better as the day progresses. There’s also a slight downhill into the Blackfriars Underpass. Better than that, the Lucozade Sport station here has, in the past, been manned by the likes of Olympic rowing gold-medallist James Cracknell and England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson.

Time to celebrate and pose for the camera
Mile 25 Wide, straight and buzzing, the Embankment is one the most inspiring places to be at the end of a great marathon. If you’re feeling good you’ll be able to fly past hundreds of runners. If it hasn’t been a great marathon it’s one hell of a drag.

Mile 26 As you turn past Big Ben, don’t unleash your sprint finish just yet. Instead, savour the huge crowds as you head onto Parliament Square and then into the cacophony of noise and colour that is Birdcage Walk. The 800m-to-go sign is just before Buckingham Palace and boy, is it a long 800 metres. That said, if you have anything left in your tank pick it up now and speed down the Mall. And make sure that you enjoy the best finishing straight of any marathon anywhere in the world.


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