Held every spring since 1981, the London Marathon is one of the most popular races in the world. It has grown from a field of 6,255 people in 1981 to a record field of 35,694 runners who completed the race in 2007. It is estimated that in the past thirty years, over 750,000 people have completed the London Marathon.
The London marathon is not just a mass participation race, however, it is also one of the top races for elite runners, and is one of the five top world marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors competition, with its annual prize purse of $1 million.
The London marathon was the idea of former Olympic champion and journalist Chris Brasher, and Welsh athlete John Disley, and these days has the former 10,000m world record holder David Bedford on board as Race Director.
Athletes of all ability levels enjoy the flat course – it begins at three different points around Blackheath, then joins up to run along the River Thames, before finishing in The Mall alongside St. James's Palace.
More than almost any other race, the London Marathon has become synonymous with fundraising, with a staggering £450 million raised for charity since 1981. Every year, around 75% of participants raise money, with the 2009 race setting a Guinness world record as the largest fund raising event, with over £47.2 million raised for charity.
Over the years it has attracted some of the top runners in the world, with a number of world records. Khalid Khannouchi, from the United States, set the men's world record in 2:05:38 in 2002, a time that stood as the course record until Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru set a new course record of 2:05:10 in 2009.
Perhaps the most famous run in London was done by the UK's own Paula Radcliffe, who in 2003 set the women's world record of 2:15:25, a time that still stands as both the course and world record.
Whatever your running ability, this is one of the great sporting events to take part in. You will never be alone, with thousands of runners of all levels ensuring that whatever your speed, you will always have others of a similar ability around you, while the crowds will cheer you all the way to the finish line.
If you have never run a marathon, why not consider signing up for next year's race and join the thousands of others who have enjoyed this great race?