The Virgin Money London Marathon route guide
Preview 26 miles of highs, lows, and glorious views
Nothing beats the excitement of race day for the Virgin Money London Marathon. Yet, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in preparing for the starting line – from refining your training plan to setting up a fundraising page.
Then there’s the route, where almost every mile has a landmark worth keeping an eye out for. From the sprawl of Greenwich Park at the starting line to the iconic Tower Bridge crossing – you’re best to know what’s coming up.
The Virgin Money London Marathon route in a nutshell
The route starts at Blackheath, and passes through Greenwich before crossing the Thames over the world-famous Tower Bridge. It then continues through central London, winding around the peaks of Canary Wharf and along Victoria Embankment before finishing on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
Your (almost) step-by-step guide
Your race number dictates where you’ll start from – either the red, yellow, green or blue start lines. These separate starting points help avoid an early crush.
The first few miles
Start off leisurely and find your rhythm against the spacious green backdrop of Greenwich Park and the grounds of Charlton House – a stunning Jacobean mansion. Focus on keeping a steady pace at this early stage.
As if you’re willing them into existence, some very welcome downhill stretches appear. Avoid the temptation to speed up. Let gravity do its thing and you’ll naturally make up time when you hit the flat ground, a little rested. Watch out for bottlenecks as the various starting lines combine and the course narrows a little.
Around mile seven you hit Cutty Sark – one of the best supported points on the route and a perfect spot to hydrate. The views of the ship are fantastic, and the crowd should boost your spirits. You’ve done more than a quarter of the race and are hopefully hitting a real stride now.
We’re approaching your first iconic marathon moment here, as you turn the corner onto Tower Bridge. Bask in the glory – you’ll have hundreds of spectators cheering you along.
Just over the bridge and you’re halfway there. Congratulations! You might be struggling a bit by now. And faster runners passing you in the opposite direction here won’t help. Luckily there are sights to take your mind off things – keep an eye out for St George in the East, a stunning 16th century Anglican Church.
As you wind through Canary Wharf, others might increase their pace as they enter final stretch. Keep your stride steady, as there is still some way to go. As you cross the bridge at Blackwall Basin, look right for great views of the O2 Arena.
You’re getting close. This is a low key stretch of the route, before the real sights. Use this time to compose yourself, and try not to worry about timings.
You’ve reached the most iconic stretch of the route. First, you’ll pass under Blackfriars Bridge, emerging to huge crowds. Continuing along Victoria Embankment you’ll pass Whitehall Gardens – and just over the river is the London Eye.
With less than a mile to go, the sights come thick and fast. Your adrenaline should still be pumping as you turn the corner to Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.
You made it!
As you pass Buckingham Palace and around the Victoria Memorial onto The Mall, you’ll feel the ecstasy of approaching the finish line. This long straight stretch can feel like a struggle – but one final push is all that’s required. You can do it!
Preview the route
It’s all good us telling you about the route, but it’s far better to see it for yourself. Our Virgin Money London Marathon time lapse video gives you a sneak preview of what to expect.