Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Alexandra Parren and Katie Strick

London Marathon 2024: Where to watch, route, start time, rail strikes and celebrities to look out for

Swap your sambas for sneakers and get warming up that cheer voice. Britain’s biggest marathon, the London Marathon, returns to the streets of central London this weekend and it’s set to be the greatest yet. More than half a million people are set to take on the world-famous 26.2-mile course — a new record (the previous was set in 2019) — and many thousands more are set to turn out to cheer them on.

If you managed to secure a place in the running equivalent of Glastonbury, you should probably buy a lottery ticket and watch out for lightning (apparently just four per cent of applicants actually get a place, according to new data). If you weren’t lucky enough to nab a spot this year, you can still revel in the buzz and drama of race day. Bonus: no blisters. Folding bike brand Brompton is offering free bike hire to anyone supporting so you can whizz to as many cheer spots as possible. Just head to the brand’s hire stations at East India, Broadgate and Regents Place.

From the hottest support spots and celebrities to look out for, to free food and Brockwell Lido dips for finishers, here’s everything you need to know.

When is the 2024 London marathon?


Sunday is race day and conditions are looking good, with mild temperatures, gentle winds (finally!) and lots of sunshine.

The elite and wheelchair races start from 08:30am, and the mass participation waves will kick off between 10:00am until 11:30am.

Where to watch

Runners finish the London Marathon at the Mall (Action Images via Reuters)

For cheer-squad novices, there are two rules for supporting: download the official London marathon app so you can track your runner, and plan ahead. The route starts in Blackheath and winds its way past many of the capital’s most iconic sights before ending on The Mall, so prepare yourself for some shoulder-barging if you want to see your runner (and your runner to see you).

The most popular cheer spots are at the Cutty Sark (mile 6), Tower Bridge (mile 12), Canary Wharf (mile 18), the Tower of London (mile 22), the London Eye and Big Ben (mile 25) and Buckingham Palace (mile 26), but you might have a better chance of wiggling your way to the front of the crowd if you pick a different spot. Miles 9 to 12 around Rotherhithe and Bermondsey are a good option if you want to give your runner a much-needed pick-me-up early-on, and miles 14 to 21 around Limehouse and Canary Wharf are a great base if you want to see your runner multiple times without having to walk too far.

That said, you might not need to walk at all. Thanks to Brompton’s special marathon day treat, supporters can bag themselves a free folding bike for getting around town. Just email with your runner’s bib number and you’ll receive a special code. The three hire stations with access to the race route are East India Station, Broadgate, and Regents Place.For those with disabilities, the accessible cheer points can be found at Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf, Rainbow Row (Butcher Row), Tower Hill and Victoria Embankment.

See above for a map of the route on Strava. And here’s our list of the best pubs, bars and restaurants along the full 26.2-mile route.

Will rail strikes affect the London marathon 2024?

Runners pass the Old Naval College, Greenwich, during the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

No self-respecting British event would be complete without a train strike. Mercifully, there are no Tube strikes planned for Sunday, but if you’re taking part and have friends or family travelling into London from the Midlands or the north, they’ll need to plan ahead.

Strike action will affect the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) network with no service on Saturday 20 April, the day before the race, and reduced service on the day itself. Although strike action shouldn’t affect London trains, do note that there are planned engineering works and closures on the Elizabeth line, Waterloo & City line and the London tram on race day itself.

How to watch on TV and live stream

Race: London Marathon runners on the Mall

If you can’t make it into the capital for race day (or fancy a lie-in), you can still enjoy the excitement on TV.

The BBC will be broadcasting the whole thing, with live coverage on BBC One from 08:30 to 14:15, before moving to BBC Two from 14:15 until 15:00. If you miss it, you can watch highlights on BBC Two from 18:00-19:00 and online on BBC iPlayer.

Which celebrities are taking part?

(Calm/PA Wire)

There’s something ever so slightly satisfying about watching your favourite celebrity grinding it out for 26.2 miles, looking a little less polished than they do on Instagram.

The race always attracts big names, with this year’s stars including the comedian Romesh Ranganathan, who’s running for suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM); The Woman in the Wall actress Ruth Wilson MBE, who’s running for Alzheimer’s Research UK; and ex-Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston, who’s running to raise awareness for charity The Big Issue.

Special mention goes to Eastenders stars Emma Barton and Jamie Borthwick, who’ll be running as their characters, Honey and Jay, for a special episode of the soap. The storyline will follow the fictional pair as they run the marathon in memory of Jay’s wife, Lola, who died of a brain tumour in 2023. If you spot them, make sure you’re smiling: you could just make your debut as an extra in the background of the show.

Who are the other stars of the amateur race?

The first-ever rhino wheelchair costume charges through the streets of London (Anna Gordon for Save the Rhino)

Fancy dress is a quintessential part of the London marathon. Remember the guy who spent five days completing the course dressed in a deep sea diving suit?

Conservation charity Save the Rhino claim to have pioneered the whole thing, when a runner completed the race wearing a 12kg rhino costume in 1992, and this year it’s debuting a new first: the marathon’s first ever rhino wheelchair costume, which will be worn by member of Wales Rugby League wheelchair team, Martin Turner.

You might also spot Dave 'the Running Telephone', who’ll be running his 25th marathon in aid of this year’s race charity, Samaritans, dressed in a telephone costume.

This year’s oldest competitor is 91-year-old David Picksley from Croydon, who has run an impressive 13 marathons to date. He’ll be walking the 26.2 mile route to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK in memory of his sister, who he lost to the disease in 1974.

Where to go after

(Ashley Coates)

If you’ve got any energy left to celebrate after the finish line, fitness studio Barry’s Bootcamp will be hosting a marathon after-party at its SW1 studio. Think live music, refreshments, and free protein shakes for anyone who shows their medal. It's free to join, but you do need to sign up in advance.

They’re not the only ones handing out freebies for medal-holders. Greene King is offering a free drink of Guinness (or Guinness 0.0%), G&Ts and soft drinks to all finishers who show a medal at one of its London pubs between Sunday and Tuesday; Lush is offering medallists its all-new Cold Water Soother Epsom salt cube (worth £6) and Wiccy Magic Muscles solid massage oil (worth £8); and Franco Manca, Bills, Meatliquor and The Real Greek are among those handing out free food.

Recovery-wise, Fusion Lifestyle is offering all finishers a free swim at Brockwell Lido or North London Park Road Leisure, and online yoga site Live Yoga Teachers is offering free livestreamed recovery classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after the race. Just send in a picture of you at the finish line with your medal and they’ll send you a voucher.

Deliveroo and Boots have also teamed up to launch a ‘Marathon Roo-covery’ hub featuring everything from bath salts and Compeed blister plasters to protein bars. Just use the code ROOCOVERY10 for £10 off all Boots products on Deliveroo.

When does the ballot open for next year?

The London Marathon’s organisers want to move forward their net zero goal by 10 years (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

If you find yourself getting sucked in by the joy of the event (don’t say we didn’t warn you), there’s not long to wait until you can try your luck for a coveted place.

The London marathon 2025 is set to take place on Sunday, April 27, and the ballot opens this Saturday, April 20, the day before this year’s race. It’ll close on Friday, April 26, so you have just under a week to throw your name into the ring. Here’s to making it into that lucky four per cent.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.