London Marathon history and facts – what’s the fastest time, when did it start, how far is the route and what’s the prize money?


GOING strong since 1981, the London Marathon is one of the top distance running events of the year – for pros and amateurs alike.

Here’s The Sun’s potted history of the big run through the capital, which takes place TODAY, Sunday, April 28.

The runners double back over Tower Bridge on their way to the Embankment
PA:Press Association

When did the London Marathon start?

The race was founded by former Olympic champion and journalist Chris Brasher and fellow athlete John Disley.

Shortly after running the New York City Marathon in 1979 Brasher wrote an article calling for London to emulate the Big Apple.

The following year Brasher and Disley made trips to America to study the organisation and finance of big city marathons.

Brasher signed a contract with Gillette for £50,000 and then on March 29, 1981, the first London Marathon was held.

More than 20,000 applied to run, 6,747 were accepted and 6,255 crossed the finish line of the race which was broadcast live on the BBC.

Eliud Kipchoge holds the men's record for the course
Eliud Kipchoge holds the men’s record for the course
AFP or licensors

What is the fastest time?

In 2016 the fastest time ever recorded at the London Marathon was set by Eliud Kipchoge.

The Kenyan completed the course in a track record time of 2:03:05.

Kipchoge holds the world record for the event of 2:01:39 which he ran in Berlin in 2018.

Paula Radcliffe holds the women’s record which has stood for 15 years.

The time set by the Brit in 2003 of 2:15:25  is still the women’s world record time for a marathon in a mixed race.

Mary Keitany also holds the world record set in the London Marathon in 2017.

It’s recognised as a world record run a women’s only race at a time of 2:17:01.

Paula Radcliffe set the current world women's world record on the course in 2003
Getty Images – Getty

Paula Radcliffe set the current world women’s world record on the course in 2003[/caption]

How far is the route?

Some 42,000 runners will run this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

Each year the course starts in East London around Blackheath and Greenwich Park.

Start times are staggered to avoid complete chaos for both contestants and officials.

Runners will see sights including the Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace on their 26.2 mile run.

As always, it will finish on The Mall.

It was a scorcher in 2018 as it became the hottest race ever, but temperatures in 2019 are set to be more favourable for the runners.

What is the prize money?

The winners of the men and women’s elites will both pick up £39,000 for crossing the line first.

Second place in each receives £22,000, third gets £16,000 and fourth £10,500.

Overall, there is £121,000 on offer for the elite runners.

A further “£70,000 will be divided up between any runner who runs a sub-2:05:00 time in the men’s, and to any runner who bests 2:18:00 in the women’s race.

A further £17,600 is awarded to anyone who wins the race in a record time.

And a total of £17,600 is awarded to first prize winners of the wheelchair races.

There is also now £100,260 on offer to placing wheelchair competitors overall.


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