London Marathon 2016: What time it starts, where to watch, what the weather forecast is and the best pubs along the route

 
Catherine Neilan
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Marathon
London Marathon: Runners zoom past Big Ben (Source: Getty)

Carb-loading, hamstring-stretching and thanking your lucky stars that you can actually have a lie in from next weekend onwards? Welcome to the London Marathon....

This weekend the capital will be over-taken by more than 35,000 runners (and more than a few walkers) looking to finish the 26.2m course. If you haven't been sleeping, eating and dreaming the Big One - in other words, if you're a spectator - here's everything you need to know.


When is it?

The London Marathon 2016 takes place on 24 April (Sunday). The first race to set off will be the elite wheelchair race at 8:55am. Then the IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulant athletes) starts at 9am.

Elite women will begin at 9:15m, while elite men will start at 10am, along with the mass start.


Trust me, it'll be busy (Source: Getty)

The weather

With six days to go, the weather forecast is likely to change but as things stand it's looking like good running (and spectating) weather - that is until 4pm.

For the 10am start, the Met Office is forecasting cool temperatures of around 6*C, heating up to around 9*C by 1pm, when the bulk of runners are likely to be crossing the finish line.

If you are still running (or waiting for your runner) at 4pm it looks as though things will start getting stormy. Good incentive to get those legs going.

The route

The London Marathon is 26.2 miles of tourist heaven (plus some other places).

Things will start slow, although the kick off - at Blackheath - is always pretty busy. Runners will snake out around Charlton before passing the Cutty Sark and heading back towards Bermondsey.

The athletes cross Tower Bridge shortly before the half-way point and then head out towards the Docklands, and Canary Wharf and One Canada Square. Runners back on themselves to go past Tower Bridge and the Tower of London at mile 22.

Then runners head along the riverside, past the City, down the Blackfriars underpass and along the Victoria Embankment towards the Houses of Parliament for another three miles.

At mile 26 the runners will reach Birdcage Walk – Buckingham Palace will come into view, as will the finish line. Runners just have to get to the other end of The Mall and the endurance race is over.


But so worthwhile (Source: Getty)

Where is the best place to watch?

If you want to see the runners looking more spritely than sweaty, you should plump for a viewing spot in the first six miles. These are likely to be less busy than some of the points towards the end of the route so you should get a good position.

TfL is advising non-runners not to travel to the start line but there are plenty of other places along the first third of the race you can head to instead.

Mile six/seven (Trafalfar Road/Creek Road) will include views of the Cutty Sark, while crowds are generally quite thin at mile nine (Docklands).

Tower Bridge, where the race passes twice, is easily one of the busiest parts of the route – but also one of the most atmospheric – and you have two chances to see your friends/family/celebrity runners go past. There are also plenty of good pubs nearby.


All along Victoria Embankment is also fun to view – being near to the river there are naturally plenty of pubs and other sights to keep you occupied after you've waved on your 34,999th runner.

But of course if you want to spur people on to keep going at the finish line, you need to get to the Mall (just get there early, because you won't be the only one).

Here's how to get around the capital during the marathon.

Where are the best pubs on the route?

Blackheath

If you're hanging around after the start and in need of refreshment after that burst of energy, there's The Royal Standard, where you can enjoy a pint of London Pale Ale in the beer garden. Nearby British Oak is also popular, offering real ale and Sunday roasts.

Or there's The Princess of Wales, which also offers real ale, speciality beers and ciders as well as Sunday roasts.

Rotherhithe/Bermondsey

If you're heading towards the Cutty Sark, there's the nearby Admiral Hardy or the Greenwich Tavern slightly back towards the park. There is also the Mitre Hotel, which boasts a “rousing” Bloody Mary among its drinks line up as well as good food.

Tower Bridge

You might find the pubs at this section too busy to even make it to the bar, but why let that stop you trying.

There's the Draft House on the run up to the bridge, which serves good beer and burgers, or the Perkin Reveller on the other side of the river. Butlers Wharf on Tower Hill boasts views of the runners as they pass over the bridge, and offers craft beers for those who find just watching thirsty work.

Away from the route there is Turner's Old Star – which was once actually owned by the artist – and the 16th century riverside pub the Prospect of Whitby.


If you're going to watch, Tower Bridge is probably the buzziest part of the route (Source: Getty)

Canary Wharf

Heading towards Canary Wharf is Thameside gastropub The Narrow (Limehouse) and 16th century pub The Grapes, while there is the Cat and Canary by Poplar.

If all that running is making you hungry you could try Boisdale of Canary Wharf or the Parlour, which has an al fresco terrace from which you can see the swarm getting through the earlier stages of the race.

Heading back towards central London the route will go past Wapping, where the Town of Ramsgate could be a good riverside option.

Victoria Embankment

There are plenty of pubs along the final few miles along the river or just set back, including The Blackfriar, The Banker, The Old Bell, Ye Old Cock Tavern, The Lyceum, and of course Gordon's Wine Bar.

Buckingham Arms, just off St James' Park, is also on the route as runners near the final furlong.

The Finish Line

After the race has finished, and you've cheered yourself hoarse, you'll no doubt want to wet your whistle. If your runner can manage a little further, The Phoenix offers a seasonal menu to refuel and a celebratory glass of champagne. Meanwhile there is Grade II listed pub St Stephens on Parliament Square or the Bag O'Nails close to the finish line.

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