Virgin London Marathon 2010: New Route?

Hi all

Sir Richard Branson has revealed in today’s Evening Standard that he believes the route of the Virgin London Marathon could be revised to showcase more of the capital.

And now Dave Bedford, Race Director of the Virgin London Marathon wants to hear the views of the runnersworld.co.uk community too.

“We know that Richard and Virgin are really excited about sponsoring the London Marathon – and we are looking forward to working with them, they have some great ideas.

The current London Marathon course has developed since the first race in 1981 and now passes most of the iconic London sites: Starting at Greenwich and Blackheath, the Meridian Line, the Cutty Sark, City Hall, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Canary Wharf, Cleopatra’s Needle, The London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and finishing in The Mall.

We continually look at ways that we can make the Course more attractive to the 500,000 spectators and millions of viewers on BBC and around the World and work closely with the London Boroughs and the Cities of Westminster and London whilst being aware of the safety of runners and spectators and the impact the event has on the rest of London.

We would welcome any suggestions from the public that may enhance what is already viewed by many as the greatest Marathon Course in the World.”

What are your thoughts? Would you change the London Marathon course? Or do you like it just the way it is?

Please pop your suggestions right here on this thread - look forward to hearing all your ideas,

Thanks

Catherine

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Comments

  • Is it me or is Mr Branson taking charge of the marathon, not Mr Bedford. I think the route is good enough. What buzzes me is why the flipping spectators and the lazy ones watching on the telly. What about us who are running it. How about starting the race back to front. From the Mall to Greenwich. Or how about make a detour to the Olympic Stadium, do one lap and then back onto the same course.

  • Ooh, this interesting.  Right, two things for starters - keep it flat and keep the start on Blackheath/Greenwich Park.  I've got used to the 5 mins warm-up from my front door.

    Now let me get my thinking cap on regarding any parts of London which might be more scenic than Surrey Quays and I'll get back to you.  image

  • OK, I've already thought about it! I really don't think you should mess around with the start and finish.  Greenwich/Blackheath have become synonymous with the race and are perfectly suited to the race start logistics.  And my upstairs neighbours would get extremely upset if they can't stage their annual marathon breakfast party.  Sue makes an excellent kedgeree.

    I'd also be inclined to keep the river crossing point at Tower Bridge - another iconic image of the race.  So maybe you can tinker with the route in parts of Surrey Quays before TB, and cut out some of the Docklands.  I guess you want to keep Canary Wharf in there, but maybe make it less twisty??  Then you'll have a few spare miles to play with when the race comes back along the Embankment - have Big Ben at about 22m and make better use of the Royal Parks.  The whole of the West End is pretty flat, the whole of Westminster Council's road network is b*ggered up for the day anyway, so have the route before Pall Mall finish using more of St James Park and Hyde Park, or maybe Oxford Street/Regent Street?  Westminster Council have already happily pedestrianised Oxford Street on the odd occasion, no problem.

    There you go, new route sorted.

  • ...oh, or a right turn somewhere around Blackfriars underpass to take in St Paul's.  Best building in London. Not the world though, that's St Basil's in Moscow.
  • Has Sir Richard indicated if he plans to run next year? I imagined he might be up for it but then he is getting on a bit.
  • NorwichRunner wrote (see)
    Has Sir Richard indicated if he plans to run next year? I imagined he might be up for it but then he is getting on a bit.
    If he is running, its definitely a guaranteed place - for five years. I wonder if he come flying in on a Virgin plane then onto a Virgin train and the arrive at the start in a Virgin hot air balloon.
  • your Virgin on the rediculous now runnerman

  • Well, I am perfectly happy with it as it is.

    If they try to send us up to Oxford st or something then there will be more climbing which will slow everyone down, including the elites, and that will have an effect on the standing of the race internationally.

    I agree that the start is good. And we don't want to turn the race in to a series of tourism clichés.
  • Totally different.....but the Moonwalk this year took in a whole lot more of "  Central London" Starting in hyde park...and finishing there too......but

    a) could it cope with the huge numbers of runners and staff,

    b) if the route good for running....one thing a few great ladies walking...not 35000 runners

    c) do we really want to change it? 

  • Biggest change i would make is missing out Poplar high street (thinks it's about the 20 mile mark), getting there about three hours in and being greeted by East London's finest drunks throwing pints of piss at me spoiled it for me two years ago (ok it's only happend once but once is enough), i like the idea of detouring through the olympic stadium, maybe cut out the couple of miles through the isle of dogs to get to stratford instead.


  • One of the good things about the route is that it actually doesn't change, giving you a chance to improve over the course thru a few years.

    I get the impression from the newspaper article that RB might feel he now owns the marathon rather than being its sponsor.
  • I see why he's tinkering with it though. I've oft heard it said that large sections of the course are "boring" and not really what people expect when they come to do a marathon in London. I've always believed they must mean the winding bit around the Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf excepted - maybe people like that)

    FF's idea of taking in the Olympic area is appealing....image

    But then, if it were down to me, I'd run straight through Liz's back garden and mess up her lovely manicured lawn.image

    *throws away imaginary garden party invite*image

  • London marathon is a great course as it is.  I have run it ten times now and the support along the route is fantastic, even on the Isle of Dogs. 

    Perhaps if changes are planned it could be open to debate amongst runners?  

  • I know this is a sort of a debate but if a new route was planned it could be made public to be considered by runners?
  • If it's not broken...why fix it?
  • I like it as it is.  Even though the Docklands area is not much fun it is an iconic race as it stands - Don't mess with it!
  • I would say that if Virgin are putting up £XXXXXX in sponsorship, they SHOULD have a say in how/where it's run?

    You can't expect someone like Richard Branson to stump up a huge wad of cash and then not stick his oar in.

    The spectators are part of what make the race so 'special' - according to most people who run it, runnerman.  Having spectated several times, I can say that it's a pain getting to, from, and around the route.  Anything that would make that easier would be welcome, otherwise I may give up going to watch. 

    As for asking the runners, NR - you ask 100 runners, you'd get 100 different opinions.  The London Marathon organisers have never taken much notice of what the runners think!

  • Wilkie wrote (see)

    You can't expect someone like Richard Branson to stump up a huge wad of cash and then not stick his oar in.

    I bet that's PRECISELY what they wanted Wilkie! (But they're not going to get it with our Dickie, are they?)image
  • Also, let's not forget that this event isn't really about runners - except the elites, who give it kudos.

    This event is about raising money.  David Bedford et al are not really concerned about what your average club runner wants or thinks, only about how to maximise the income. 

    Your average club runner doesn't raise money for charity (although some choose to), and contributes only their entry fee (which is really quite a modest fee). 

    FLM was billed as the biggest fundraising event in the world, so we know where their priorities lay.  They'd rather have someone in a costume shaking a collecting tin than a 3- or 4-hour club runner - it's more camera-friendly.

    I doubt that'll change with Mr Branson.

  • But to stop carping, and get back to the point.....

    I doubt I'll ever run it again, but from a spectator point of view getting away from your spectating point when you want to leave is a nightmare.  We usually watch from a point around 13 miles and 21/22, where you see the runners going both ways (and you can cross the road using an underpass).

    This isn't helped by  tube stations nearest the course being closed on the day.  This makes getting into the ones that ARE open even harder.  Some attention to public transport for spectators would be useful, wherever the course ends up going.

  • I would change it, but only in parts.

    Having run marathons in other large cities around Europe, I do think that London could do with its assets. I like a route that is interesting.  I wouldn't call sections of the London Marathon interesting, specifically around the Docklands.

     I'd support the suggestions from PhilPub - keep the start at Greenwich (masses of room for people and baggage trucks etc.) and the finish on the Mall, with its iconic last wave at Buck Palace as you go past and which has plenty of space around the area to meet up with friends and family, plus choice of transport links to depart from. Definately cross over at Tower Bridge but cut out the Isle of Dogs section which is hardly picturesque and doesn't get that many supporters. And is there scope to avoid the cobbles at the Tower which are a horror on the ankles. Instead have a twirl around St Pauls, back to the Embankment, do a loop around the Hyde Park or the like. 

     Think of some of the other large races in London - the London 10k (which goes out from Trafalgar Square to St Pauls and back) or the new Royal Parks Half Marathon (which starts and finishes in Hyde Park but goes out towards Blackfriars).  Just don't do something daft like getting everyone to run across Westminster Bridge and then do a 180 degree turn to run back again.  That is a nightmare course!

    I agree that they shouldn't turn it into a tourist sites visit but they could definately do more with what we have.

    If they do change the route then they have to consider the practicality of the route - keep it flat, not too many sharp corners please, plenty of width on the road especially at the start, and room enough for supporters to stand alongside the route, plus space for bands to keep us all going....

  • And one more comment...

    whilst it is brilliant to have large crowds cheering runners along, if you don't have a fan club dotted along the route it can be a little depressing and it is nice to have other things to look at such as picturesque or iconic buildings, sites, etc.....

  • I loved London

    I LOVED IT and may be it doesnt only go through all the best places in London but it shows London's spirit and East London is part of London'd culture as well, isnt it? If you start making the route to wiggly just to make it pretty then you will ruin the excellent coursefor people like me that likes braking pbs and running fast. The atmosphere is FANTASTIC.

    I just like it as it is!

  • Leave it as it is. It works
  •    

       Leave it as it is. It works

  • Wilkie wrote (see)

    This event is about raising money.  David Bedford et al are not really concerned about what your average club runner wants or thinks, only about how to maximise the income. 

    Your average club runner doesn't raise money for charity (although some choose to), and contributes only their entry fee (which is really quite a modest fee).  FLM was billed as the biggest fundraising event in the world, so we know where their priorities lay.  They'd rather have someone in a costume shaking a collecting tin than a 3- or 4-hour club runner - it's more camera-friendly.

    Very harsh indeed. London has always offered a number of places to clubs and loads of club runners also get in through the Good for Age system. They do a great job accomodating everyone - elites, club runners and charity runners. The modest entry fee is testament to the fact this isn't just about making money. Compare this to a Great Run event?!?!

    Anyway, the route is pretty good as it is but I suppose it could be improved. As a runner though I wouldn't appreciate any extra hills or twists and turns just to run past a building I'll probably be too tired to notice. The early part of the route has no tourist attractions but the atmosphere generated by the people in these communities is great so it would be a shame to lose this. Most runners would agree the Isle of Dogs is not the most inspiring section so would probably be the bit they could lose to accomodate a more appealing part of London.

  • I was delighted to see that Richard Branson et al were considering changing the route.  Having run the Royal Parks half and London Marathon this year I felt that the Royal Parks was more interesting re London sights.  Agree totally with Ceirios and Tino the Isle of Dogs bit is totally dull.  Also agree we dont want a wiggly all over the place route.  Need something on the flat which takes in more sights - the race is all about London its not the Isle of Dogs Marathon.  Greenwich is an okayish place to start as loads of room need to study a map and think about an alternative route but I am sure that they could come up with something a bit better!!

    Spectators are something that definitely needs to be taken into consideration.  Having run Paris Marathon as well this year Paris was slightly disappointing on the spectator front they were spaced out and you didnt get that total roar of encouragement that you get at the London Marathon.  However there are draw backs having so many spectators - in Paris you could overtake slower runners on the pavement if necessary. In London the congestion due to sheer numbers of spectators spilling onto the road was ridiculous in some places no way could you contemplate overtaking people.  More thought needs to be put into the positioning of the crowds density yes but not to the point that the runners are affected.

  • Leave it alone! I love the London Marathon (I've completed 7 times) and I'd hate to see the route change - its just so well organied, and so well supported, why change something that works so well?
  • I like the sound of a revised route. Take out Woolwich, Surrey Quays and Isle of Dogs and extend along the embankment (possibly crossing to South bank) and round Hyde Park, finishing down Constitution Hill and onto the Mall.
  • Yes, change it. The route does not take in enough of the sites of London. Comapare with Rome where the marathon is almost a tourist guide, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Circus Maximus etc. Why not include Trafalgar Square, St Pauls, Picadily, Hyde Park? Why not cross more bridges.

     And let's make it a runners race, not a charity fun run. What's the point of fancy dress in a sport.

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