Need VLM spectator help for newbie watchers please, special occassion.

Hi all, I'm doing the London marathon for charadeeee in a few weeks and for the
first time I have family coming to watch, this is rare as they work weekends but
have booked this off ages ago.

I want to make sure all goes well with them watching so they know exactly where to go etc. 2 of the party are elderly  but like a walk but Id like to keep it as little as possible.

Ideally they'd like to see me pass 3 times, I've stated tower bridge at mile 12 as a good one, maybe  the first as they are staying at a hotel near the London eye in the same
location. Then obviously near the end too maybe corner where Buckingham palace
is mile 26. But the 3rd spot not sure. Or perhaps mile 14 then they cross the road if they can (anyone know this) and see me at mile 22 or something then get to mile 25/6 quickly (best way taxi or tube? if tube which one) how long will tube take to get to near finish line mile 25 etc.

So what im trying to do is give them step by step instructions so they dont get lost and can get to each point easily, they can if need be jump in a taxi between spots as there will be 5 of
them. I'd prefer to avoid tubes etc as they will get confused I know.

Can any London dwellers help with suggestions thanks, see map below and also link to
interactive map. I'll probably be doing 11 minute miles and cross the start line
about 10.15am.

Its a special occasion with grandparents coming so just
want to make it a great day for them.




  • Tower bridge is heaving. They'd need to be there for hours to get a spot.

    I don't see how they could beat you from there to mile 14 and the roads are closed so taxi journeys will be very limited.

    Massively busy around the finish too. Basically I'd avoid anywhere that you've heard of - as everyone else has too.

    I always think the earlier miles are easier to watch. There's a long road at mile 10 that is fairly quiet. No idea how you'd get them there though.
  • It's really hard to move around London on marathon day, especially getting anywhere near the finish.

    Some tube stations near the route are actually CLOSED on race day, as they get too crowded, so you have to walk to ones that are further away.

    There are queues to get into those that are open, as they control the numbers of people in the station for safety.

    It took me longer to get from mile 21 to the finish than for my OH to run it.  He was finished, changed and waiting for ME.

    Personally, even though I know my way round the system, I don't like coming into London to spectate.  It's just too crowded it's horrible, and it takes so long to get anywhere.

  • Tracey GTracey G ✭✭✭
    They could go to somewhere in Docklands, then get the train to Limehouse and see you go down the High Way towards Tower then hop on a train to the finish.

    Last year we got DLR to Cutty Sark at just before mile 7. Then instead of getting on the nearest DLR station we walk to Depford Bridge as to avoid the hour wait to get on the nearest station. We then got train to Canary Wharf and then Limehouse. Hubby and son went home and I then walked to Mile 22 to see my club mates.

    Train well be packed like tin of sardines image

    This year I'm not supporting but volunteering on reclaim baggage image

    Good luck
  • Tracey GTracey G ✭✭✭
    Avoid Greenwich, West Ferry and Cutty Sark you can only get off at until very late.
  • The best idea is to stay close to tube stations and the quieter parts of the course.

    The area around Canary Wharf (Canary Wharf, Mudchute, Westferry stations) is busier than it used to be but is still fairly comfortable for spectating.

    The meet and greet area at the end will be a scrum so be prepared for that.

    The bottom line is that it's tough getting around for even fit, healthy intrepid people with tons of patience so it's going to be tough on anyone elderly, especially if it's hot, cold or very wet. If you want to be fair on them it's best to keep them away from the very busy areas, even if it means seeing less of you. 

  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭

    Ahem... dont tell anyone, but my usual route is this:

    start (I volunteer)

    walk to lewisham
    train to charing cross
    walk down whitehall to Westminster (mile 25 ish)

    I usually get there to see the elite men come in if I leave at 10, but the race is slightly different start time wise this year so bear that in mind.

    Now it would be possible to add in a short detour to mile 24 ish by getting off at charing cross and walking back to embankment down villiers street and then up whitehall place bck to whitehall. Embankment is busy. Whitehall is usually not too bad, they would need to go right to the end to see you but its pretty good views normally.

    Also they can then wait around for you as you come out of the finish area in Horse Guards Parade, up the steps past the Foreign office on King Charles Street image

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    My family always stand between mile 13-14 then go through the underpass to 22 miles.  They always get good spots and at all of my 7 Londons I have seen them at both places every time. 

  • That's what I've done a few times, but getting from 21/22 to the finish is a real pain and takes longer than running it!

    I've walked from there to Tower Hill, queued to get on the underground to Embankment, then met my OH (finished and changed and there boefore me) in Trafalgar Square.

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Ah but that's where I score Wilkie!  I get a good couple of hours in the pub before they find me! image

  • ok so miles 13-14 then 22 sounds ideal, what underpass please? Also could they not walk a few blocks away from course and get a taxi to finish?

  • What areas is the 13-14 mile area near underpass you speak of please so I can google  map it and see where they can  stand and then get to underpass you speak of.

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭
    Mark, I've never done it since I'm always running but my family use the Shadwell station and the underpass must be almost in a direct line from there (Mr Minni doesn't believe in walking a step further than he has to!). So they stand at about 13.5m, then back to 22 on the other side. Not sure about the Taxi situation but bear in mind there are thousands of people all with the same plan.

    Your family will love it. My daughter is missing it this year as it would mean two days off school and she's just about to sit her AS levels, and she's gutted.
  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    why do you want them at the finish...its bedlem there. get them to spectate away from the finish and you come to them to find after the race.

    docklands was a decent spectating place in previous yrs

  • if you want them at the finish.then get them to go straight there early and watch all the finishers until you arrive.......getting around is a nightmare.especially if you are not familiar with it all

  • Check out the Thames Clipper boat service for travel around on the day. It's ideal for transporting elderly relatives as it won't be affected by the road closures, it has step free access on and off the boats and you can get a cup of tea on board. It's a bit more expensive than the Tube, but you can pay with an Oyster card.
  • Just looking at that now, we are staying near London eye so they could get a boat from there to nearest point to mile  13.5 then cross over to mile 22, its just that last part getting back to finish, its really important they get to finish before me to see me pass, anywhere from mile  25 to 26.2.

  • ok in theory they could get boat from London eye to tower bridge, walk a bit to mile 13.5 see me pass then go underpass to see me mile 22 then get boat back to London eye and walk to mall finish area to see me pass.

  • JoolskaJoolska ✭✭✭

    Theoretically, it's a 20 minute journey on public transport from Limehouse (the DLR and rail stations are near the 13.5/22M points) to Westminster (which is one of the nearest stations to the finish).  The problem is that it's not clear from the TFL website ( which tube stations will be entry/exit only and no-one can predict how long the queues will be!  I would echo the comments about the finish being difficult to navigate on race day and so although they have about 45/50 minutes after you pass them at mile 22 to get to the finish, which should be enough, in reality it almost certainly won't be.  It might be best to have your supporters in 2 groups: one group can do the mile 13.5/mile 22 point and one can be at the finish to be sure they see you.

  • Mark, if the most important thing is seeing you near the finish then I'd ditch waiting for you at 22 miles.  Unless you're walking from there they won't have much time to get there and find a spectator spot before you go past.

    I know you wanted to avoid the tube, but if they're staying near London Eye they could stick to the jubilee line: waterloo to canada water (9 miles), on to canary wharf (19), back to westminster (25).  That's what my family have done for the last few years, anyway.

  • Just trying to find the underpass on google maps with no luck. If I print it off they can take it and know what it looks like you see.

  • ok I think its best they see me mile 13.5 or so then get boat back to London eye which is the hotel and they walk over Westminster bridge to finish section to see me finish, that way they aren't rushing if they wait at mile 22 for me, this gives them plenty of time to ponder around, get a spot etc and stop for coffee and see all runners finishing too.


    So they don't wait an hour or so at mile 22 for me, they can see me at finish last mile or so and have plenty of time to get a spot.

  • Hi cheerful dave tried to send you pm but wouldn't let me?



  • Go to Shadwell - usually relatively quiet spectator-wise, and you see people around mile 13-14, just after they come over Tower Bridge, and then they come back past about mile 21-22 or so on the other side of the road. So you get to see them twice without having to move. Easy.

  • how do you know if you are watching newbies?

  • PM is enabled Mark, maybe RW is having one of its moments.  Try again?

  • ok sent thanks.

  • For some reason RW won't let me reply to your PM, but anyway...

    Yes, they've done something like that for just about 10 years now - at least once with kids in buggies.  We live in Surrey so they get the train to Waterloo, then jubilee line from there.  As long as as you stay within easy access of the tube station it's fairly straightforward (although the first year they ended up on the wrong side of the course at Canada Water and had a long walk round to the station).  It's just jubilee line every trip.  Yes, I'm running again this year.

    The only thing I would point out is that my wife always says that when she's going back to the station at Canary Wharf there are always a lot more people arriving at the station than leaving - I'm running around 2:40 pace so I guess she's ahead of the worst of the crowds and it may be more crowded later on.  My mum usually comes to watch as well but just finds a spot for herself just after big ben - she gets to watch the elite runners and has a good time doing that rather than catching trains all the time.

    They'll have fun whatever they do - even in the unlikely event that they miss you completely and only catch up with you in horseguards they'll have some tales to tell.

  • Mark 

    It may be too late - but if you are a charity runner they may have some VIP tickets to the fininsh grandstands. (I had a frail relative attending one year & they sat in the stands and watched the finnishers until I went past.) 

    Otherwise the Jubilee line: Canada Water, Canary Wharf, Westminster is probably the easiest, but there will be crowds. . . 


  • Brilliant thanks.  Stupid question time, can you get weekend tube pass, I need zone 1 and 2 only yes? And if they only do day passes can you buy sundays on the Saturday in advance to save time. Someone mentioned this below, any ideas what he's on about?

    "Depending on what entrance you go in at Waterloo depends how far you have to
    walk for the Jubilee! Canary Wharf has 2 exits,make sure you go out of the right one. "



  • There is no such thing as a stupid question! 


    a one day off peak zone 1&2 - that is all you need - costs £7.30 

    anytime sat or sun is off peak and you should be able to buy from any tube station on sat for sun.  

    single cash tickets are ridiculously expensive - to encourage you not to use them. If you are being tourists on sat & mon you should consider buying an oystercard, you can sell it back before you go. 

    Walking underground between lines, which also means from entrances to lines, can be a pain. Much more pleasant to walk overground - the best waterloo entrance for the jubilee line is on Waterloo road - opposite The Wellington ph.,-0.111473&spn=0.004321,0.009581&t=m&z=17


    Canary wharf has two exits - one which tends to be busy and one which is quieter. I would advise the quieter one as the queues are likely to be less. Essentially you should leave the station in the direction the train has travelled into it. This is not difficult as the station layout is very linear. You will then be on the marathon course in as quiet a spot as as you can find as soon as you leave the station. 


    If you are in waterloo and fancy a celebratory ruby after the race try the Bangalore Brasserie on Waterloo Road.



Sign In or Register to comment.