london marathon

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The Independent Culture
Since Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen crossed the line hand in hand in 1981, the London Marathon has grown from 7,747 entrants to this year's 36,500. And a fine spectacle it makes. It kicks off in Blackheath and Greenwich (with three starts according to ability and Damon Hill waving the flag for the off), ambles past the Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge and back into the East End, explores the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf (Independent staff in early enough will have a grandstand view from the 18th floor), then goes back along the Thames to The Mall. Liz McColgan, third in 1993, is back to take on the Australian, Lisa Ondieki, twice runner-up, and Katrin Dorre, the German who's won the event for the last three years. The men's reigning champion, Mexico's Dionicio Ceron, is also back to defend his title against the likes of Eamonn Martin (above). Wherever you fancy watching it from, get there early.

London Marathon, starting Greenwich/ Blackheath (elite women 9am, wheelchair race 9.25am, elite men and mass start 9.30am), finishing The Mall, from around 11am