The first ever London Marathon as we know it today took place in 1981 and was inspired by former British Olympic champion Chris Brasher who competed in the New York City Marathon in 1979 and afterwards wrote an article for The Observer where he asked “whether London could stage such a festival? We have the course, a magnificent course … but do we have the heart and hospitality to welcome the world?”
Chris then met with the relevant authorities and two years later, on 29 March 1981, the annual London Marathon was born with thousands of people running through the usually quiet Sunday streets.
From the 20,000 people who wanted to run, 7,747 were accepted and 6,255 finished. It was a huge success, and the following year over 90,000 applied to run (there were 18,000 places).
BBC’s article of 29 March 1981, entitled Triumph at first London Marathon, reported on the event.
A photo gallery of the first-ever London Marathon is available here.
History will be made at this year’s London Marathon, on 24 April, as one runner will cross the world-famous finish line in The Mall to become the millionth finisher in the history of the event. To mark this huge milestone, the organisers have created the #oneinamillion campaign, which celebrates every runner who has ever successfully completed the 26.2 mile challenge since the first race back in 1981. Read more at Virgin Media.
The first half of the route runs just south of the Thames through Greenwich and Blackheath. After crossing the river on Tower Bridge, runners pass some of the capital’s famous landmarks, including the Coca Cola London Eye and the Tower of London, before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. With such vast and impressive scenery, it’s no wonder the organisers have dubbed it a “historical jog around London”.(Visit London)
You may also find the following articles interesting:
- London Marathon: 26 facts and records from the capital’s big race
- 10 things no one tells you before you run the London Marathon