London Marathon History

In 1979, after running the New York City Marathon with John Disley, the late Chris Brasher questioned whether London could stage such a festival. “We have the course . . . but do we have the heart and hospitality to welcome the world?” Later that year Brasher travelled to America, where the running boom of the late 1970s had started. He witnessed the Boston Marathon and revisited the New York City race. He studied both races’ organisations and finances. On his return, Brasher and Disley secured a three-year contract with Gillette for £75,000, established the organisation’s charitable status, and set down six main aims for the event.

The first London Marathon was held on 29 March 1981. More than 20,000 people wanted to run; 7,747 were accepted. There were 6,255 finishers led home by American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen. Joyce Smith broke the British record to win the women’s race. The 1982 race received more than 90,000 applicants from around the world. The entry was limited to 18,059. Since then, the London Marathon has grown to more than 35,000 starters and finishers, is viewed in more than 150 countries worldwide and has more than six million viewers in the UK via the BBC.

  • Inaugural Running: 1981
  • Largest Field: 36,550 finishers (2010)
  • Recent Participation: Year Finishers (Male/Female)
  • 2011 34,705 (22,443 / 12,262)
  • 2010 36,550 (24,423 / 12,127)
  • 2009 35,375 (24,299 / 11,076)
  • 2008 34,497 (23,606 / 10,891)
  • 2007 35,694 (24,822 / 10,872)
  • 2011 Performances Time Total Men Women
  • sub-3:00:00 2,302 2,082 220
  • sub-4:00:00 12,583 9,849 2,734
  • Estimated Number of Spectators: 1 million
  • Course Records: Men: 2:04:40 (Emmanuel Mutai, KEN, 2011)
  • Women Only: 2:17:42 (Paula Radcliffe, GBR, 2005)
  • Women (Mixed Race): 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe, GBR, 2003)
  • Most Victories: Men: 3 (Dionicio Ceron, MEX; Antonio Pinto, POR; Martin Lel, KEN)
  • Women: 4 (Ingrid Kristiansen, NOR)
  • Prize Purse: $313,000 ($55,000 to male/female champions)

Upcoming Race Dates: 22 April 2012
21 April 2013


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