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The London Marathon

16.04.2012

Here's a brief history of the London Marathon and some facts about the people who take on the challenge.

The London Marathon is the UK's biggest running event and has raised around £500 million in its 31-year history. Approximately 26 miles and 385 yards, the race is set in a flat area of London, around the river Thames with the finishing line reaching Westminster Bridge. 

The first ever London Marathon was led by journalist Chris Brasher and Welsh athlete John Disley. Soon after, thousands of people signed up to take part in what has become one of the world's most famous running events. People take part for many reasons, and the event itself helps boost London's tourism, raise money for charity and encourage recreational activities in the capital city. Charities like Children 1st, Bowel Cancer UK, Amnesty International are among the hundreds of causes that inspire runners to complete the 26-mile trek.

Many have chosen to complete the marathon despite challenging conditions. The first wheelchair marathon was help in 1983 and in 2003 former boxer Michael Watson completed the course in six days, despite an accident in which he was told by doctors that he would never walk again. In 2002, leukaemia sufferer Lloyd Scott completed the marathon in a 50kg deep sea diving suit, raising money for child sufferers and also breaking the world record for the slowest ever participant.

Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen were the first people ever to complete the race, famously crossing the finish line hand-in-hand in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 48 seconds. Tens of thousands have completed the race since then, many training for extensive periods of time in the hope of reaching their end target.

But despite the media coverage and success of most previous London Marathons, it's interesting to know that according to recent reward surveys, 72% of UK respondents have never participated in any type of running activity. The survey conducted also revealed that 15% of people state the reason for running the London Marathon was to feel a sense of achievement.

For those who do sign-up for this long-haul race, it often involves a rigorous training regimen. Doctors suggest that first time runners train a little each day to prepare them for the big race and also recommend that runners wear the right shoes for the event. Many sports clothing stores have running facilities which test individuals' running technique and fit running shoes accordingly.

In 2012, over 35,000 entrants are expected to run in the renowned London Marathon. However, for those who decide to sit-out the event, they can still watch the spectacle live on TV.