Once again, The Virgin Money London Marathon returns to test the mettle of runners from around the world. This year is particularly significant as it also marks the one millionth person to complete this gruelling race, first held 35 years ago. Always keen on any event which promotes London as a cultural capital, we’ll certainly be taking to social media to support and encourage participants. Turning attention to our membership, we’ve also come up with some routes of our own (which can be enjoyed at any time of the year) taking some of the amazing spaces in Unique Venues of London into account.
The Imperial War Museum, with its imposing twin artillery guns, provides the backdrop to the start of this route. Continuing through Elephant & Castle and through Bricklayers Arms, runners will be rewarded with the majestic site of Tower Bridge. Turning left onto the hustle and bustle of South Bank the proud hull of HMS Belfast can be seen bobbing in the Thames. Passing London Bridge you cannot miss contemporary masterpiece Tate Modern in contrast to the medieval simplicity of Shakespeare’s Globe. The cultural trail continues as the stylish glass curves of BFI IMAX gleam in the sunlight, closely followed by the stark brutalism of Denys Lasden’s National Theatre and The Royal Festival Hall. The route culminates with one of the capital’s most-renowned modern landmarks, The London Eye.
This arduous run starts with one of London’s most stunning views. The Royal Observatory Greenwich, with its leafy surroundings provide a bucolic starting line, from which to make a descent past the picturesque Old Royal Naval College, designed by Christopher Wren, and take in the nearby juxtaposition of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron’s award-winning Laban Building. The towering masts of Victoria tea clipper Cutty Sark offer another historic treat for more observant runners as it sits, moored permanently, on the bankside to be enjoyed by the public. The A200 offers a challenging stretch which will load on the lactic acid, but a cheeky detour into Shad Thames takes runners past the Design Museum before reaching the finishing post at Tower Bridge.
Capability Brown’s sophisticated ground-designs at Syon Park provides a breathtaking backdrop to the start of this route. This gallop through the green spaces of West London takes runners to Kew Bridge and the charming London Museum of Water and Steam. Runners will then skirt around the world-famous Kew Gardens with its monumental glasshouses and the Georgian splendour of Kew Palace, a favourite retreat of George III. Dipping down into Richmond and onto the Thames path, the finishing post can be found at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, one of the capital’s best bird-watching sites.
This route encourages runners to take a walk (or rather run) on the wild side. Kicking-off at ZSL London Zoo, it marks the start of Parks & Palaces, which takes the participant through the heart of the capital past some of London’s best-loved landmarks. Casting a glance westwards to Lord’s Cricket Ground and a wave to the waxworks of Madame Tussauds on Baker Street, the runner descends down through Lancaster Gate and into Kensington Gardens, flanked on either side by The Serpentine Gallery and Kensington Palace with the elegant Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Albert Hall’s grand rotunda dominating the distance. A quick sprint through Queensgate and the triumph of The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and The V&A are to be beheld. Following a traverse of the Fulham, Old Brompton and King’s Road, zip by the Saatchi Gallery en route to the finish line at the stunning Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
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