The London Marathon is one of the most important sporting and charitable events in the capital's calendar, testing a runner's mettle to the limit. For those looking for something a little gentler, here are four unique routes to try...
Distance: 4.27 miles Est. Time: 30 mins
Start: Imperial War Museum Finish: The London Eye
Runners commence under the gaze of the twin artillery guns outside the Imperial War Museum before making their way up the Elephant and round the Castle, meeting the majestic Tower Bridge at the south end. Turning left onto the hustle and bustle of South Bank the impressive HMS Belfast can be seen bobbing in the Thames and although a stop at Vinopolis is tempting, a glass of wine might be a little dehydrating! Passing London Bridge onto Giles Gilbert Scott’s iconic former power station, now Tate Modern and the faithful reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe, the cultural trail continues. As the stylish glass curves of BFI IMAX gleam in the sunlight, Denys Lasden’s National Theatre comes into view, followed closely by The Royal Festival Hall and culminating with one of the capital’s most-renowned modern landmarks, The London Eye.
Distance: 4.14 miles Est. Time: 30 mins
Start: Royal Observatory Greenwich Finish: Tower Bridge
What better way to start this grueller than with one of London’s most stunning views? The leafy surrounding of the Royal Observatory Greenwich provide an Arcadian setting to make a descent past Christopher Wren’s picturesque Old Royal Naval College and take in the nearby juxtaposition of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron’s award-winning Laban Building. More observant runners will be able to spot the towering masts of Victoria tea clipper Cutty Sark, moored permanently on the bankside to be enjoyed by the public. Following a challenging stretch up the A200, those looking for a detour can dip into Shad Thames and pass the Design Museum before reaching the finishing post at Tower Bridge.
Distance: 5.14 miles Est. Time: 45 mins
Start: Syon Park Finish: London Wetlands Centre
The stunning grounds of Syon Park, designed by legendary landscaper Capability Brown, offer a bucolic start to this gallop through the green spaces of West London, up to Kew Bridge and the charming London Museum of Water and Steam. Crossing over, runners will 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, runners finish at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, one of the capital’s best bird-watching sites.
Distance: 5.4 miles Est. Time: 45 mins
Start: ZSL London Zoo Finish: Royal Hospital Chelsea
The top of Regents Park and the wild-style of ZSL London Zoo mark the start of Parks & Palaces, a run 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.