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Watching the London Marathon Live - 9 tips to be the best spectator and supporter of a runner

London Marathon spectator blog image

Are you planning to go to London to support a loved one for this year's London Marathon? Not sure where to go, what to do and anxious about the crowds or missing out on seeing them?

Here are some useful tips to help you!

I’ve been privileged to run the London Marathon three times and have been there to support a few times so follow my tips below to make sure you have an awesome day! Read part 2 where I’ve set out the exact locations I’d head to so that you get to see your runner as many times as possible!

Before the Marathon

1) Force them to be off their feet the day before

I have visions of runners being rugby tackled to the ground by their loved ones now!

Planning the day before the race is really important. If you are travelling up to the expo, try and minimise walking and although you should try and enjoy the expo, don’t stay too long, it’s an energy zapping experience.

Get the race number and pack, have a quick look round or sit down and listen to some of the talks then get back to your hotel and take the load off!

Remember it’s not a shopping trip or sight seeing trip, you’ll see enough of the sites on Marathon day!

Encouraging them have an afternoon nap in the hotel will be really beneficial (you can thank me later runners!), this opens up sometime for shopping or sight seeing for the non-runners!

2) Rest up

Spectating is a tiring day, enjoy a lie in as you don’t need to get up anywhere near as early as your runner, enjoy the BBC’s build up on the TV coverage to get you into the mood!

3) Plan plan plan

Plan exactly where you are going to be, ideally down to the pin point make sure you and the runner know where you'll be!

If you know the area, you can agree which lamppost or which shop you’ll be standing in front of.

If you don’t know the area, then agree with the runner the locations based on mile markers, I’d always agree to be 200-300 before or after the mile markers as it can be busy around the actual mile marker.

I’d also agree whether you’ll be on their left or right, knowing which exit of the tube station maybe needed here as you are unlikely to be able to cross in some places

WARNING: It can get really really busy at times so caveating that you'll be anywhere after the agreed point if it is busy is a good idea. As you may get there and it is 4 deep with spectators already.


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During the marathon

4) The Runner finds the spectator, not the other way around.

This might sound strange but the runner should find the spectator, not the other way round. Ideally you’ll spot each other but it’s much easier for the runner to spot the stationary spectator than vice versa!

A great tip here is to buy a helium balloon, if you are watching with a rucksack, tie the string to it and you won't even know that you're carrying it! The runner has more chance of spotting you this way. Although, take care of the balloon when getting on and off of the tube!

Not sure where to go? I've posted exactly where I would head if I was supporting someone who is expecting to run it in 4+hours, check out part 2 of the blog.

5) Tracking apps

I would definitely get the London Marathon tracking app, although you’ll have to do some maths to work out when they are likely to pass you. I’d also consider using other apps; Garmin have a live tracking function, iPhone also does, I think Strava may on the premium paid version, just be mindful of using up the battery as it'll use more power!

On that note, slightly related, an extra power pack as a spectator is a good idea. 6) STAY AWAY from the Cuttysark

Now I know it is iconic, and a huge focus on the BBC coverage, and admittedly the atmosphere is amazing there but so are other places! Getting there in my experience isn’t too bad if you get there early, but getting away from there has got the potential for spoiling your whole day. The tube station is crazy busy and you can queue for 1-2 hours! If there is one piece of advice you take away from this blog, stay away from the Cuttysark!

Read that again 👆

7) Be flexible

Although you should plan plan plan, you may miss each other. Don't worry too much, just knowing you'll be there will help the runner as they'll anticipate where you are. Make your decision to move to the next location when you are 100% sure that you have missed them!

8) Take snacks and water

Keeping hydrated and fueled is key to make sure you have a good day! Flapjacks are always a good option!!!

After the Marathon

9) Don’t tell them your tired

Although spectating is a tiring day, let the runner have their glory, they'll no doubt be more tired than you!!


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