Our London Marathon guide for spectators 2017

20-04-2017

Another London Marathon is upon us and if, like us, you're unable to take part, then the next best thing to experience the fantastic atmosphere is to go along and watch.

Anyone who has run the London Marathon will tell you the crowds are one of the things that make it so special. On certain sections of the course, you are hit by a wall of sound as people clap, cheer and shout words of encouragement. Such support can really help you carry on when the going gets tough.

The atmosphere can lift the runners but it can also inspire the spectators, many have vowed to run a marathon themselves or taken up running after watching the 26.2mile event.

If you're planning to support friends and family running, you might be unsure of the best places to spot them. Our guide can help...

THE START

The marathon starts at Greenwich Park, Blackheath.

The first race off is the wheelchair marathon at 8.55am followed by the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup (ambulant athletes) at 9am.10003475 10154006186475717 8311362766164194381 n

Then it's the turn of the elite women at 9.15am, with Jo Pavey, Charlotte Purdue, Susan Partridge and Alyson Dixon aiming to gain selection to represent Great Britain in the World Athletics Champs in August. Chris Thompson, Scott Overall and Andrew Lemoncello are the male Brits aiming to qualify for the championship, with their race starting at 10am along with the masses.

Greenwich Park is a great place to soak up the anticipation and atmosphere but be aware certain areas will be restricted to the runners so organisers recommend you don't try to accompany friends and family running to their start line.

James CracknellCELEBRITY SPOTTERS

Star spotters hoping to see the celebrities taking part this year - including TV presenters Chris Evans, Jenni Falconer and Sophie Raworth, and Olympic rower James Cracknell (pictured right signing autographs before the 2011 race) - should line the route of the green start where the celebs will begin. Their first mile is on a separate route along St John's Park road which then links up with the blue start for elite and club runners on Shooters Hill Road.

If you do go to watch the start of the race, you might also catch a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. They will officially start this year's event along with Olympians Helen Glover and Heather Stanning (the rowers will then take part in the race themselves). The royals will be supporting runners raising money for the mental health charity MIND.

TO WATCH THE MASSES

The red start for the masses begins along Charlton Way before linking up with the other runners at the three mile point.

CUTTY SARK

The Cutty Sark, just after the six mile point, is a popular vantage point so you can expect it to be very congested.

The advantage of this spot is that if you are tracking a certain runner, once you have cheered them through, you can then take the The Greenwich Foot Tunnel to the Isle of Dogs (note the tunnel is usually only open one way - south to north - on marathon day between 10.30am and 12:30pm), where you will then see the runners again as the approach the 17 mile point.

Or catch the DLR to see the runners between 15 and 20 miles depending on where you get off.

CANADA WATER

This stretch is becoming increasingly popular but if you head to Brunel Road rather than towards Redriff Road from Canada Water station, it is less congested. The runners loop round the station on Salter Road so if you’re quick, you can follow a runner past the 9 mile point and then cut across to the 11 mile point to catch them again. It's another easy place to hop on the Tube or DLR to move on to either Canary Wharf or head to the finish.

TOWER BRIDGE

The iconic landmark of Tower Bridge is a welcome sight for runners as it means they are nearly at the halfway mark. Arrive early to grab a space to watch the action here as it is often one of the most popular spots on the course.Screenshot 52

As the route heads out to Canary Wharf and then turns back on itself, people in pole position near the Tower of London will be able to watch athletes coming over Tower Bridge and then see them again as they pass on East Smithfield at the 22 mile mark and then on to Lower Thames Street. Spectators positioned along the Highway between miles 13 and 14 will also see the runners running out and then back again.

CANARY WHARF

Canary Wharf is another of the best places to soak up the atmosphere as bands line the route near the landmark.

As the runners enter the Isle of Dogs at mile 15 and loop around Mudchute, there are multiple options to cheer your friend or family member. Due to building works, the runners won't weave around the base of Canary Wharf as in previous years though, so avoid Heron Quays station. There’s plenty of pubs and coffee shops in this area where you can have a drink or snack to keep you going – spectating can be hard work too!

highway 2AVOID THE CROWDS

For those who want a quieter spot, take the Docklands to Blackwall or Limehouse stations as the runners pass at 19 to 21 miles. Extra loud cheers will be needed here to raise the spirits of the runners as they dig deep for the last third of the race.

SEE THE STARS OF THE FUTURE

The Mini Marathon follows the last 5K of the course starting on Lower Thames Street near Monument station. Past winners have included Mo Farah himself. The races begin at 8.40am with boys, girls and wheelchair competitors racing in their respective age categories.

THE FINISH

The last three miles of the race passes along Embankment, turning right at Big Ben into Birdcage Walk and then past Buckingham Palace into The Mall to finish.

Arrive early to get a good spot on these stretches as the crowds can often become three deep. Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges are places to get an elevated view of the action.

The grandstand seating on The Mall is restricted to those with tickets - usually given to those supporting charity runners and places are allocated in advance.

WATCH AT HOME OR VIA YOUR PHONE

Those who can't make it into London can follow all the action from the comfort of their sofa. BBC One’s coverage starts at 8.30am. You can choose which part of the race to follow via the Red Button. They will also have live streaming on their website, radio coverage on 5 Live and a highlights show on BBC Two at 6pm. The London Marathon website will also have real time information, including a facility to track individual runners, and regular updates via their social media channels. They also have an app you can download to track up to ten runners.

Good luck to everyone taking part! Read our final race day tips here