Athletics News

Is London the best marathon in the world?

Is London the best marathon in the world?

An almost ever-present, Steve Smythe gives his admittedly biased view on this great event in addition to final official results from the April 23 extravaganza

As I have completed 42 London Marathons and live about 400 metres from the Green start, where I set off this year, I am biased and probably would still sing its praises even if it was organised by Liz Truss and Diane Abbott instead of what surely is the best organising major running event team in the world.

I’ve also reported on around 30 London Marathons, which was relatively easy when I comfortably finished within a hour of the winners but less so these days when, older and slower, the press conferences are finished by the time I stagger home.

Admittedly, I haven’t run that many major alternatives – Boston, Austin, Seville and Venice top my competition list – but I have done all of the Paris course and the vast majority of the courses of Berlin and New York. However in my view London is the world’s best marathon even if there are better races to do if you are just below elite level and chasing fast times rather than looking at the whole package of what constitutes the greatest race.

London isn’t technically as fast as Berlin, Valencia or Chicago but course record times of now 2:01:25 and 2:15:25 show it is clearly one of the world’s fastest even if its race budget and high quality of field boosts a course which is slightly downhill overall and point to point but within the legal limits, although it has a fair number of turns and slopes.

Based on fastest times (top 50 in and top 50 women all-time), Berlin only just heads London with Valencia a clear third. London is quite easily the best for women times though with 13 to Valencia’s 8 with Berlin only fifth best but Berlin dominates the men’s list with 16 to Valencia’s next best of nine. Note, Boston is not included due to its downhill point to point non-record-attainable course.

1 Berlin 21
2 London 20
3 Valencia 17
4 Tokyo 9
5 Chicago 8
6 Dubai 7
Eq 7 Amsterdam/Rotterdam 4
Eq 9 Nagoya/Milan/Seoul/Eugene 2
Eq 13 Frankfurt/Hamburg 1

London doesn’t have the history of Boston, or is quite the size of New York but it does have the best elite fields, the best infrastructure of race organisation, is far and away the best charity event in the world raising millions every year, and has a city perhaps only surpassed by Paris in terms of its buildings and grandeur.

The crowds at London are also probably the most enthusiastic, aided by the…

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