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London Marathon

The London Marathon is run over the traditional distance of 26 miles and 385 yards in London, but it is not a conventional marathon. It was intended to be, and has become, a huge sporting festival and celebration.

Its architect and founder was Chris Brasher, a former Olympic steeplechase champion and a celebrated sports journalist, who was inspired by the New York Marathon. He wanted to establish a marathon that was different, in effect a "people's marathon". Certainly the response of the competing and spectating public has fulfilled this dream. Applications for entries always heavily exceed the places available, with the numbers actually being permitted to run now exceeding 40,000, making it the largest marathon field in the world. Equally, the preparedness of spectators to line the route all the way from Charlton Park, paste the Cutty Sark and over Tower Bridge, through the Docklands and East End, and back through the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace and the finish in The Mall is ever-increasing.

Since its inception in 1981, the formula for the race has remained much the same, although the picturesque finish on Westminster Bridge has been replaced by the grandeur of The Mall, and the scale of entries has meant that separate starts are required for elite men, elite women, wheel-chaired competitors, and the general running enthusiast. The all-inclusive nature of the London Marathon is reflected by the deliberate inclusion of every type of athlete from the wheel-chaired to the elite to the veteran, some of whom have exceeded eighty years of age. However, it is also a marathon with a wider mission because it actively encourages the participation of sponsored runners who represent good causes, such as Terry Kavanagh of Havering, who has raised £14,000 for the Parkinson's Disease Society, whilst being himself a sufferer of that condition. Literally millions of pounds [1] have been raised by individuals and surpluses from the Marathon's own fee, and sponsorship income is distributed to recreational schemes through the London Marathon Charitable Trust. This is how Chris Brasher's aim of a "people's marathon" is being fulfilled.

Nevertheless, the London Marathon is a serious race for most and its record times - 2:05:38 for men, set by Khalid Khannouchi of the USA in 2000, and 2:15:24 for women, set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain in 2003 - show that it is highly competitive and a potentially fast course.

Whilst it is a serious athletic event, with large prize money attracting elite athletes, public perception of the race is dominated by the fun runners. Sometimes in ludicrous fancy dress and often collecting money for charity, these make up the bulk of the 30,000+ runners and help to draw crowds of half a million on the streets.

The first London Marathon was held on March 19 1981. 7,747 athletes started that race, and 6,255 finished. The event caught the mood of the public, and the next year race entries trebled.

Men's race
1981Dick Beardsley USA & Inge SimonsenNOR/USA2:11:48
1982Hugh JonesGBR2:09:24
1983Mike GrattonGBR2:09:43
1984Charlie SpeddingGBR2:09:57
1985Steve JonesGBR2:08:16
1986Toshihiko SekoJPN2:10:02
1987Hiromi TaniguchiJPN2:09:50
1988Henrik JřrgensenDEN2:10:20
1989Douglas WakiihuriKEN2:09:03
1990Allister HuttonGBR2:10:10
1991Yakov TolstikovURS2:09:17
1992António PintoPOR2:10:02
1993Eamonn MartinGBR2:10:50
1994Dionicio CerónMEX2:08:53
1995Dionicio CerónMEX2:08:30
1996Dionicio CerónMEX2:10:00
1997António PintoPOR2:07:55
1998Abel AntónESP2:07:57
1999Abdelkader El MouazizMAR2:07:57
2000Antonio PintoPOR2:06:36
2001Abdelkader El MouazizMAR2:07:09
2002Khalid KhannouchiUS2:05:38
2003Gezahegne AberaETH2:07:56

Women's Race
1981Joyce SmithGBR2:29:57
1982Joyce SmithGBR2:29:43
1983Grete WaitzNOR2:25:29
1984Ingrid KristiansenNOR2:24:26
1985Ingrid KristiansenNOR2:21:06
1986Grete WaitzNOR2:24:54
1987Ingrid KristiansenNOR2:22:48
1988Ingrid KristiansenNOR2:25:41
1989Véronique MarotGBR2:25:56
1990Wanda PanfilPOL2:26:31
1991Rosa MotaPOR2:26:14
1992Katrin DörreGER2:29:39
1993Katrin DörreGER2:27:09
1994Katrin DörreGER2:32:34
1995Malgorzata SobanskaPOL2:27:43
1996Liz McColganGBR2:27:54
1997Joyce ChepchumbaKEN2:26:51
1998Catherina McKiernanIRL2:26:26
1999Joyce ChepchumbaKEN2:23:22
2000Tegla LaroupeKEN2:24:33
2001Derartu TuluKEN2:23:57
2002Paula RadcliffeGBR2:18:56
2003Paula RadcliffeGBR2:15:24 Women's World Record

Wheelchair Results not complete

Men's Wheelchair Race
2002David WeirGBR1:39:44
2003Joel JeannotFRA1:32:02

Women's Wheelchair Race
1997Tanni Grey-ThompsonGBR
1998Tanni Grey-ThompsonGBR
1999Tanni Grey-ThompsonGBR
2000Tanni Grey-ThompsonGBR
2001Tanni Grey-ThompsonGBR
2002Tanni Grey-ThompsonGBR2:22:51
2003Francesca PorcellatoITA2:04:21

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