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London Marathon

A city that has hosted several Olympic Games, has the tennis at Wimbledon and many big events at Wembley Stadium, London is also home to one of the most important marathons in the world.

The race starts in Greenwich Park and after going through Charlton Park and Barrack Field turns north as runners approach the Thames River. The course then goes west, with the river to the right of the runners. The race crosses the river as runners go over the iconic Tower Bridge. On the north side of the river the course turns east. The course goes through the Canary Wharf area before a turn back to the west. Runners will go past St Pauls Cathedral and The Houses of Parliament and just before the finish line will go by Buckingham Palace.

The race finishes at The Mall and as well as the runner's time being recorded they are given a medal for completing the race and also a finisher's t-shirt and some refreshments. Along the course there are many drink stations serving water to runners while others have energy drinks.

A flat course can help runners record low times but as there can be over 30,000 runners in the race it can get crowded for all but those who start at the front of the field.

Emmanuel Mutai, from Kenya, has the fastest time for the London Marathon as he won the 2011 race in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 40 seconds. Other winners include Martin Lel, Dionicio Ceron and Abdelkader El Mouaziz. Paula Radcliffe won the women's event in 2003 with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds.

Among the slower runners, sometimes in costumes, are those with a goal for raising money and not for finishing with a fast time. The London Marathon income, after expenses, goes to the London Marathon Charitable Trust.

London doesn't get very hot, especially in late April when the London Marathon is on, so runners can expect a temperature range from 6 degrees Celsius to 14 degrees Celsius. London is at its driest during that part of the year but there is still a one in three chance of some rain during the days of April.

International runners will fly into London Heathrow Airport or one of the other major airports in the area. To get to the start line, there are several options to take with buses, taxis and the London Underground.

Along with the tourist attractions that are next to the marathon course, other places to visit in London include the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Natural History Museum and Tower of London.

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