Wherever you are in the world, the marathon never fails to be a day to remember. We’re lucky enough to have one of the most famous races right on our doorstep, with the London Marathon accepting over 40,000 participants last year alone. Whether you have family or friends running or not, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of pride viewing this historic event – trust us! We’ve rounded up some simple tips for both the participants and spectators to make your day better than ever.

If You’re Participating

What to eat the night before…

It can be difficult to have an appetite the night before anything remotely nerve-wracking, let alone a 26.2-mile race around the capital city.

It is so important to keep fuelling the body with small, high-carb meals – these can include sandwiches, pasta, rice dishes and cereals. Pancakes are a good substitute if the former can make you feel bloated.

Try this Freekeh treats with maple bacon and avocado.

Snacks to take on the day…

Wake up early enough for digestion to take place before you cross the starting line. Try this homemade baked quinoa, pistachio and cranberry granola with some yoghurt and fruit for breakfast high in low GI carbohydrates.

During the race, stay hydrated with plenty of fluids and electrolytes (sports drinks packed with potassium, calcium and sodium).

Recommended snacks include specially designed sports gels, bananas, oranges, dried fruit or sweets such as jelly beans or gummy bears – we are not kidding!

Restaurants to visit once the race is over…

To prevent further muscle breakdown and kick-start muscle recovery, you’ll want to keep refuelling once the race is over.

These recommendations are perfect for a protein/carbohydrate heavy reward.

  • Meat Market, Covent Garden – this is the place to head for if you want milkshakes, fried chicken and carbs galore. Who can blame you!
  • Café Nouf, St James Park – for a Lebanese Feast with all your supporters, try this independent gem. Share an array of authentic mezze dishes at a very reasonable price.
  • Bao Fa Garden, South Bank – if you’re after somewhere a little fancy this place is perfect. With wonderful views of the water along South Bank, you can enjoy fusion dishes from across China.

If You’re Spectating

Get digital…

Download the spectators guide from Virgin on the build-up to race day. Track your friends and family running in the gruelling 26.2-mile race; you can even view their pace! IMPORTANT: Make sure you have details of your runners’ Race Number.

Decide where to watch…

It’s not the day to be indecisive.

Plan where you are going to watch and stick with your decision.

We’d advise to steer clear of the starting line – it will most likely be jam-packed and difficult to spot anyone in the crowds.

  • Mile 9 by Canada Water is the first cheering point. 
  • Mile 13 (and Mile 22) is a particularly good spot by Tower Bridge as it gives you twice the chance to cheer the runners on.  With beautiful views of the London skyline, you better get there VERY early as crowds gather fast!
  • Mile 16 is where the race starts to heat up, with 10 miles to go. The nearest stations are Heron Quays or Canary Wharf.
  • Finally, Mile 25 could be where the runners need you most. Get the tube to Embankment and watch the participants run, walk, skip or even jump along the River Thames.

Prepare for crowds…

The ever-growing number of participants means an ever-growing mass of spectators. Expect to get squashed, expect to walk slow and expect a long day! Not to sound like your lovely Mum, but make sure to wear comfy shoes and stay hydrated with a bottle of water.

Cheer as loudly as you can – for everybody!

Unless you’ve run the marathon yourself, it is hard to explain the effects a stranger calling your name can have on your performance.

In a moment where you want nothing more but to give up, this can add a spring to your step.

Most importantly… take a packed lunch!

It’s going to be a long day, which means you’re bound to get hungry.

Don’t make the mistake of joining that lengthy hot dog queue that won’t keep your cravings at bay.

Here are a few dishes you can make in advance and enjoy as you watch!

Super Seed Quinoa & Blueberry Breakfast Bars
These bars are perfect for transporting around in your backpack all day. With minimal mess and maximum flavour, the fresh blueberries are the perfect amount of morning sweetness.
Beluga Lentil Hummus
Take a pot of this delicious dip along with veggie crudités.
Butternut Squash, Feta & Sunblush Salad with Wheatberries
This salad can easily be mixed roadside or prepared the night before.  The feta brings these ingredients together for a fresh spring forkful.
Smoky Spanish-Style Grain & Chorizo Tortilla
This tortilla is super speedy to rustle up and taste great hot or cold.
Super Seed Cocoa Protein Balls
For a sweet snack, you won’t feel guilty about. Remember to save one for whoever you’re supporting!