I spent my Sunday at the London Marathon. Not running it (oh dear) but supporting my housemate who was attempting this amazing feat (and conquered it under 4 hours). People cheered and high-fived every passing runner, hoisted encouraging banners and offered water/energy gels/candy/honestly any kind of support running 26.2 miles requires. The atmosphere was uplifting and infectious – to the point where my friend and I even considered entering next year’s race. At Tower Bridge, we spotted my housemate and realised the impact of the London Marathon. These runners in their thousands were raising millions of pounds for charity – hence the cumulative amount being represented by this year’s hashtag #ThanksaBillion. Not only that but the race’s impact on the environment and general economic effect on businesses is prominent.
This post is a very general discussion about certain aspects of the 2019 London Marathon and if personal views are shared, they are my own and should not be attributed to CTaLE, UCL or any other organisation that I am associated with.
The London Marathon was founded in 1981 with millions of runners having participated ever since. In 2018, £63.7 million was raised for charity making it the largest fundraising event in the world and in 2019 the marathon made history having raised £1 billion in fundraising throughout the history of the event. With there being over 40,000 runners taking part in 2019, there’s also an environmental impact through the number of water bottles used and participants/spectators flying in.
According to this London Marathon Events update, new initiatives were put into place this year to reduce the marathon’s environmental impact.
A few initiatives:
- The number of drinking stations were reduced thus lessening the amount of plastic water bottles
- Sustainable material running belts were introduced and reused upon race completion
- Biodegradable energy capsules used by runners
- Race instructions and registration materials digitally issued
Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University also did a study on the economic impact of the London Marathon, and although published in 2004, the effect of the marathon on London and the UK as a whole still stands. Spectators and runners coming into London spent more than £45 million according to 2011 London Marathon data. That amount included accommodation, food and drink, and each runner’s overall preparation (kit, shoes, etc.). The research also found that stores and pubs on the marathon route had a significant increase in business on the day of (68% and 90% respectively).
After doing some of this basic research, it’s clear to see that the London Marathon has a far greater reach and effect than I had initially imagined.