Guide to Watching the London Marathon with Children

We’re now just 6 days away from the London Marathon. If you’re not running, maybe you’re planning to go and watch. Please do – the crowd support is magnificent and I’m not sure I would have completed it with my injury in 2015 had it not been for the crowds. Rather than write a standard guide to spectating, I thought I’d advise you on how to do it with the kids in tow!

Plan your route

If you’re trying to spot friends and family running, part of the fun is trying to do as many spots as possible. However, this isn’t quite so easy if you’ve got kids in tow. Public transport is busy and many stations don’t have step free access if you’re planning on taking a pushchair. If you’re going with older children or teenagers, you can work out a route and a plan for if you get separated. However, with younger children, I’d choose one or two sensible points and stick with that. Remember, the phone networks can sometimes be busy in London on Marathon day as people try to meet up, so keep the route sensible!

Can you leave the pushchair behind?

It may not be practical, but consider whether you can leave the pushchair behind. You may find it easier to negotiate the crowds by carrying baby in a sling. If you must take a pushchair, stick to the quieter areas. The runners will appreciate your cheering efforts even more in less busy places!

Safety first

Make sure everyone knows what to do if you get separated and be prepared for not getting through on mobile phones on the first attempt.

Avoid the start

Greenwich is amazing, the Cutty Sark looks fantastic, running past it is very special and it’s full of amazing shops and places to eat. It’s also very busy on a standard Sunday – imagine what it’s like on marathon day! Tempting as it may be to make this one of your spectator points, give it a miss. Unless you get there early, it won’t be easy to spot people and it’s going to be very difficult with small children. Plus the transport links will be extremely congested as people move on.

Go to Mudchute

Mudchute is at about mile 17 and it’s accessible on the DLR. If you are in Greenwich, you can also walk through the foot tunnel to Island Gardens and either walk or jump on the DLR there. I remember it last year being fairly quiet, so this is a good place to spectate. Plus at mile 17, lots of runners are really starting to find it tough, so it’s a great place to boost morale as well.

Make a banner

Encourage your kids to make a banner and hold it up at your chosen spectator spots. It really will help to boost morale. Despite my rant about annoying things people shout at the London Marathon, I really do appreciate the efforts people go to and one of my personal favourites is “Smile, you’ve run further than Mo Farah in his first marathon!” Or hold out some jelly babies and encourage your kids to high five. It WILL make someone very happy indeed.

Hydrate and fuel!

Hydration and fuelling isn’t just for the runners. Be sure to take drinks and snacks if you’re out watching – it can be a long day and a hard slog to get to the shops.

Book somewhere for lunch

If you plan to have a meal out, or meet your hungry hero after the race, try to book somewhere to eat. Many places will be exceptionally busy.

The bottom line? Have fun, but PLAN what you’re doing. Enjoy!




5 thoughts on “Guide to Watching the London Marathon with Children

  1. I’m not sure I will take our (future!) children to watch London until they are much older but they will definitely be on the sidelines of smaller races when the time comes.
    I shall be there supporting on Sunday and can’t wait to cheer everyone in. Some of the loveliest and most inspirational signs I’ve spotted have been made by children and really spurred me on in races.
    Love that ‘You’ve run further than Mo Farah in his first marathon’ sign! Haha!

  2. My husband found it easy to take our two children to see me at several spots around the second half of the course by jumping on and off the DLR. Kids were then 12 & 11 so not tiny, but it was still a long day for them. Good luck to all the supporters tomorrow. Oh and the runners of course ;-)

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this article. The enthusiasm of the kids was a joy to read. They had great fun and learned a lot too. Well done to the whole family.

  4. I really enjoyed this article – I was going to write something similar having almost nailed my spectating strategy over the last couple of years. :)
    I would say that it IS possible to get a first viewing at mile 7 if you get off at Greenwich (not Cutty Sark) and make your way (marshals will direct you as you come out of station) to that mile marker point (get there for 10ish – and you are near a Costa). After you have a fantastic vantage point of the leaders and faster runners (<4 hour targets) you can then easily walk to the Cutty Sark tunnel and mile 17 (a quiet way along the river) – so you then get two points. I managed to get to mile 24 this year after that – mainly as my boyfriend I was supporting I thought was really struggling with heat (his tracking dot STOPPED – caused me alarm!) I wanted to check up on him again… it is BUSY (get out at Tower Gateway) but if you can get a spot here, any extra help for runners at this point is really appreciated.

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