London Marathon Start Time: When Does The 2024 Race Begin?

Spectators watch competitors in the Elite Men’s race and the mass start at the beginning of the TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023
Spectators watch competitors in the Elite Men’s race and the mass start at the beginning of the 2023 TCS London Marathon (Image credit: Ian Walton for London Marathon Events)

In an event as big as the London Marathon, with around 40,000 runners taking part, start times become complicated. Getting that many people across the start line in an orderly fashion involves a system of staggered waves based on your predicted time, and you’ll need to do some planning to ensure that all that time spent marathon training isn’t undermined by missing your starting slot.

What time does the London Marathon start?

The exact information on your start time is found in the email sent by the race organizers, which should have landed in your inbox over the past few days. Along with your time, the email contains info on the color of your start zone, your wave number, when you should arrive in your start zone, and the best station to get there. These will be laid out like the below, taken from my email:





START TIME: 10:00 - 10:01

The email also contains your bib number, and a link to the London Marathon 2024 event guide, which includes info like a map of the starting area in Greenwich Park. The details on your start time will also be available in the London Marathon tracker app when that launches.

For the mass participation event, the first runners start at around 10am and the last runners usually begin at 11.30am. The elite wheelchair and women’s race usually starts well before the masses, while the men’s elite race sets off just before the Championship runners begin.

What time do the elites start at the London Marathon?

The first races to start at the London Marathon are the men’s and women’s elite wheelchair events, which begin at 9.15am. The elite women then start at 9.25am, with the elite men starting at 10am just before the mass start. 

The London Marathon is unusual in having a women-only elite race, where the female elites don’t get the benefit of running in larger groups with men. This is why the women-only world marathon record has always been set at the London Marathon in the past, with Mary Keitany setting the current record of 2hr 17min 1sec at the London Marathon 2017. That record could well be broken in 2024, with several extremely fast women running the London Marathon, including the overall world record holder Tigist Assefa, who ran 2hr 11min 53sec at the Berlin Marathon last year.

Does everyone start the London Marathon at the same time?

In order to ensure that overcrowding isn’t a problem, the London Marathon has a staggered start that uses your predicted race time to send you off in a wave of runners with similar goals. The fastest runners go off first at around 10.00am, with waves of runners then departing up until the last runners between 11-11.30am. It’s still pretty crowded on the course in the early stages of the race, but if everyone set off at the same time it would be chaos.

What time does the London Marathon usually start?

I’ve run the London Marathon six times and been in the first mass participation wave on each occasion. In four of my London Marathons the start time has been 10am, and it is again this weekend. In 2022 the start time was 9:40am, and in 2021 it was 9:30am, with both of those races being held in the autumn owing to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every time I’ve run the marathon in April it’s started at 10am.

Where does the London Marathon start?

There are three starting points for the London Marathon route, which helps get tens of thousands of runners onto the course in the most efficient fashion possible. All three start lines—Red, Green and Blue— are located in Greenwich Park, which takes some time to get to, so planning your route to the race in advance is crucial.

When should you arrive at the race?

When you receive your final instructions email it will contain your exact start time along with a suggested time to arrive at your designated assembly area, which is usually 80-90 minutes ahead of your start time. This gives you time to drop off your bag, go to the toilets (expect long queues) and get into your starting pen, which will usually open around 15 minutes before your start time.

There are four start areas in Greenwich Park—Blue, Red, Green and Yellow. You can identify your start by looking at your registration email or race bib—the color of your number and its background shows your start wave. 

Blackheath is the best station for runners at the Blue and Yellow starts, Greenwich is best for Red, and Maze Hill is best for Green. 

Note that every station is 10-15 minutes’ walk away from the actual starting areas, so factor that into your travel plans. Each start will be clearly signposted, and stewards will be there to help if maranoia takes hold and you feel like you’re going the wrong way.

Once you’re in your starting area it can get chilly while you wait to begin running, so a good tip is to take old clothes you’re happy to donate in the bins around the start line. A black bin bag also works well, or a cheap waterproof poncho. Just make sure anything you discard before running is thrown into a bin where it won’t be in the way of other runners.

What time is the London Marathon on TV?

The BBC is the host broadcaster for the London Marathon and you can watch the event live on BBC One and Two, online, or on the iPlayer app, with coverage starting at 8.30am BST (3.30am EST).

All the details of the BBC’s live coverage of the London Marathon 2024 (all times BST) are below, and there is also a highlights show for the event at 6pm on BBC Two on the day.

BBC One: 8.30am-2.15pm

BBC Two: 2.15pm-3pm

BBC Online and iPlayer: 1pm-6pm

Is there a cut-off time for the London Marathon?

The official cut-off time for the London Marathon is eight hours from when the last runner crosses the start line at around 11.30am. There are tailwalkers for the race who will maintain an eight-hour pace. Even if you exceed this you won’t be kicked off the course and you’ll be able to cross the finish line, you’ll just have to run some of the race on pavements rather than closed roads.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.