London Marathon Start Time: When Does The 2023 Race Begin?

Runners as they cross the red start line of the 2021 London Marathon, Sunday 3rd October 2021.
Runners as they cross the red start line of the 2021 London Marathon (Image credit: Adam Warner 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 organizers will send out exact information on your start time nearer the race itself, with details also available in the London Marathon tracker app. For the mass participation event, the first runners usually start at around 9.40am and the last runners at 11am. The elite wheelchair races set off at 8.50am, the women’s elite race starts at 9am, and the men’s elite race sets off just before the mass start at 9.40am. 

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.

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.