London Marathon Travel Guide: How To Get To The Race

Runners walking to the start areas on Blackheath ahead of the start of the 2022 London Marathon
No matter how you travel to the London Marathon, there will be a short walk to the start area (Image credit: Jon Buckle for London Marathon Events)

Greenwich Park is among the nicest places in London. It is not, however, a place that many people would describe as easy to get to early on a Sunday morning, let alone when nearly 50,000 people are also attempting to get there for the start of the London Marathon.

Even with runners’ London Marathon start times spread out it’s always chaotic, and planning ahead is vital. To make the experience as pain-free as possible, give yourself as much time as you can to complete the journey and heed these five bits of advice.

1. Check Your Arrival And Start Times

Your registration email gives you a lot of information to help you plan your journey, including recommended stations for your bib color, an arrival window with suggested trains and your start time. These details are also available in the My Marathon section of the London Marathon app. Sticking to these suggestions will make the whole experience as easy as possible for you and all the other runners, so plan your journey around this advice if possible.

2. Download The Event Guide

Download the London Marathon Event Guide to your phone before you start traveling. This means if you want to check something on the way, you won’t be relying on the same cellular service 48,000 panicked souls are trying to access simultaneously. The instructions contain maps of the start areas and general advice for getting to where you need to be to start on time.

3. Keep Your Race Number Handy

Race-day travel is free for runners who flash their race number on the Underground, Overground, bus network, TfL Rail, DLR and the relevant Southeastern trains that get you to the start line. There will be crowds at many stations on the main routes to the start, so don’t delay everyone by having to dig your number out every time it’s needed.

4. Be Prepared For A Short Walk

You’re about to run 26.2 miles so understandably you’ll want to avoid any extra activity on Sunday morning, but the start areas are all 10 to 15 minutes away from a station. Making sure you arrive at the right station will ensure your walk to the start is no longer than 15 minutes. Consider that walk the last part of your marathon training, and a useful way to warm up for the race.

The Blue start is a 10-minute walk from Blackheath station, as is the Yellow start. The Green start is 10 to 15 minutes from Maze Hill, and the Red start is 10 to 15 minutes from Maze Hill or Greenwich. If you arrive at the station suggested in your registration email, there will also be signs to follow to your start. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time for this walk because you don’t want to be running to make your start on time.

5. Bring Warm, Old Clothes

Once you drop your bag off you can be waiting for as long as an hour before you start the race—enough time to get pretty cold if you don’t have warm clothes to wear. Wear older clothes you’re happy to donate to charity via the collection points around the start, and if you don’t have any of those then a bin bag is a good alternative.

6. Check TfL Status Updates Before You Leave

There are no significant TfL engineering works planned for Sunday, but it’s worth checking the live status of all the lines before you start traveling to the race in the morning, in case something has gone awry and your planned route is unavailable. You can also use the TfL journey planner to work out your route to the race within London, and any disruptions will then be flagged up.

7. Bear The Football In Mind

The FA Cup semi-finals take place on the same weekend as the London Marathon and Coventry are playing Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday, with kick-off at 3.30pm. This will add tens of thousands of other visitors into the capital on Sunday, and you can expect the Metropolitan line to be busy in the afternoon with people heading to the game. 

There shouldn’t be too much overlap with the London Marathon crowds in the morning, but if you’re planning to stick around in town after the race you can expect London stations with trains heading north—Euston in particular—to be busy in the evening after the match finishes at around 5.30pm (or later if the game goes to extra time).

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.