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History of The London Marathon

The Dysart Arms next to Richmond Park is the home of the Ranelagh Harriers running club, and on Wednesday nights runners drift in and talk over pints of bitter. One night, the talk was of the New York Marathon – a marathon with a buzzing atmosphere and spectators who don’t let you give up.

New York city marathon

Several club members had competed in the 1978 New York City Marathon and never tired of talking about it. They were amazed how different it was to the UK marathons, where a handful of spectators and a few cows watched 20 or so competitors trudge around country lanes.

After several weeks of listening to these stories, John Disley (who won 3000m steeplechase bronze at the 1952 Olympic Games) and Chris Brasher (who won 3000m steeplechase gold at the 1956 Olympic Games) decided to see the New York Marathon for themselves. They did some training and entered the 1979 race.

The pair ran, finished, and witnessed how wonderful a ‘city mass marathon’ could be. With world famous sights, cheering spectators, and the camaraderie of the runners all around, they found the event exhilarating.

On returning home, Brasher wrote an article for The Observer called ‘The World’s Most Human Race’ and this is how it started:

“To believe this story you must believe that the human race can be one joyous family, working together, laughing together, and achieving the impossible. Last Sunday, 11,532 men and women from 40 countries in the world, assisted by over a million people, laughed, cheered and suffered during the greatest folk festival the world has seen.”

can London do this?

Brasher ended the article by wondering “whether London could stage such a festival? We have the course, a magnificent course … but do we have the heart and hospitality to welcome the world?”

The pros and cons of a marathon were discussed and it was agreed that the idea was worth pursuing. The difficulty came in persuading the police that 26 miles of road could be closed off for a marathon without causing London to shut down completely.

A couple of weeks later, Disley presented a course design that used the Thames as a ‘handrail’, while only closing two bridges. One of those, Tower Bridge, was often shut on Sundays anyway. The police approved the event and the tourist board were happy the course passed so many of London’s sights – Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, the Docks, The Embankment, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

However, there was one condition from Sir Horace Cutler, the chairman of the Greater London Council, who told Brasher and Disley: “You should never ask the ratepayers to bail you out.”

Later that year Brasher travelled to America, where the 1970s running boom had started. He witnessed the Boston Marathon and revisited New York to discuss finance and organisation.

On his return, a budget was prepared for the first London Marathon with an expenditure of £75,000 over and above any revenue expected from entry fees. This was serious money, which even second mortgages on Brasher’s and Disley’s houses wouldn’t meet.

sponsorship for the marathon

Fortune smiled on the enterprise when Gillette gave up their sponsorship of cricket’s Gillette Cup. The company asked their agents, West Nally, for advice on what to sponsor next. Peter West told them two young Olympic medallists were putting on a marathon and needed help. A deal was done and Gillette became the Marathon’s first title sponsor. The deal was worth £75,000 a year for three years.

six aims of the London marathon

Charitable status was established for the event, and Brasher and Disley devised six aims for the London Marathon:

  • To improve the overall standard and status of British marathon running by providing a fast course and strong international competition.
  • To show mankind that, on occasions, they can be united.
  • To raise money for sporting and recreational facilities in London.
  • To help boost London’s tourism.
  • To prove that ‘Britain is best’ when it comes to organising major events.
  • To have fun, and provide some happiness and sense of achievement in a troubled world.

the first race

Five months later, on 29 March 1981, the first race was held. Some 20,000 people wanted to run. 7,747 were accepted. There were 6,255 finishers, led home by the American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, who staged a spectacular dead heat at the rain-swept finish on Constitution Hill. Joyce Smith, 43 years old and mother of two, broke the British record to win the women’s race.

The event was a massive hit with the runners, the thousands of spectators who lined the course, and viewers who followed the race on the BBC. As a result, the 1982 race received more than 90,000 applications from hopeful runners around the world. The entry was limited to 18,059.

The race has grown in size, stature and popularity ever since. Now established among the major events in the sporting calendar, the London Marathon is shown on television in nearly 200 countries around the world.

London marathon course

Apart from the finish, the London Marathon course hasn’t changed much in its 32 year history. The first London Marathon finished on Constitution Hill between Green Park and Buckingham Palace, then from 1982 until 1993 the race finished on Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament in the background. But in 1994 repair work to the bridge meant the finish line was moved to The Mall where it has been ever since. In 2005 the course was altered slightly at 22 miles to avoid the cobbled area near the Tower of London, and that year the route around the Isle of Dogs between 14 and 21 miles was switched from a clockwise to an anti-clockwise direction. In 2015 part of the course changed in the Canary Wharf area due to building works.

Over one million runners have completed the London Marathon (1981 to 2016), while a record 39,140 people finished in 2016.

Source: www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com

Foods to fight constipation

Constipation isn’t exactly a conversation starter or discussion piece in everyday life. But when it’s something you’re dealing with, it becomes top of mind.

“Constipation happens when bowel movements pass too slowly through the digestive tract, allowing more water to be absorbed and hardening the stool,” says Joshua Russell, M.D., of Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care.

And while there are a handful of remedies for this frustratingly uncomfortable problem, choosing the right one can be overwhelming.

“Most patients with mild constipation will benefit from ‘bulk-forming agents’ such as dietary fibre, in addition to increasing water intake,” says gastroenterology specialist Andy Barnett, M.D. However, these might not always be sufficient, Barnett says, meaning it might be time to take something.

However before your start reaching for laxatives it is a good idea to look at your diet and make sure you are eating and drinking the right things.

To help push food through the intestinal tract, you need to make sure you are consuming a diet rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre, and that you are drinking plenty of water.

Here are 10 fibre rich foods that you should be consuming on a regular basis to ensure a good healthy daily bowel movement.



This group of veggies, which include beans, lentils, and peas, is full of natural fibre and a good non animal source of protein. One serving a day can provide between 6-15grams of fibre. Add them to soups stews and salads.  Either sprout them or soak over-night to help digest them and reduce getting wind and bloating.



Very much a super food, broccoli is abundant in essential vitamins, protein, and fibre.  Eating plenty of vegetables is essential to good digestive health, says Sam. Add a portion (a handful) of cooked broccoli to any lunch or dinner for an additional five and a half grams of fibre.



Oats are full of soluble fibre which helps dissolve water, softening stool and making it easier for it to pass through the intestines. They also contain insoluble fibre, which increases stool bulk and helps get everything moving.  We recommend three servings of whole grains in your diet every day, especially “intact grains” like oats and brown rice.



Want to add some green to your pasta? Throw in a large handful of spinach. It’s full of fibre (one serving of cooked spinach has four grams) and contains magnesium a mineral that relaxes muscles and can aid in moving things along.



Include a handful of nuts like pistachios, peanuts, almonds, or walnuts in your diet every day. Toss them into your yogurt, salad, or just munch on them as a midday snack for a fibre boost. While they’re a great source of good fats and protein, 170 grams of whole almonds also gives you almost nine grams of fibre. For those of you who find nuts hard to digest, soak them overnight and crisp up in the oven.



Flaxseeds and chia seeds are an easy way to add more fibre into your diet. Two tablespoons of chia seeds pack an extra five grams of fibre, while the same amount of ground flaxseeds adds about four grams.  Try sprinkling a spoonful of each in to your porridge, yogurt, and smoothie or use it as a salad topping.



Berries are always in the spotlight due to their high levels of antioxidants, but the tiny seeds in raspberries, strawberries and blackberries provide a good source of fibre. 170grams of mixed berries yield four grams. Use them in your cereal, with buckwheat pancakes or Greek yoghurt.



Pears are one of the most fibrous fruits, one medium sized pear with skin will give you five and a half grams of fibre which is almost a quarter of the recommended daily intake. Use in the same way you would berries i.e. in cereal and with yoghurt or on their own as a mid-afternoon snack. Combine with a handful of nuts to slow down the absorption of the natural sugar and keep blood sugar levels balanced.



A small apple with the skin on it contains 3.6 grams of fibre. The peel of this and many other fruits contain insoluble fibre, which doesn’t get broken down but helps to bulk up the stool.



A word of caution regarding dried fruit, although rich in fibre, 170grams contains 6 grams, be mindful that it is very high in sugar and therefore is better eaten once it has been soaked overnight. This will reconstitute it and as water is added it will lower the glycaemic load on the body and not create problems with blood sugar balance.


While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s making you constipated having seen many food diaries in clinic, we believe it tends to be where the diet includes a moderate amount of processed foods usually the sweet variety and a low level of fibre together with a lack of drinking water. Couple this together with a stressed and busy lifestyle, it’s not long before the digestive system gets sluggish and problems occur.

If you want to have a good healthy daily bowel movement, you need to consume enough fruits, vegetables, and water. But if you change your diet and you’re still having problems, it may be time to investigate further. If you notice dark blood in your stools or changes you are concerned about, it is always best to consult your GP.