It has been announced that HM Queen Elizabeth II will be the official starter for the London Marathon, on Sunday April 22nd. However, the Queen will not be in London but on a special podium in Windsor Great Park with the image beamed directly to large screens at 10:00am, the official start of the marathon in Blackheath, London. Sending around 40,000 runners on their way for the 26.2-mile trip to the finish on The Mall.
The start in Windsor Great Park, has a connection with the Olympics, but rather than those in 2012 it was, in fact, the 1908 Olympics in London, where the marathon was started by HM The Queen’s grandmother, Princess Mary from a podium in Windsor Great Park. The runners then ran from the Great Park to a finish on The Mall. But in order to have the finish outside Buckingham Palace, the race was made to be 26.2 miles, which was made the official Marathon distance in 1924, and remains so to this day.
The Marathon takes it name historically according to myth and legend from the run made by a messenger, Pheidippides, from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to tell of a Greek victory, in around 490BC. The distance between Marathon and Athens is actually 25 miles (40km), and for the initial marathons, the distance was around that figure depending on the distance between two appropriate places the organisers decided to use.
The London Marathon has been held since 1981 and has a mixture of elite, club and fun runners who each year raise thousands of pounds for individual charities. It was created by Chris Brasher, a former Olympic champion and John Disley, since its inception it has raised £450 million and counting, the 2009 event is in the Guinness Book of Records after £47.2 million was raised through sponsorship. Through the years many celebrities have also run the raise, including celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsey and Bernie Clifton who did the course in his ostrich costume.