London Marathon

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The London Marathon is one of the biggest running events in the world,[1] and is one of the five top world marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors competition which has a $1 million prize purse.[2] It has been held each spring in London since 1981. The race is currently sponsored by Virgin Money, as the Virgin London Marathon. Previously the event was sponsored by Flora (from 1996 to 2009). The 2010 London Marathon took place in April 2010. The 2011 London Marathon, the thirty-first race, will take place on Sunday, 17 April 2011.

The race was founded by the former Olympic champion and renowned journalist Chris Brasher and Welsh athlete John Disley. It is organised by former 10,000m world record holder David Bedford as Race Director and Nick Bitel as Chief Executive. Set over a largely flat course around the River Thames, the race begins at three separate points around Blackheath and finishes in The Mall alongside St. James's Palace. Since the first marathon, the course has undergone very few route changes. In 1982, the finishing post was moved from Constitution Hill to Westminster Bridge due to construction works. It remained there for twelve years before moving to its present location at The Mall.

In addition to being one of the top five international marathons run over the traditional distance of 42.195 km (26 miles and 385 yards), the London Marathon is also a large, celebratory sporting festival, second only to the Great North Run in Newcastle, in terms of the number of participants. The event has raised over £450 million for charity since 1981,[3][4] and holds the Guinness world record as the largest annual fund raising event in the world, with the 2009 participants raising over £47.2 million for charity.[5] In 2007, 78% of all runners raised money. In 2011 the official charity of the London Marathon is Oxfam.[6]

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