Then and now. What, where, when and how it came to be the World's Most Famous Fundraising Event.

The London Marathon is a world famous event that happens on our doorsteps every year and yet when you ask yourself what you know about the Marathon, most of us will have little knowledge behind the whys and wherefores of it. After recently receiving my first ever place in the London Marathon I thought it best to gather the facts!

It was the 23rd April this year when I woke up and headed to the kitchen- turned on the TV to see thousands upon thousands of colourful people filling the streets in Greenwich to begin the Virgin London Marathon. And I got that same feeling I get every year- why have I let another year pass and not signed up to take part in what looks like the most incredible day of charitable and sporting participation?! Granted I am probably one of few spectators who watched and thought I wish I was there running too! But after this very Sunday of April 2017 I vowed I would not let it happen again - that feeling of agitation and disappointment that I've not even attempted to take part in an a race for not one- but so many amazing causes worldwide! And that was that. I was going to apply.

I mentioned to friends- one in particular who has run it twice- she was keen to do it again, as were all of my other novice Marathon friends and it quickly became a team of us applying for the 2018 ballot!

We joked and laughed about all 5 of us running together, the training and carb loading all discussed over teas and dinners out.

Then came October 2nd 2017. I got a letter in the post- 'Congratulations! This is your acceptance letter into the Virgin London Marathon 2018'. I was speechless. Nervous. Excited. Shocked.

Immediately I looked up the applicant numbers - 386,050 applicants and around 50,000 will be accepted. My expert math’s tells me that's around a 13% chance. And I did it. Granted, I had done NOTHING but simply applied like everyone else. But I had a place. The excitement was (and still is!) unimaginable!

Across the course of the week it came about that none of my other keen friends had got a place and it quickly became a solitary pursuit to the 26.2-mile feat.

On reading the acceptance magazine and looking at all the champions of this incredible race, it occurred to me how naive I am to be so clueless about what the Marathon is all about, and how it began, why it began, where has this super famous sporting event come from!

So, here's what I found...

The Marathon has been around for 36 years and it all started in 1981 with 2 gentleman called John Disley and Chris Brasher, who were avid runners themselves.

In 1979, the 2 men decided to take on the New York Marathon after many long debates about why UK marathons just don’t have the same buzz as those overseas.

At this point, over 11,000 people participated in the New York Marathon and then men were astounded at not only the challenge by the outstanding spectator support and they realized that London certainly had the capacity to do something similar and took it into their own hands to contact relevant parties.

Ironically, and very typical to the fast paced lifestyle of London, the initial concern was the disruption that would be caused in closing 26 miles of road. But this was eventually overcome as a minor detail and the men continued in their pursuit!

The original budget deal of £75,000 was agreed with Gillette who became the first ever title sponsor of The London Marathon and this was agreed for 3 years.

Disley and Brasher wanted to prove that London was and is amazing and that Britain will always be the best at organizing major events- their sights were set high but they had all the tools to make it possible!

They wanted the route to be spellbinding and more incredible that what they had seen in New York; and certainly London had the resources to provide this. So they started at Windsor Castle, with the Royal Family in full view, with a similar finish line at the White City Stadium where the Royals would meet the finishers from their royal box. This distance worked perfectly to cover the 26.2 miles- a distance that once was 25, but London Olympics of 1908 routed the Olympic marathon along this route and needed the extra 1.2 miles to have these desired start and finish locations!

So London put a benchmark on the new official Marathon distance, and the rest of the world followed suit.

Brasher and Disley were all set for the big event and it came around with much organization and financial implications- but they did it, and it was the start of something incredible.

29th March 1981 saw the first London Marathon were 7,747 people ran out of 20,000 applicants. 6,255 people finished and a 43-year-old mother won the women’s race.

The second year saw a huge boom in numbers with 90,000 applicants and 18,059 runners.

36 years on we see the London marathon as one of the world’s biggest sporting events and is recognized worldwide as one of the most prestigious events to be part of.

Comparatively, 23rd March 2016 saw the entry of 247,069 applications and this number grew even more for this year at 386,050. Huge numbers with incredible stories behind every runner!

Over the years it has run, this event has raised over £770 million pounds for numerous charities with this figure growing even more year on year. This makes the events the largest annual fundraising event in the world.

And there is in fact one group who has completed the London Marathon since its birth. The team is called the Ever Presents and of the original 42 who ran together, only 12 are left and continue running.

And in 2018, the one millionth runner is due to cross the finish line… you never know, it could be me! I will be running in support of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in the elderly and would love as much support as possible. This is a condition very close to my heart and will post another blog soon to tell the story!