The M40, or the Marine Corps Marathon, is one of the biggest marathons in the world. Started in 1973, it is also one of the most prestigious ones. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world participate in this race which is held in London every October.
If you’ve never heard of it, you might wonder how to prepare for a race that takes place over a distance of 26.2 miles (42km). The M40 is an elite race for anyone who wants to take on the hilly course that winds through London twice. While the standard marathon covers the whole length of a city, the M40 only runs through its suburbia.
If you’re looking for a real challenge, you can’t miss out on the opportunity to participate in the M40. However, if you are looking for a more relaxed and leisurely experience, you can take on the standard marathon and save the M40 for another day.
The History Of The M40
The story of The M40 goes back to 1973 when its first race was held. Since then, the event has grown to become one of the highlights of the sporting calendar. In 2019, there were more than 400,000 participants, making it the largest marathon in the world. Now, let’s take a quick look at the history of this incredible sporting event.
The Early Years
The M40 was founded in the United Kingdom and is therefore also known as the UK Championship. The first race was held in 1973 and the following years saw multiple competitions held throughout the country. In 1979, the race was moved to London and has remained there ever since. The first million-to-winners’ medal was presented in 1980 and this award has been given out ever since. The first official photograph of the winner was also taken at this time. Since then, the event has grown to become one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
Marquise And Cushnie Meet
In 1981, the race was renamed the British Championship and was split into two separate races, the 21-mile (34km) and the 12-mile (19km) races. These were later combined to form the current 26.2-mile (42km) M40. The race starts and ends in London, but the distance between the two varies from year to year. The 21-mile race was introduced to mark the British engagement in the Afghan War, while the Cushnie spaniel was named after the late Sir John Cushnie who was instrumental in setting the race up. A race that started as a sporting event for the public turned into a charity football match after Sir John Cushnie died, and it continues to raise funds for charity to this day.
The Famous Paddington Bear
Paddington Bear is one of the most recognizable characters from the popular children’s books written by William Heinesen. Since their inception, the marathons have featured a number of unofficial mascots which are supported by lottery funds and donations from local businesses. In 1998, Paddington was chosen to be the official mascot for the M40 and the following year he became the face of the event, appearing on posters, hats and shirts. Paddington has since then appeared at every single M40 and the support shown by participants and spectators has made him arguably the most popular mascot in the history of the event. In 2019, Paddington was given his own Instagram account and every week he posts a new drawing or a cartoon featuring himself and other famous bears from A-Z.
The Queen’s Baton
In 1983, Elizabeth II was presented with the Queen’s Baton for her Golden Jubilee. Her Majesty has taken part in all of the London marathons since, except for one in 1995 which was her last appearance. In 2018, the Baton was stolen ahead of the race but was recovered just in time. The race organizers and the police appealed for help and within 10 minutes a man called James Heath was identified as the culprit. He was subsequently arrested and charged with theft.
The Changing Face Of The M40
Over the years, the M40 has seen multiple changes to keep up with the times. In 1993, the race switched to a city-centre course which made it much easier to follow. However, this also meant that the event began running through some of London’s most prestigious and historic neighborhoods. In 1995, the event was shortened to 24 miles (38km) because of fears of a terrorist attack. The organizers changed the name to the Metro-London Marathon due to Olympic Games sponsorships. The following year, the Metro-London Marathon merged with the M40 to form the present-day M40. The organizers then renamed the main event to the United Kingdom Championship. In 2018, the race moved to a countryside course and was rebranded as the English International Marathon.
The Layout Of The M40
You might be wondering where to start and how to prepare for this unique sporting event. Well, the M40 is most recognizable for its corrugated metal huts that give it that unique industrial aesthetic. The huts are situated along the route and are there to provide aid to competitors and spectators alike. There are also several food and drink stations along the route, making it one of the better feeding sports events out there. There are also plenty of port-a-potties on-site for those who finished the race and want to avoid wetting themselves. However, the most distinguishing feature of the M40 is its start and finish line inside Wembley Stadium. This is where the actual race takes place and where thousands of people in finery line up to cheer on their favorite runners. In 2020, due to the pandemic, the race was moved to a virtual start and a virtual finish. However, the start line was kept the same and the cheering section was filled with performers wearing masks.
The Weather In London
You might not want to miss out on the spectacular British weather, especially if you are from the temperate regions where it usually doesn’t rain that much. But just because it’s not raining doesn’t mean that the air is any good; you need to know the right way to warm up in style.
So let’s take a look at the temperature in London. While you might expect an October day in Britain’s capital city to be rather chilly, the temperatures often reach the high 20s or low 30s. But the best part is that the temperatures stay rather constant, rarely rising above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) and rarely falling below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees Celsius). This makes London a great city for running and the perfect place to train for the M40. There aren’t many races where you can train in the comfort of your living room, due to the unpredictable British weather!
If you live in a country where it rarely rains and the weather stays the same all year long, consider moving to England if you are looking for an adventurous lifestyle. You won’t regret it.
The first thing you’ll want to do before taking on the M40 is to sign up for the event. You can do this online or at the race’s registration desk when you arrive at Wembley Stadium. A few days before the race, you’ll receive a race pack with a number on it. This is the number you’ll need to use when volunteering at one of the aid stations. As mentioned above, the distance between the start and finish line is 26.2 miles (42km). At the end of each mile, you’ll find a wooden mile marker. The markers are easy to spot and are well-signed along the whole course. The second thing you’ll need to do is take into account the time difference between your home and England. For example, if you’re from New York and the course is 6 am to 2 pm, you’ll need to add an hour to your normal schedule. Don’t worry, the M40 organizers do this automatically for you.
The Health Issues
While the M40 is one of the biggest, if not the biggest marathon in the world, it’s not exactly an easy race. If you’re looking for an easier race, you might want to skip this one because of the twice-around-London aspect. But if you’re looking for a real challenge, the M40 is the one for you.
The first thing you’ll need to do is check the rules. Every year, a lot of people who have never run a marathon get disqualified for not having a number. The good news is that you don’t need to have previous experience to join the race. Simply fill out the registration form and pay the fees. Once you’re all set, have fun preparing for the biggest sporting event in the country…and maybe the world!