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Every year, thousands of marathon runners make their way around Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs in the London Marathon. The marathon is an event with global interest and the organisers of The Big Half are hoping their brand new event will become as popular.
The route for The Big Half started by Tower Bridge by the Tower of London and went east to Canary Wharf before doubling back to cross Tower Bridge and follow the river to finish in Greenwich.
Remarkably after the considerable snow and bad weather, it was bright sunshine as the runners made their way around Canary Wharf. There was real doubts whether the event would go ahead after the terrible weather and the small crowds perhaps reflected some of the uncertainty.
Amongst the elite runners were multi gold medal winner, Sir Mo Farah, Callum Hawkins and Daniel Wanjiru from Kenya.
The elite women included Alyson Dixon , Sonia Samuels, Charlotte Purdue and Lily Partridge.
Unlike the London Marathon, the club and fun runners in the Big Half arrived in Canary Wharf quite early in the race and were in good spirits and full of energy.
The organisers behind the Big Half, hope the event will become a brand-new world-class mass participation event, featuring the half marathon (13.1 miles) and other events. They hope the event will show how sport and community can come together to improve health and wellbeing.
The Big Relay part of the event is exclusively open to community groups from the host boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich whose runners will run in teams of four, each person will run one leg of The Big Relay – over distances ranging from one mile to five miles.
The Little Half: a fun, family friendly mass participation event that was due to take place over a 2.4 mile course was unfortunately cancelled this year because of the weather.
However, The Big Festival in Greenwich with a huge range of food, music and entertainment is due to go ahead.
Due the weather, the Big Half was quite low key but with normal weather conditions in the future, the event will hopefully go from strength to strength and showcase some of the delights of Southwark, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich .
It was expected over 40,000 runners were to attempt the London Marathon and from early morning, thousands descended on the Isle of Dogs to get in place to support their runners in the field.
Marathon day is quite a surreal occasion with lots of people visiting the Island for the first time and generally getting lost in the often confusing layout. This is especially the case around Canary Wharf with the massive building works complicating the matters considerably.
The Marathon on the Isle of Dogs begins with the arrival of the Male wheelchair races, the closely packed field raced around the Island with Britain’s David Weir and reigning champion Marcel Hug in the leading pack. Weir managed to win the race beating Hug and Rafael Botello Jimenez in third.
Next was the Women wheelchair race with Swiss Manuela Schar eventually beating American’s Amanda McGrory and Susannah Scaroni .
One of the most remarkable races was the Elite women’s race with Kenya’s Mary Keitany having a long lead when she reached the Island and finishing with a World Record of 02:17:01, Tirunesh Dibaba and Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia finished second and third.
There was a surprise in the men’s elite race with Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru beating track legend Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia with fellow Kenyan Bedan Karoki finishing his first marathon in third.
The elite races are just one part of the marathon day with thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy dress costume wearers pounding their way around the Island.
Coming between the 15 and 18 mile points, the Island is not a popular spot for many marathon runners who begin to struggle at these particular points. However because the crowds are not quite so big, this section is popular for families and friends to congregate to shout encouragement to their particular runners.
In 2016, the London Marathon raised £59.4 million for charity and many of the runners will have personal reasons for facing the gruelling distance. Local Islanders have supported the Marathon since its beginning and still turn out in numbers to cheer on the runners on their way.
Congratulations to all those involved in putting on and taking part in one of London’s premier events which is watched live by millions and has a massive global audience.
I was delighted to receive a piece about the London Marathon by contributor, Dawn Wedajo which helps to explain why the event is so special. In many ways it brings people together to offer encouragement to the thousands who are running for a variety of reasons and causes. Runners enter the Island at around 15 miles and depart at around 19 miles, for many runners this can be a time of real struggle and they tend to need some encouragement. This post also gives me the opportunity to feature some of these runners who are an inspiration for the many thousands that watch the race each year.
Sunday morning, the temperature was fairly cool although better than what had been forecast. I managed to bag myself a great vantage point along with many others on the East Ferry road. I could hear the rumble of trains in the background even amongst the lively chatter in the crowd.
More and more people began to arrive and the atmosphere began to build. Families, couples and friends. Some of the younger children held plastic batons and as the athletes came into view the batons were used to make as much noise as possible to spur the runners on their way. Others munched on burgers and ice cream as they watched even though it wasn’t a particularly warm day.
I often feel humbled and inspired after watching the London Marathon 2016. It was fantastic to see so many individuals of all ages and abilities running, for me that’s the beauty of witnessing this incredible event up close and personal. Seeing amazing elite athletes as well as fun runners just makes this day a bit more special and memorable.
Another important aspect of the event is that it brings out a sense of community. The crowds yell their support for athletes with enthusiasm, encouraging words, loud applause and rapturous cheers.
From time to time the sun made brief appearances from behind thick grey clouds. Still, the runners kept coming, many tired, some slowed their pace considerably others were exhilarated but collectively all were focused on completing all twenty-six gruelling miles to reach the finish line.
I’m not much of a runner myself but I was inspired never the less. Who knows next year It could be my turn.
Many thanks to Dawn for her contribution and congratulations to all who took part in the London Marathon.
The Isle of Dogs is thrust into the national and international spotlight once a year with the arrival of the London Marathon. In the week before the race, new boardings appear on the roadside and metal barriers arrive to be placed along the route.
On the morning of the race, volunteers and charities take their spots along the route in eager anticipation of yet another carnival of running. People were not deterred by the icy cold blasts and the threat of snow and began to take their positions along the route . The spectators on the west of the Island have the benefit of watching the runners going down Westferry Road and returning via Marsh Wall before the runners head into Canary Wharf.
A Choir on Marsh Wall
The elite wheelchair races are the first to start and finish and when they raced around the Island, the eventual winner Marcel Hug from Switzerland, Australian Kurt Fearnley who was second and six-time London winner and local favourite David Weir who finished third were all in close contention.
America’s Tatyana McFadden continued her domination in the women’s elite wheelchair race winning the race for a fourth consecutive year. McFadden beat Manuela Schar of Switzerland with Wakako Tsuchida of Japan third.
The drama continued with Kenyan Jemima Sumgong winning the race after earlier suffering a fall at a drink station. Sumgong pulled clear of last years winner Ethiopia’s Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia with Florence Kiplagat of Kenya third.
The men’s race was another win for Kenya with Eliud Kipchoge racing to a new course record of two hours, three minutes and four seconds which was only about seven seconds outside the world record. Stanley Biwott of Kenya was second and Kenenisa Bekele third in one of the quickest London Marathons ever.
After the elite races, the crowds on the Island get bigger with family and friends of the runners of the mass race taking their places along the route, other spectators come out in large numbers to offer support to the runners who face their own particular challenges, it is the mix of serious runners, celebrities, fancy dress runners and fun runners make the marathon the great success it is. Many of the runners run for their favourite charity and since 1981, competitors in the race have raised nearly 58 million pounds for various charities.
Eventually the large mass of runners dwindle down to smaller groups and spectators begin to drift away, the noise and excitement of the big day is replaced by quietness with the occasional lorry appearing on the course to take down various structures and the cleaning department picking up the tons of litter.
Congratulations to all those who took part and all the volunteers who make the London Marathon, the special event it is.
It is safe to say that although Canary Wharf is often in the news, the rest of the Isle of Dogs is seldom the focus of national and international interest. However this always changes on the day of the London Marathon when the normally quiet streets are filled by thousands of runners and thousands of spectators.
The race tends to attract the world’s greatest men and women marathon runners and this year is no exception. 2015 champion Eliud Kipchoge takes on 2014 champion Wilson Kipsang when the two Kenyans head a strong field at the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 24 April.
Kipchoge, Kipsang, Dennis Kimetto and Stanley Biwott head a strong Kenyan team in pursuit of Marathon glory and Rio 2016 Olympic places. The Kenyans will not have it all their own way with Ethiopia’s triple Olympic gold medallist, Kenenisa Bekele, and Eritrea’s hero from the Beijing World Championships, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie in the field.
In the women’s elite race, Tigist Tufa will return to the scene of her greatest triumph when she lines up to defend her Virgin Money London Marathon title. Mary Keitany was denied a third London Marathon victory last year and the Kenyan looks set to be Tufa’s main rival again in 2016. Dibaba, Cherono and Florence Kiplagat will also be in a strong field.
No fewer than 13 Britons are set to line up in the race with the hope of securing a place on Team GB’s For Rio. Londoner Scott Overall and Scot Callum Hawkins have already beaten the Olympic qualifying time and need to be in the first two Britons across the line to guarantee a ticket to South America.
Two unusual features of this year’s race is Tim Peake will be running the course in Space and a runner will cross the finish line in The Mall at the end of the Virgin Money London Marathon to become the millionth finisher in the history of the event.
However, for many people the race is a personal challenge and an opportunity to raise considerable amounts for their particular charities. The large number of fancy dress runners add to the carnival aspect of the race.
Due to the fact that many people may be unfamiliar with the Isle of Dogs I thought I would do a mini guide to the Isle of Dogs.
The race enters the Island at Mile 15 when it comes onto Westferry Road , this is a long road down the side of the west side of the Island. Lots of shops and a few pubs here and most of the spectators will be locals.
Just before Mile 16 you will pass the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre which leads into the Millwall Docks and is often filled with small yachts overlooked by the old cranes standing next to the dock.
The sweep around the bottom of the Island takes you near Island Gardens which has wonderful views of Greenwich and the river. Here is also the entrance and exit of the Greenwich foot tunnel.
Going up the East Ferry Road to mile 17 you will see the greenery of Millwall Park on the right and the Mudchute DLR on the left.
Just past Mudchute you will see the entrance to Mudchute Farm and Park ,one of the biggest inner city farms in Europe.
A little further on you have Asda on the right and Crossharbour DLR on the left, then the route takes you further up to Limeharbour adjacent to Millwall Dock and then onto Marsh Wall.
A short run down along Marsh Wall to South Quay DLR, is followed by a run past the International Hotel to mile 18, there is a quick switchback into the Canary Wharf estate for Mile 19.
Canary Wharf has become a popular watching base for many spectators due to its proximity to the transport system and the over 200 shop, bars and restaurants.
The race then goes out to Poplar to begin the long stretch home.
Some of the benefits of watching the Marathon on the Isle of Dogs is that you can actually watch in comfort rather than being part of the massive crowds in Greenwich and Tower Bridge. You also have easy access to the transport system and access to many pubs, bars and restaurants.
To make sure you are in the right place at the right time here is rough time guide .
The wheelchair race starts at 08.55 am
The elite women’s field: 9.15am
Elite men and mass start: 10.00am
At Mile 15 (Westferry)
Wheelchair men 09:46 Wheelchair women 09:55
Elite women 10:35 Elite men 11:11
Mass begins 11:21
At Mile 17 (Mudchute )
Approximate times when pass Mudchute
Wheelchairs 9:53 (men), 10:03 (women);
Elite women from 10:45
Elite men from 11:21
The masses from 12:26.
At Mile 19 (Canary Wharf)
Approximate times when pass Canary Wharf
Wheelchairs 10:03 (men), 10:11 (women);
Elite women from 10:56
Elite men from 11:30
The masses from 12:46.
East London has a remarkable record of producing sporting greats in the past, however the Canary Wharf Group has recently launched its annual Sports Personality of the Year Awards to search for the current top sporting talent in our East London community.
The prize winners win cash prizes and trophies within the following categories:
The Canary Wharf Sports Personality of the Year
Senior Sports Team of the Year
Junior Sports Team of the Year
Sports Group of the Year
The Voluntary Sports Commitment Award
Previous winners of the Canary Wharf Sports Personality of the Year Award
2014 Mercy Brown – Weightlifting
2013 Tyesha Mattis – Gymnastics
2012 Scarlett Mew Jensen – Diving
2011 Ashley Facey Thompson – Table Tennis
2010 Lucas Taylor – Tennis
2009 Nathan Hanson – Athletics
2008 Ricky Lee Turner – Judo
2007 Soyfur Rahman – Taekwondo
2006 Sally Hoang – Table Tennis
2005 Perri Shakes Drayton – Athletics
2004 Aaron Edwards – Cheerleading
2003 Halil Zorba – Weightlifting
2002 Dervis Konuralph – Swimming
2001 Symone Belle – Athletics
The awards are asking for nominations from members of the public for deserving local athletes, sports clubs and administrators for their achievements in the previous 12 months. Applications will be considered from Tower Hamlets and each of the boroughs surrounding it, including Hackney, Newham, Greenwich and Barking & Dagenham.
Entries close on the 18th December 2015.
The 2012 Olympics provided a major boost for East London sport but away from all the glamour, it is often unsung hard work of the athletes, sports clubs and administrators that keeps the various sports going. It is this hard work that these awards celebrate, so if you wish to nominate someone, you can find the nomination form here.
Regular readers will know that Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs reach national and international prominence when the London Marathon winds its way through the streets. Another sporting event arrived in Canary Wharf today with the cycle section in the London Triathlon.
The main section of the Triathlon is taking place at ExCel Exhibition centre and in the Royal Docks. Triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports and up to 13,000 triathletes were expected to take part in the London Triathlon making it the world’s largest triathlon.
Part of the appeal of the event is that caters for all ages and abilities. There is also a wide variety of distances to try.
Distances: 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5k run
Distances: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5k run
Distances: 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10k run
Distances: 1.5km swim, 80km bike, 10k run
Distances: Sprint – 750m swim, 20km bike, 5k run or Olympic
– 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10k run
Distances: Olympic – 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10k run
Distances: 750m swim, 26k bike, 5k run
Youth Super Sprint
Distances: 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5k run
If you are around Canary Wharf, why not give the triathletes some support as they cycle around the course.