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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, the roads are repaired, new hoardings 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. From around 9am, people begin to take their positions along the route, the grey skies and cold wind ensured that many of the spectators were well wrapped up . 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.
The elite wheelchair races are the first to start and finish and they raced around the Island at great speed, American Daniel Romanchuk won the men’s wheelchair race with Switzerland’s Marcel Hug second and Japan’s Tomoki Suzuki third.
Switzerland’s Manuela Schar easily won the women’s wheelchair race ahead of four-time winner Tatyana McFadden and last year’s champion Madison de Rozario.
Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, 25, became the youngest female London winner with last years winner Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot second, Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje of Ethiopia third and Great Britain’s Charlotte Purdue finished a creditable tenth place.
The men’s race was another win for Kenya with Eliud Kipchoge, Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun finished second and third. Britain’s Mo Farah finished fifth and Callum Hawkins tenth.
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, the amount raised by the London Marathon has now passed £1bn.
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.
Daniel Wanjiru leads some of the greatest distance runners ever, Olympic gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge will be on the start line alongside Britain’s multiple world and Olympic track champion Mo Farah. Other runners include Wilson Kipsang, Mosinet Geremew, Leul Gebresilasie, Tamirat Tola, Mule Wasihun and Tola Shura Kitata British runners include Callum Hawkins, Tsegai Tewelde, Jonny Mellor and Dewi Griffiths.
The women’s elite race is just as competitive, with Mary Keitany, Birhane Dibaba, Gladys Cherono, Vivian Cheruiyot, Brigid Kosgei, Roza Dereje and Haftamnesh Tesfay. Charlotte Purdue, Tracy Barlow and Lily Partridge will be the main British hopes.
This year’s London Marathon will host the 2019 World Para Athletics world championship marathon races, it includes five races for para athletes – three for ambulant runners and two for wheelchair racers. As well as winning World Championship medals, athletes in these races can also earn places on their nation’s teams for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The top four athletes in each medal event will win a place at Tokyo 2020.
British defending champion in the men’s T54 wheelchair race, David Weir pushes for his ninth London title against Marcel Hug and Daniel Romanchuk. Manuel Schär is the woman to beat in the women’s race with London champion Madison de Rozario and world champion Tatyana McFadden.
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 DLR 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 and Novotel 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 over 200 shops, bars and restaurants.
The race then goes out to Poplar and Limehouse 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 do not miss any excitement, here is the time guide.
Good luck to everyone taking part in the race and everyone who contributes to one of London’s greatest sporting events.