The Virgin London Marathon takes place this Sunday and you can follow all the action as it happens with comprehensive coverage across the BBC.
The 32nd staging of the one of the world’s biggest city marathons will see elite athletes from across the globe tread the familiar path along some of the most famous streets of England’s capital city.
Alongside them will be the usual mix of club racers and thousands of fun runners, with all of them looking to complete the gruelling 26.2 mile course while raising money for charitable causes.
This year’s marathon has extra significance for the runners and the organisers in what promises to be a great year for British sport and the city of London, with the Olympics and Paralympic Games coming to our shores this summer.
All the top elite race runners will be looking to lay down an impressive marker for the Olympic marathon, which will also finish on the iconic stretch of The Mall.
For the first couple of hours on Sunday the focus will be on the elite races, all which promise to deliver some compelling action.
The men’s race has the two of the fastest marathon runners of all-time taking part, in Kenya’s Patrick Makau and Wilson Kipsang,
Both of them will be looking to beat their fellow countryman and defending champion Emmanuel Mutai, who returns to defend his title having broken the course record last year.
The women’s race boasts world champion Edna Kiplagat, defending champion Mary Keitany and Florence Kiplagat, the Kenyan who beat Paula Radcliffe to win in Berlin last Autumn.
In the elite men’s wheelchair race, Britain’s David Weir will defend his title and is aiming to equal the great Tanni Grey Thompson’s record of six London Marathon victories.
American Amanda McGrory is also looking to defend her title in the women’s wheelchair race, having smashed the women’s course record last year to regain the crown she first won in 2009.
There also promises to be a fierce domestic battle for the final places on the British Olympic and Paralympic teams.
Behind the elite competitors, an estimated 35,000 runners will take part in the mass race and follow the route to the finish on The Mall.
All the mass runners have their own reason for taking part, whether it be to raise as much money as possible for their chosen charity, or to fulfill a lifetime ambition of completing one of the world’s most famous marathons.
A host of famous sporting faces and broadcasting personalities will be taking part in this year’s event to fundraise for their chosen charities.
They include BBC football commentator Jonathan Pearce (The Lily Foundation), Sky Sports News host Charlie Webster (Women’s Aid), ITV rugby presenter Craig Doyle (Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research), and BBC newsreaders Susanna Reid (Sport Relief) and Sophie Raworth (St John Ambulance).
Sporting stars taking part include England cricket coach Andy Flower (The Lord’s Taverners), two-time World Superbike champion James Toseland (CLIC Sargent), Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell (The Children’s Trust), Chrissie Wellington (Jane Tomlinson Appeal), and former Commonwealth 400m champion Iwan Thomas (Macmillan).
The BBC’s coverage will aim to tell the story of the elite athletic effort and inspirational human endeavour that makes the London Marathon such a unique event on the sporting calendar.
BBC One’s live coverage will be presented by Sue Barker, along with Jonathan Edwards.
Commentary comes from Steve Cram, Brendan Foster, Paul Dickenson and Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Roving reports and interviews from various points around the famous course will be come from Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson, Phil Jones and Sonali Shah, who will all capture some of the runner’s personal stories and the unique atmosphere of the event.
There will be additional coverage on the BBC’s Red Button service, enabling viewers to choose between viewing the men’s and women’s elite races. From 12pm, viewers can watch the finish line feed which has four different camera views of the London Marathon finish on The Mall.
Further coverage of the race finish featuring the mass runners will be shown in Marathon Extra on the BBC Red Button at 2pm, following the conclusion of the main BBC One live programme.
Viewers can send in their special messages for the runners taking part in the event via SMS, e-mail and Twitter (#bbclondonmarathon), and a selection of them will scroll across the screen at various times during the live coverage.
Highlights of the day’s events will be shown on BBC Two, presented by Jonathan Edwards, later in the day, and all of the BBC’s London Marathon coverage will be available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for seven days after the event.
BBC Radio 5 Live will also bring extensive coverage of the 2012 London Marathon, presented by John Inverdale from 8.30am.
On-course reporters Helen Skelton, George Riley and Sonja McLaughlin will provide all the interviews and reports from various points along with route.
Former British London Marathon winner Charlie Spedding provides expert commentary and analysis of the elite race.
BBC 5 Live listeners can also leave their good luck messages for runners, a selection of which will be played out on air during the live show.
BBC London has all the latest news and extensive build-up to Sunday’s events during TV news bulletins and on 94.9 FM.
.TV Schedule: LIVE – BBC One / BBC One HD – 8.30am-2pm Highlights – BBC Two / BBC HD – 5pm-6pm Race Schedule: 08:55 – Mini London Marathon (ages 11-17) 09:00 – Elite Women’s Race 09:20 – Elite Wheelchair Race (Men & Women) 09:45 – Elite Men’s Race 09:45 – UKA/England Athletics Championships (Men & Women) 09:45 – Mass Race . .