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London Landmarks Half Marathon 2023: Route, Tips And More

Runners in the London Landmarks Half Marathon
The author of this guide, Nick Harris-Fry, breaking the tape at the London Landmarks Half Marathon 2021 (Image credit: London Landmarks Half Marathon)

It wasn’t long after the first event in 2018 that the London Landmarks Half Marathon established a reputation as one of the best closed-road events in the capital as well as one of the best UK half marathons. It was one of the first to return in 2021 after the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Coach staff have run in all four editions of the race that have taken place so far, and senior writer Nick Harris-Fry even won the 2021 race, so read on for everything we’ve learned about the race, as well as tips from a pacer and other runners from past events. These half marathon tips may also come in useful and, of course, we have a range of half marathon training plans for all levels and target times.

When is the London Landmarks Half Marathon 2023?

The 2023 race takes place on Sunday 2nd April. The 2023 event is set to be the biggest ever, with the field expanded from 14,000 participants to 16,000. 

How do I enter the London Landmarks Half Marathon 2023?

Despite the larger field you still need to enter a ballot to enter the LLHM 2023. This opens on Thursday 7th July and closes on Thursday 14th July at noon. The ballot is free to enter and if you are unsuccessful you are automatically entered into a second-chance ballot that allocates any unwanted places later. In 2023 wheelchair users will be able to participate in the event for the first time.

How much does it cost to enter?

You only pay for entry if you are successful in the ballot. A place costs £59 plus a £2.50 booking fee.

Can I run for charity?

You certainly can run for charity, whether you get a place in the ballot or not. If you want to skip the draw you can sign up to run for baby charity Tommy’s, which is the LLHM’s official charity and is offering free spots to runners who pledge to raise £350 (opens in new tab).

Where does the London Landmarks Half Marathon start?

Runners start on Pall Mall near Trafalgar Square. Each wave of runners will have a recommended arrival station and a suggested route to the start area.

Are there pacers at the race?

In the past there have been 30 pacers on the course, spread across the seven waves. At the 2022 event the fastest pacer ran at 1hr 30min pace and there were three pacers in wave 7 run/walking at 3hr-plus pace. 

Is there water on the route?

The LLHM was free of plastic bottles in 2022, but there were four water stations on the route where you could pick up a paper cup of water.

The London Landmarks Half Marathon Route

Cramming 21.1km into the heart of London means a fair few twists and turns, especially since the route has been designed to pass as many landmarks as possible, so while the LLHM is reasonably fast and flat there are better races out there for PB hunters. 

You won’t get as much to look at in other races, though, and changes to the LLHM 2023 route mean it now takes in even more landmarks. Runners start next to Trafalgar Square and, after a quick jaunt up Charing Cross road to Chinatown, continue east past St Paul’s Cathedral to take in the skyscrapers of the City of London. The route at this stage is very twisty and you’ll lose all sense of direction until you get to the Tower of London at around the 16km mark, when you turn west and follow the banks of the Thames back towards Big Ben. 

Runners then head across the river on Westminster Bridge to get a good look at the London Eye, before coming back over the bridge and heading for the finish on Whitehall by Downing Street.

London Landmarks Half Marathon

(Image credit: London Landmarks Half Marathon)

If you run the race at an easier pace than normal, you’ll benefit from a range of quirky and motivational attractions the organisers have put on. There are dance acts, musicians and 350 charity cheer zones.

Training And Racing Tips From London Landmarks Half Runners

We grabbed a few of the finishers to ask them what advice they’d give to people thinking about running a half marathon. While some of the training advice may not exactly match that you’d get from a running coach (which you’ll find in our half marathon training plans), it does give you an idea of the work people put in to get round the course in something like two hours.

Give Yourself Enough Time To Train

It may not be a marathon but 21.2km is not a distance to sniff at, so it requires commitment. “Make sure you train well in advance. Leave about three months, at least,” says Luke, a sub-2hr finisher.

Include Long And Short Runs

Make sure you vary your sessions. “I did a few short runs – 5K max – in the morning during the week,” says Susan. “Then went for a longer run on the weekend. My longest run before this was 14.5km.”

And remember that you don’t have to slog it out alone. “Parkrun!” chorused Sarah, Af and David when we asked about their weekly runs. “A parkrun once a week and a distance run. Usually 10, 12 and 15km. Then work it back down again,” Af says.

Stretching – Do It

You’re doing a lot of training, give your muscles proper care. “Make sure to keep stretching and doing different exercises,” says Susan. It’ll make all the difference.

Pick The Right Start Wave

Runners in the London Landmarks Half Marathon

(Image credit: London Landmarks Half Marathon)

Think very carefully about which wave you put yourself in. “We were in a slower wave than we should have been,” says Michelle. “It was busy,” adds her friend Kirsty, “lots of people around, so we had to do a lot of weaving and moving about.” You’ll be allocated your start wave based on an estimate of your finish time, so try to answer that question as accurately and fairly as you can. Our running pace calculator should help.

Fuel Yourself

“Make sure you have a plan for what you’re going to eat on the day,” says Luke. You’ll be running for around two hours, burning roughly 100 calories per mile, so make sure to fuel yourself properly.

Don’t Go Off Too Fast

It’s easy to get excited on race day and start too quickly. “Just take it easy,” says Kirsty. “Try not to get excited at the beginning and think ‘I feel awesome, I’m going to go really fast’ because you won’t hold it and you’ll die a painful death.”

Have The Right Mentality

Here’s music to our ears. “Just train and enjoy it. You’re never going to win it, so just enjoy it and don’t worry about times,” said Ross. “Go out there and do it!”

And Believe In Yourself

“Anyone can do it. Just keep working away at it and it’ll happen,” says Julie.

– Interviews by Jake Stone

Tips From A London Landmarks Half Marathon Pacer

London Landmarks Half Marathon

(Image credit: London Landmarks Half Marathon)

We caught up with Nici Griffin from Centurion Running before the 2019 event. Griffin organised the pacers and was the tail-end pacer in both 2018 and 2019. She ran her first half marathon in 2010 and has since gone on to complete 28 marathons and four 50-mile ultramarathons. Don’t let that intimidate you though – Griffin called herself the “baby” of her ultramarathon group and said she had to remember not to compare herself with others but focus on what she’s capable of. That’s just one of many fine tips we picked up from our chat. Here are the rest of them.

Get Involved On Facebook Beforehand

Being a pacer, says Griffin, is about a lot more than just setting a pace for others to follow. “If we were told we couldn’t interact with the crowd and had to just carry a flag we wouldn’t do it. The best part is interacting with the people around you, in the start pens at the beginning, even beforehand – Facebook has been amazing for that. You get the banter going, and you get people who are going by themselves on the day feeling like they’ve got a friend – they come and look for you in the wave pens at the start.” Have a look at the comments on facebook.com/londonlandmarkshalf for starters.

Be Happy You’re Running A Race In London

“London is the most ace city for running any big race in,” says Griffin. “It’s so welcoming – the runners, the volunteers, the members of the public out there… you just get so much support.” One particular supporter stood out for Griffin in last year’s LLHM. “Last year there was a child on Embankment and he had this hand-made sign which was a Power Up Power Rangers sign [which promised a ‘power boost’ if you touched it]. It was brilliant seeing all the runners purposely cross to his side of the road to high-five his sign.”

Look Forward To These Course Highlights

Runners in the London Landmarks Half Marathon

(Image credit: London Landmarks Half Marathon)

“I like the City of London part,” says Griffin. “There are a lot of switchbacks down side streets, and I like the historical architecture you find there with the backdrop of all the new stuff – it’s quite amazing.” Griffin also namechecked St Paul’s – “who doesn’t like St Paul’s Cathedral?” – and running along the Thames towards Big Ben. “When you get to the Tower of London and turn around that’s a real high spot, especially because you think, ‘that’s it, I’m heading for the finish now’. But for me the most beautiful bit is along Embankment. You’ve got all the people out walking along and they’re all cheering – it’s just brilliant.”

But Prepare Yourself For This Bit

Griffin said her “dark part” of a half marathon was always around the nine-mile portion, which happens to coincide with what she says is the least pleasant part of the course for the London Landmarks race. “Coming out of the City going down to the Tower of London, that to me is quite dire and lonely.”

Whether you’re struggling or flying at that point, odds are the going will get tough for you at some point. When that happens try this technique Griffin picked up from Paula Radcliffe. “I count my footsteps – 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4. It’s mind-numbing, but it just gives me something to think about rather than look ahead and think, ‘Oh my God, Big Ben is so far away’.”

Enjoy It

No matter what happens, try to enjoy the day. And if you’re thinking that’s easy for an ultramarathoner to say, Griffin confessed that she got her first half all wrong. “My longest run in training for that first half marathon was maybe five miles – it was shocking preparation and I got overtaken by a lady with a pushchair, but I still loved that first one.

“At this stage it’s too late to panic about anything anyway – just enjoy it. It’s an amazing memory. There are 13,000 other runners, the pacers, the team that put it together, all out there supporting you. Just enjoy the day.”

And Be Proud Of The Achievement

“A lot of people shrug it off – ‘I’m only doing a half’. No, no – don’t put yourself down. And don’t be fooled, 13 miles is a long distance. It’s just as admirable as a marathon, a 50-miler, a 100-miler. You wouldn’t pop out and do a half marathon distance on a Saturday morning for fun!”

– Interview by Jonathan Shannon

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.

With contributions from