The London Marathon 2010

April the 25th is London Marathon day. There will be the usual mix of madness, heartache and outstanding athleticism in what has become one of the world's biggest marathons and the largest one-day fundraiser anywhere. More than three quarters of runners taking part are doing so for a good cause and all those outrageous costumes will be beamed to more than 150 countries around the world.

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Here is an introduction to the big day:

There were just seven thousand participants in 1981, the race's inaugural year. This year there will be over 36,000 people taking part with over 750 charities benefiting. Over the years the event has raised a staggering £450 million pounds with millions more to be raised this year.

Marathon running used to be for the elite, but not any more. It's now more popular than ever and the London Marathon is, again, completely over subscribed. More and more of us are finding out what it's like to run 26 miles, so if you haven't made it this time why not try for next year? Getting into shape isn't all about ice-baths and altitude training either, you can follow a short program at your local gym and find yourself ticking off the miles in no time. Anyway, you've always got the pre-marathon pasta party to look forward to.

The popularity of the London Marathon is not just down to the slick organisation and incredible support. It's also a chance to run through London's famous streets passing iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and London Eye. It's this that makes the event so popular to spectators and runners alike.

So even if you aren't one of the thousands of intrepid entrants you can still experience all the atmosphere by cheering them on. The route will be lined with thousands of supporters and there will be a variety of entertainment to keep you going. It's a fun day out for all the family so why not make a day of it?