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The first London Marathon took place on the 29th March 1981. The idea for a London Marathon came from two young Olympic medallists called John Disley and Chris Brasher. According to John Disley, the whole idea started in the pub next to their running club next to Richmond Park.

Other members of their running club had taken part in the New York Marathon and had nothing but great things to say about the race so they decided to go and see it for themselves and entered the race in 1978. They were amazed at how well organised the race was and by how many people entered the race and wished to bring a similar marathon to London.

After speaking to the Greater London Council about organising a race, they were quickly told that they would be able to arrange a marathon but there was to be no cost to the council at all. They then decided to go back to New York to investigate how it was financed and organised.

On his return, a budget was prepared for the first London Marathon with an expenditure of £75,000 over and above any revenue expected from entry fees. This was serious money, which even second mortgages on Brasher’s and Disley’s houses wouldn’t meet.

Then fortune smiled on the enterprise when Gillette gave up their sponsorship of cricket’s Gillette Cup. The company asked their agents, West Nally, for advice on what to sponsor next. Peter West told them two young Olympic medallists were putting on a marathon and needed help. A deal was done and Gillette became the Marathon’s first title sponsor. The deal was worth £75,000 a year for three years.

To improve the overall standard and status of British marathon running by providing a fast course and strong international competition.

To show mankind that, on occasions, they can be united.

To raise money for sporting and recreational facilities in London.

To help boost London’s tourism.

To prove that ‘Britain is best’ when it comes to organising major events.

To have fun, and provide some happiness and sense of achievement in a troubled world



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