A look back at some London Marathon highlights

By PA Staff
·2-min read

Paula Radcliffe made the London Marathon her own with three wins in four years, culminating in her infamous ‘pit-stop’ en route to clinching her final victory in 2005.

On the 39th anniversary of the first London Marathon in 1981, the PA news agency looks back on some of other defining moments in the history of the famous race.

Double trouble

Athletics – The 1981 Gillette London Marathon – Constitution Hill
Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen shared the first London Marathon title (PA Archive)

American Dick Beardsley and Norway’s Inge Simonsen were fighting it out to become the first winner of the race when Beardsley suggested they share the title as the race neared its conclusion. The pair crossed the finish line together in a scene often cited as an embodiment of London’s unique spirit.


2019 Virgin Money London Marathon
David Weir won eight London Marathon titles (Eddie Keogh/PA Archive)

David Weir has won his home city marathon eight times, starting with a thrilling wheelchair duel in 2002 when he seized on a mistake by wheelchair leader Frenchman Pierre Fairbank and surged up The Mall to capture his first title. It was the first significant act of a career which would culminate in six world and six Paralympic titles.

Hail Mary

2017 Virgin Money London Marathon
Mary Keitany made quite an impression in 2017 (Yui Mok/PA)

Radcliffe was present in London to witness Kenyan Mary Keitany finally eclipse her 12-year-old world record. Keitany stormed home in two hours, 17 minutes and one second – beating Radcliffe’s mark by 41 seconds. Her victory also marked Keitany’s third win in London, matching another of Radcliffe’s marks.

King Kipchoge

2019 Virgin Money London Marathon
Eliud Kipchoge smashed the course record in 2019 (Paul Harding/PA)

Eliud Kipchoge, now famous for becoming the first man to break two hours for the marathon albeit in controversial shoes, has won the London Marathon a record four times. The Kenyan’s streak of four wins over the last five years culminated in his course record two hours, two minutes and 37 seconds triumph over the course in 2019.

Michael Watson

Watson London Marathon
Michael Watson completed the London Marathon in 2003 (Johnny Green/PA)

The Marathon’s tradition for feats of super-human endurance were encapsulated in 2003 when Michael Watson crossed the finish line six days after he started the race. The boxer was critically injured in a world title fight with Chris Eubank in 1991 and had been told he would never walk again. Eubank was present to accompany Watson over the line.