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Volunteer at the London Marathon

Last updated March 19th, 2020

The London Marathon is one of the largest annual running events in Europe and has been held every spring since 1981. The 2020 London Marathon was to be held on the 26th of April 2020 but has been postponed until Sunday 4th October 2020.

The London Marathon involves around 38,000 runners, over 6,000 volunteers, hundreds of staff and hundreds of thousands of cheering onlookers. It’s a huge event that shuts down the majority of central London for a few hours on a Sunday morning so we can watch some of the world’s best marathon runners and some game amateurs going for personal bests.

It is also where we see thousands of runners raising money for charity, either through participation or through running a marathon in most unusual outfits.

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Where to find volunteering opportunities at the London Marathon

The London Marathon is unique as far as we know as it doesn’t offer an individual volunteer program. Instead, it offers groups the chance to provide a number of volunteers for defined roles within the race. Those groups include running clubs, scout groups, school clubs, university clubs, community groups, cadets and groups from all walks of life.

If you want to volunteer for the London Marathon, you’re going to have to join a group who is planning to help. Have the leader of the group email for details on the specific volunteer application process.

There is an exception for skilled staff such as doctors, nurses, massage therapists, physiotherapists and other support staff who would not usually be found in groups.

If you have a specific skill, you can apply for a volunteer position directly on the Virgin Money London Marathon website.

What jobs could you be doing when volunteering at the London Marathon

The type of role you could be performing if you were to volunteer at the London Marathon could be anything from handing out medals or water to packing kit bags onto trucks.

The main role of most volunteers is marshalling around the course, handing out water and looking after the barriers and signage. Other roles include handing out swag bags, handing out completion medals, providing information for traffic or general directions, cleaning up around VIP areas and generally helping out.

There is a dedicated crew for things like setting up, teardown, clear up, rubbish collection and so on but you may be asked to fill in any gaps depending on where you are on the course and the task you have been assigned to do.

The organisers assign areas of responsibility to groups wanting to volunteer and those groups recruit volunteers from within their own ranks. It’s a different way of doing things but seems to work well for the event.

What can you expect from the day?

The main televised part of the London Marathon lasts for 3-4 hours but the event itself could last all day. Typically you would be on site and ready to go from around 8-9am and be expected to work until around 5-6pm. This will depend entirely on your assigned task.

Expect to be on your feet all day and working throughout. There are opportunities for breaks and a sit down but that will be controlled by your group leader.

How to get a volunteer position at the London Marathon

The London Marathon only accepts volunteer applications from groups or those with special skills. If you want to volunteer at the event, you’re going to have to join a group who has volunteered and/or plans to do so. The group organizer should then use the web link above to register the group for a volunteer position at the event and await contact.

The organisers assign roles to groups and leave group leaders to manage who participates and who does not.

To apply to volunteer at The London Marathon, put together a brief email outlining your group, what type of group it is, how many volunteers you could supply and your contact details and email

Alternatively, if you have an in-demand skill, visit the registration page to check for volunteer positions.

The organisers of the race, London Marathon Events, hold other annual events too. The Vitality Big Half, Prudential RideLondon and Swim Serpentine. Each of these also need volunteers so if you don’t get a spot at the London Marathon first time round, help out at one of these events to prove your group is reliable and worth using.

While it won’t guarantee you a volunteer spot at the next London Marathon, you stand a much better chance if the organisers know who you are and how you perform!

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