May 30 - The proposed London 2012 Olympic marathon course has received a glowing review as the first test event for the Games took place today and saw just under 50 athletes try out the iconic route around the capital which starts and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace.
The test event today began at 6am on the course, shortly ahead of closures of the Bupa London 10,000 road race, with club runners invited to take part in run designed to test technology and timing and identify any issues with the route ahead of the 2012 Games.
The Olympic marathon starts on The Mall with a 2.2-mile circuit of St. James' Park before three eight-mile loops past landmarks including Admiralty Arch, Birdcage Walk, St Paul's Cathedral, Leadenhall, Tower Hill and the Houses of Parliament before finishing in The Mall, where the annual London Marathon finishes each April.
Harrow runner Chris Finill was the first athlete to cross the line after being given the honour by his fellow participants, who all finished together, because of his feat of having run at every London Marathon since its inception in 1981.
The 52-year-old, who ran the first of those 31 races when he was 22-years-old, said: "I would prefer to run this course than the regular marathon course.
"It's designed to showcase the city and it does that well.
"It is a very cleverly selected route and will be popular with viewers and runners alike."
It is considered that there will be marathon world record the course due to the high number of turns but lack of downhill straights but the runners admitted it is a fantastic to compete on and London 2012 director of sport Debbie Jevans claimed she was delighted with the success of the first test event.
"It was important to get the feedback which we have done in great detail," said Jevans.
"We were testing the technology and timing all the way round and it worked very well.
"What was run today will pretty much be the course, because the feedback from the athletes has been so positive."
The only minor glitch for the London 2012 organisers came from complaints about the Paralympic course.
Canadian wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy, who won the 2010 London Marathon, was one of the wheelchair athletes involved in the test event that reported a some problems with three tight corners and a short cobbled stretch that Jevans admitted will be looked at.
"We may have to tweak the Paralympic course a little," she said.
The race start times for the London 2012 Games still have not been finalised because of continuing discussions with global broadcasters but it is considered likely that the marathon will have an 11am start to fit with the demands of Japanese and United States networks.
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