After months of training, pain and anticipation the big day is almost upon us - and it's going to be a hot one.

The 2018 London Marathon gets underway this Sunday with record temperatures expected as around 40,000 people take on the iconic 26.2 mile course across the capital.

The forecast is for blue skies, sunshine and 23C, beating the previous high of 22.2C set in 2007. As a result, organisers have issued warnings to all participants to prepare for the conditions accordingly. Extra water, ice and on-course showers will all be made available.

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Race director Hugh Brasher said: "We have numerous contingencies and we continue to monitor the weather. It is Britain and weather is ever-changing.

"We are sending detailed information to all runners on how to prepare accordingly."

With this in mind, we take you through some quick-fire tips to prepare for a hotter-than-expected race.

Tips for running in the heat

Lower your expectations

Many of you will have done your training in typically miserable British weather. The months leading up to this weekend have been wet and cool, with few hot spells, meaning Sunday's race will come as shock to the system. Many of us will be unadapted to the conditions and physiologically incapable of handling the thermal load. 

As such, it's time to reassess your expectations. The sort of conditions conducive to an impressive race time, whatever that may be for you, aren't going to be on offer on Sunday. Research has proven that the optimum temperature for running a marathon is 12.2C. Anything above that will make matters harder for you.

It's better coming to terms with this now rather than pushing yourself to the extreme on the day and putting yourself in danger.

An estimated 40,000 are set to take part in Sunday's race (Getty)

Be smart with your hydration

It's going to be hot, (possibly) humid and sweaty - that means you're going to lose more water in Sunday's race than you will have done during your longer runs while training. With this in mind, start upping your regular water intake now. Get into a routine of sipping water – at your desk, in the office and while travelling are all great times to top up.

Take in several ounces of water or sports drink on race morning (clear urine is a sign that your hydration status is OK) then replenish at aid stations along the way. An advantage of sports drinks is that they contain electrolytes, which increase your water-absorption rate and replace the electrolytes you lose in sweat. 

However, don't overdo it during the race. Excessive water intake dilutes blood-sodium levels and can put you at risk of hyponatremia. Drink little and often - and listen to your body. 

Dress appropriately

Brasher has said the race won't be banning runners from wearing fancy dress but athletes have to be cautious. Obviously the added layers of a custom will only add to a runner's risk of over-heating, so think twice before donning your Superman cape.

For those taking Sunday's race more seriously, wear apparel that’s light in colour, lightweight, and has vents or mesh. Wicking fabrics are a must. Consider wearing a cap — or better yet, a visor — and sunglasses to reduce heat build-up in your head. Pre-run, apply a sweat-proof sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin.

Think twice about wearing a costume (Getty)

Douse Yourself

At the aid stations, take one cup of water to drink, and another to pour over your head. The neck is another good area to target given the blood flows closely to the surface of the skin. If you're not worried by time, and have a family member or friend willing to help you with this, apply a wet towel to the neck during your breaks from running. This will also help bring your internal core temperature down.

Watch the pollen count

Pollen from ragweed and other grasses is common during the summer, so runners with allergies are likely to experience itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion. Check pollen.com for updates.

Race preview

What time does the London Marathon start?

  • 08:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
  • 09:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
  • 09:15 – The Elite Women's Race
  • 10:00 – The Elite Men's Race, British Athletics & England Athletics Marathon Championships and Mass Race
Mo Farah will be taking to the field among the elite male runners (Getty)

Where does it start?

The race kicks off at Blackheath, in Lewisham, and Greenwich Park. There are colour-coded starts for different groups (blue, green and red). 

What is the route?

Starting in Blackheath, the first seven miles of the race run through Woolwich and Greenwich before heading towards central London. After passing the Tower Hill, the course snakes around the Isle of Dogs and heads towards the home stretch between London Bridge and the Mall. A PDF of the route can be downloaded here.

Runners will cross the iconic Tower Bridge (Getty)

How do runners get to the start?

Note: Industrial action on the DLR network is scheduled to begin at 04:00 on Friday 20 April. Once the strike begins, it is anticipated that a reduced DLR service will operate between Canning Town (which connects with the Jubilee line) and ExCeL.

By train

The easiest way to get to the three start areas (Blue Start, Red Start and Green Start) is to travel by train:

  • Blue Start or Good For Age runners should travel to Blackheath station
  • Red Start runners should travel to either Greenwich station or Maze Hill station
  • Green Start runners should travel to Maze Hill station

[Travel on all of the above trains is free to competitors. You must present your running number to a member of staff at the station in order to take advantage of this offer.]

MBNA Thames Clippers

MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus services run from key central London piers. Book your tickets in advance at www.thamesclippers.com.

Cars

Competitors are advised against travelling by car with heavy congestion expected in the area.

The race gets underway in Blackheath, Lewisham, and Greenwich Park (Reuters)

How do runners get their number?

All competitors must pick up their race numbers from the London Marathon Expo at the ExCel centre, which is open from Wednesday until 5pm on Saturday. 

 London Marathon Expo opening hours:

  • Wednesday 18 April: 11am-8pm
  • Thursday 19 April: 10am-8pm 
  • Friday 20 April: 10am-8pm 
  • Saturday 21 April: 9am-5pm 

How can I watch the London Marathon on TV and online?

Unable to attend in person? Not to worry, the BBC has got the whole event covered.

  • 8.30am-2pm: BBC One, iPlayer and BBC Sport website 
  • 8.50am-12.25pm: Elite Races, BBC Red Button, Connected TV and online 
  • 12.30pm-4pm: Finish Line (red button, connected TV and online) 
  • 6pm-7pm: Highlights (BBC Two, iPlayer and BBC Sport website)

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