Most London marathoners reap the rewards of their race in the form of a foil blanket, race medal and finisher's bag, complete with sports drink and a Pink Lady apple. They check their race results online, interested to know how they placed in their age categories, but most compete for the fun of it or to raise money for charity.
For a few elites, however, the London Marathon offers the chance to win a healthy purse for themselves. In 2010, the top male and female finishers each won a $55,000 prize (about 35,000 pounds). Time bonuses were also awarded; the faster the time, the greater the bonus. The top time bonus was $100,000 each (about 65,000 pounds) for men (sub-2:05) and women (sub-2:18) [source: Marathonguide]. London is also a fine proving ground for wheelchair athletes, with a $15,000 (about 9,500 pounds) purse to the first place male and female finishers.
With so much money and prestige at stake, it's no wonder that athletes have broken so many world records at the London Marathon. In 2002, Moroccan-American marathoner Khalid Khannouchi bested his own world record with a new time of 2:05:38. That same year, homegrown Britton Paula Radcliffe, in her marathon debut, finished with a women's-only world record time of 2:18:56. Following in Radcliffe's supercharged slipstream, the four runners who finished after her each posted personal bests. The following year, Radcliff shattered her own record with a stunning 2:15:25 finish time. Her record still tops the women's world record chart today.
The London Marathon also stands heads and shoulders above other racing events in terms of philanthropy, having raised more than half a billion pounds ($318 million) for charity since it's inception in 1981 [source: Virgin London Marathon]. Not only do many participants pledge to raise considerable funds for a variety of charities, a portion of every runner's entry fee goes to the marathon's own London Marathon Charitable Trust, which has awarded over 33 million pounds ($5.3 million) in grants to develop British sports and recreational facilities.
From Santa suits to fleet elites, the London Marathon is one of the top racing events in the world. Find lots more information in the next section.