BBC show off the city during London Marathon ahead of Olympics
21:33 GMT, 22 April 2012
If you pay close enough attention to your TV, chances are that come the end of August, you'll have seen enough of the streets of London to have a decent stab at passing the Knowledge and earning the right to drive a black cab in the bus lanes. But sorry, guv, don't go south of the river.
In March, there was the Sport Relief Mile. Then, of course, in summer there is the Olympic road racing. In between, it's one of our great modern traditions – the London Marathon.
Now in its 32nd year, the 'Virgin London Marathon', as host Sue Barker announced it (Sir Richard's upped his game and is buying capital cities, then) was the ideal opportunity for the BBC to get in a dress rehearsal for the Games.
Sights: Buckingham Palace forms the backdrop to the finish line
In doing so, they seem to have made Brendan Foster's century. Having previously covered every race from TV Centre at White City, he was now at the finishing line on The Mall, in what looked rather like a garden conservatory.
'Remarkable,' beamed Brendan. 'I've seen 817,819 (runners) in all, but it's the first time I'm actually going to see a human being in the flesh!'
One of those runners was GB prospect Freya Murray (one of many from around the world chasing a Stratford call-up), who told Colin Jackson that it should be a 'really good race amongst the British, as well as the race at the front', which puts our medal prospects in context, but also the London Marathon itself.
Within the ranks of thousands there are hundreds of mini-races, each with their own story. What surely makes the London Marathon so compelling – as Foster's co-commentator Steve Cram said: 'what sets it apart from other great races' – is the fact that aside from the competitive element, so much money is raised for an array of causes.
Towering success: The famous bridge is the half-way mark for the runners, while the famous tea clipper Cutty Sark is set to reopen
This is where the real human drama can be found, the spirit of which was summed up perhaps most touchingly when the late Jane Tomlinson's husband Mike (with their daughter) explained to Sue Barker: 'We shouldn't be running today, but no way we can't.'
Let us not forget that this was the Olympic city on display. Not that there was much chance of forgetting, as barely an opportunity was spurned to give us the full tour.
I imagine anyone watching was left in no doubt that the Cutty Sark would reopen in four days. Cram was also doing his best, pointing out that The Shard 'would be the tallest building in Western Europe', although his theory that it would manage that by 'putting a fairy on the top' may not be what the architect had in mind.
Human toll: The runners who race for charity have plenty of stories to tell
Of course, the thing about the London Marathon coverage is that it's, well, a marathon, not a sprint, and once the real racing's done, it's time for the multi-coloured river of fun runners that burst its banks in Blackheath to have its stories told.
This was instigated with Barker, now in The Mall (made good time there, Sue!) chatting to a former resident, one Prince Harry – who volunteered 'my brother and his wife' for next year's race – before handing to a team of reporters extricating thoughts and dedications from a variety of sweaty bodies all doing their bit, something the coverage was meticulous in acknowledging.
'London looks at its best today,' mused Foster. 'Imagine what it'll look like in August' Not too long to hold that thought now.
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