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The London Marathon is one of the biggest running events in the world, and is one of the five top world marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors competition which has a $1 million prize purse. It has been held each spring in London since 1981. The race is currently sponsored by Virgin Money, as the Virgin London Marathon. Previously the event was sponsored by Flora (from 1996 to 2009). The 2010 London Marathon took place in April 2010. The 31st London Marathon took place on 17 April 2011.
Set over a largely flat course around the River Thames, the London Marathon is generally regarded as a very competitive and unpredictable event, and conducive to fast times. Spanning 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), it is the only Marathon course in the world that is run across two hemispheres, starting in the Eastern Hemisphere, crossing the Prime Meridian in Greenwich after 9.8 km (6.1 miles) and finishing in the Western Hemisphere.