Runners at last year's London Marathon
Runners during this year's London Marathon can expect temperatures to rise to 16 degrees.

More than 40,000 runners will make their way to the start line of the 34th London Marathon.

From its debut, the marathon has grown into one of the most eagerly anticpated dates on the running calendar and is on its way become a British sporting and charity institution.

The first London Marathon, on 29 March, 1981, attracted 7,747 runners out of 20,000 applicants. Last year the number of runners had risen to approximately 35,000.

The first Men's Elite Race in 1981 was tied between American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, who crossed the finish line holding hands in 2 hr, 11 min, 48 sec. The first Women's Elite Race, also in 1981, was won by Briton Joyce Smith in 2:29:57.

Paula Radcliffe
Paula Radcliffe set a women's course record in 2003 when she ran the race in just over 2 hours and 15 minutes

In 1983, the first wheelchair races took place. Organised by the British Sports Association for the Disabled (BASD), 19 people competed and 17 finished. Gordon Perry of the United Kingdom won the Men's Wheelchair Race, coming in at 3:20:07, and Denise Smith, also of the UK, won the Women's Wheelchair Race in 4:29:03.

The current course records were set by Emmanuel Mutai and Paula Radcliffe, who recorded 2:04:40 and 2:15:25 in 2011 and 2003 respectively.

In 2002, Lloyd Scott completed the marathon wearing a deep-sea diving suit that weighed 110lb (50kg). Each shoe alone weighed 24lb.

A picture of Claire Squires posted on Facebook soon before she ran the London Marathon

Tragedy struck the 2012 race when Claire Squires collapsed and died during the event. She had raised £500 before the event, an amount that eventually swelled to £1m.

Over the years, marathon fundraisers have raised a total of £660m, with £53m alone raised in 2013.

In 2010 it was estimated that the marathon injected £27m into London's economy, including money spent by spectators, hotel bookings, food and drink.

Sunday's race - The Mo-factor

Mo Farah
Double Olympic gold winner Mo Farah will take part in his first London Marathon

More than 650,000 spectators will take to the streets across the capital this year to roar on athletes and fundraisers.

Of the 40,000 who start the race, 36,000 are expected to finish. Nine MPs who are competing will - naturally - hope to be among the frontrunners.

Fifteen runners who have competed in every London Marathon since it began are expected to run again this year.

The oldest person lacing up their trainers will be Paul Freedman, 89. The oldest woman taking part, Iva Barr, is 86.

At the other end of the scale, Thomas Jarvis and Georgina Godard, both 18, will be the youngest entrants.

St John's Ambulance has provided 1,200 volunteers for the event and 45 ambulances will be on standby along the route.

Runners need not worry about their possessions: there will be 40 TNT lorries carrying their bags to the finish line.

Forecasts predict temperatures rising to 16C during the later stages of the race, but runners need not worry: they can rehydrate by sipping some of the 750,000 bottles of Buxton water being handed out. That's equivalent to 187,500 litres.

Sixty thousand bottles of Lucozade Sport will also be on hand.

The event is being televised in 196 countries with the winning elite male and female athletes receiving a cheque for almost £33,000. If conditions are right, athtletes might eye up the £15,000 course record prize or the £75,000 for a new world record.

After crossing the finishing line at The Mall, athletes can be excused for indulging in one drink - or maybe two.

Goody bag

Participants who complete all 26.2 miles of the London Marathon will receive a bag of items donated by race sponsors.

While it might not quite match up to the £50,000 goody bags handed out at this year's Oscars, runners will be grateful for its contents. They include cereal bars, Lucozade, T-shirt, a foil blanket, deodorant, recovery gels and a pen.