Getting fluids in without choking or spilling most of it down your front whilst running is not an easy task! Here's some advice on how to overcome the issue of drinking on the move during a marathon...
1) Line up on the correct side of the road
No-one benefits from a last minute sideways surge across the path of other athletes, so move across with a couple of hundred metres to spare and try to establish yourself in a gap in the traffic if you can.
2) Slow down for the grab, and make eye contact
Whether volunteers are handing out the drinks, or you're taking them from a table, it's a good idea to slow down a bit as you approach 'the grab'. The loss of time is insignificant but it massively reduces the risk of simply spilling the drink all over the aid station workers, yourself and the pavement!
At this year's London Marathon, the water will be supplied in 250ml race bottles with a flip-top but three of the Drinks Stations will be trialling compostable cups instead of bottles this year. Water stations at miles 10, 19 and 23 will offer drinks in compostable cups. Try drinking from a cup in training before Race Day.
If you're being handed a drink by another person, it's a good idea to make eye contact with them on the approach, maybe even pointing to them to signal your intent so they know they should give the drink to you.
A breathless ‘thank you’ as you run off is an optional but often appreciated gesture if you can muster the energy!
3) Don’t rush
Many athletes feel the need to drink the contents of whatever they pick up from an aid station within about 10 metres of collecting it.
TAKE YOUR TIME!
Once you have the drink in hand, gather yourself, calm your breathing and take in small sips of fluid over a few hundred meters until you feel you have had what you need.
Do be mindful of where you end up dumping the cup or bottle (different races have different rules and clean up processes) so you're not littering.
4) Dump the leftover water on your head
There are a few potential benefits to dumping water on your head, especially in hot conditions (so, not so likely at London then…). If you end up with spare water after an aid station pickup, it may be better to dump it on your head rather than throw it away.
Doing the same with a sports drink is not recommended though, as things can get a bit sticky...