Five Fabulously Free Events You Can Watch at The Olympics

Love sports but not enough to burn a huge hole in your pocket? Want tickets but only to find out they’ve been sold out? Fret not, here are five sports that you can watch entirely FREE at the 2012 London Olympics.

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1. Cycling – Men and Women’s Road Races and Time Trials

The route, covering London boroughs, royal parks and the Surrey countryside, offers unparalleled views of woodland and rural Britain whilst passing several famous British landmarks (Buckingham Palace, the Big Ben, the Mall, Hampton Court Palace). The Mall and Box Hill portion of the route will be ticketed, but the rest of the beautiful 120km route remains open for free viewing. 

Do note however, that cycling is a pretty fast sport and cyclists would more than likely whizz by, giving you only a quick glance at the athletes. For those willing to pay more, however, organisers have announced an increase in capacity of the Box Hill ticketed area to 15,000 spectators up from 3,500. If you want a better view, it might be worth it to shell out a couple of extra pounds for a ticket.


Men’s Road Race – 28 July

Men’s Time Trial – 01 Aug

Women’s Road Race – 29 July

Women’s Time Trial – 01 Aug

2. Sailing

Sailing will be held at Weymouth and Portland this Summer. Located in Dorset, the venue offers some of the best sailing waters in Britain with state of the art land facilities. Events will be held from 29 July to the penultimate day of the Olympics, 11 August.

Do pack a pair of binoculars though, as the boats can be quite far away ;)


Refer to the official timetable - too many races to list!

3. Walking – 20 and 50km race walks

Probably one of the Olympics’s lesser known sports, the walk can be surprisingly exciting, with more overtakes than an F1 race (or so I’m told). This year, the race will be held in the form of numerous laps around the Mall and Constitution Hill; and although the Mall area will be ticketed, there remains a nice spot at the end of the Green Park stretch where walkers make a sharp U-turn; expect plenty of overtaking action there!


Men’s 20km Race Walk – 4 August

Men’s 50km Race Walk – 11 August

Women’s 20km Race Walk – 11 August

4. Triathlon

As if swimming and cycling back to back weren’t enough, this monster of an event packs three Olympic sports into one – a 1.5 km swim, a 40km cycle and a 10 km run. Held at Hyde Park, the event this year sees Britain’s home favourite Helen Jenkins take to the course in the Women’s Triathlon. Hot on her heels however is Australia’s Erin Denham, in an extraordinary turnaround from a debilitating heart condition.

Hyde Park, one of London’s beloved and arguably most famous park, is highly walkable (a distance of about 2.5km across. As athletes will be doing multiple laps of the course, this allows the lucky spectator multiple views of the athletes (yay!).


Women’s Triathlon – August 4

Men’s Triathlon – August 7

5. Marathon

And of course, I’ve saved the best for last ;) As an amateur distance runner myself, I do love to watch these elite athletes in action, albeit them being elite means not being able to get a very long view of them (like cycling, but a bit better.) This year’s course sees them doing one round of a short course (2.2 miles) and three rounds of a longer course (8miles) for a grand total of 26.2 miles, or 42.195km. This is the second time the marathon has returned to the place where the modern distance was set (famously, in order to allow the finish line to reach the royal box area, and to avoid troublesome tram lines, the distance of the marathon was increased from 25 to 26.2 miles in 1908 London Olympics).

The women’s race will see the home favourite Paula Radcliffe up against the 2008 Olympic champion Constantina; while in the men’s well-known American marathoner Ryan Hall and Kenyan Kipsang; world record holder Patrick Makau had failed to make the Kenyan team due to his recent Virgin London Marathon dropout, and joins former world record holder Haile Gebreselassie, who will also give the race a miss.


Women’s Marathon – 5 Aug

Men’s Marathon – 12 Aug

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