On Sunday 4 October there will be no mass start in Blackheath, no crowds lining the streets and no iconic landmarks. The 40th London Marathon will be different, but #The40thRace will still embody the spirit of the London Marathon - a day of celebration where 45,000 runners from up and down the UK, and across the world, will run the 26.2 miles ‘their way’.
Participants will have between 00:00 to 23:59:59 BST to complete the 26.2 miles, which they can choose to run, walk or jog – making the event the most inclusive London Marathon ever.
For Kerrie Kempster, a Dorset mum of two teenage boys who started running 4 years ago, this year’s virtual London Marathon will be her first ever marathon! As Kerrie says, “running the race ‘my way’ on Sunday, will consist of being dropped off at Sandbanks with a few friends who are also taking part, and running back to our hometown in Blandford.”
Although the London Marathon will be almost unrecognisable versus last year, there is one enduring factor – the incredible stories of the runners themselves. The Virgin Money London Marathon is the largest annual fundraising event on the planet – runners have raised more than £1billion for good causes since the race began in 1981.
For Kerrie, fundraising for a charity close to her heart is a key reason for running , “I shall be running in aid of JDRF - Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - as my eldest son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged just 15 months old. It was a very traumatic time as he was rushed into intensive care where we were told to expect the worst as his tiny organs were shutting down. 15 years later he is doing well, but it is still a relentless lifelong condition which involves countless blood tests, injections and painful cannula changes. I want to work towards a future where we can cure or prevent Type 1 diabetes hence my fundraising which also fits in with my own fitness goals.” You can support Kerrie here.
Ashley, a Runderwear Ambassador is also running for a charity – Wellchild. He is a seasoned runner, this being his fifth marathon, having run London three times and Berlin once. Whilst Kerrie will be going for the point-to-point run, Ashley has decided to go for a lapped course planning to run 26 laps of a one mile course in his hometown of Cheltenham.
It will also be a first marathon for Clare Waterfall, Production Company Owner and Mum of two, who’s chosen a looped route, running from her home in Ramsbottom, in a figure-of-eight via Bury and Rawtenstall. She will be running the marathon with three friends and has found a particular issue with the virtual event in these restricted time “training and the race itself will be more difficult for us as we can’t just nip in to a cafe or friends house to use their toilet, all things you have to think about when you are women of a certain age, so we have had to plan our route accordingly!”
So whilst the masses search out their own routes, the Elites will be running in normal race conditions but things will be equally strange and different for them. Instead of the well-known London course which passes countless iconic landmarks from The Cutty Sark at mile 7 to Buckingham Palace at mile 26……the Elites will be doing laps of St James Park!
Three separate races will be held, with distance running Greats Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) and Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) going head-to-head in the men’s title battle along with no less than six other sub 2:05 marathoners! 💥
World record-holder and defending champion Brigid Kosgei (Kenya) leads the women’s field with five other women who have run sub 2:20! Both Daniel Romanchuk and Manuela Schär will defend their wheelchair titles.
Coverage starts on BBC2 at 7am for all those not out running themselves!
This year will be different but with an explosive elite line-up and 45,000 Marathon runners pounding the pavements up and down the country on Sunday, the #The40thRace remains a unique celebration of the sport we all love.