TCS London Marathon Event Director Hugh Brasher believes the event’s return to its iconic central London route will make the 2021 edition the most meaningful in its history.
Extraordinary lengths have been taken by the organising team to ensure Sunday’s marathon goes ahead safely, despite the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the first time in 889 days, around 40,000 participants will be tackling the traditional course from Greenwich to Westminster.
And, with another 40,000 expected to take on the virtual event, Brasher believes this year’s marathon will be more meaningful than ever before after 18 months of uncertainty.
“To have what we think will be 40,000 people running from Greenwich to Westminster and a similar number doing the virtual event in their communities makes this not just the biggest London Marathon ever but the biggest marathon ever in the world,” explained Brasher.
“We are all in a world that is so different, a world that none of us could have imagined 18 months ago.
“That is why the London Marathon and our campaign ‘We Run Together’ is important and will make this the most meaningful London Marathon that there has ever been in the history of the event.”
But changes have also been made to ensure the event can be run safely.
Every single participant will need to show a negative lateral flow test to take part and there will be no baggage lorries making the journey from Greenwich to The Mall. Instead, kitbags will be dropped off by participants when they collect their bib numbers at the TCS London Marathon Running Show, which is again taking place at the ExCeL London.
Participants are being encouraged to wear a bottle belt to further reduce touchpoints on the day and have been asked to invite just one person to watch.
However, the core fundamentals of the event remain unchanged.
“It will be different to the previous 40 years, but it will also be the same,” said Brasher.
“We’re doing it safely and doing it in a way that we believe offers hope and the ability to realise how important being together is.
“We’re asking runners to bring one person to watch, not five. But there will still be people cheering every step of the way – and that incredible feeling of positivity you get when people are shouting your name and wanting you to be successful will still be there too.
“That’s the journey we will be showing on the BBC for more than six hours on Sunday.”
Another difference to this year’s event will see participants setting off in more than 40 start waves across a 90-minute period.
Those taking part will be given a three-minute window for their start time and their incredible efforts will provide a huge boost to charities who have been hit hard in recent times.
“Through the pandemic, charities have lost more than £10 billion and this will be one of the greatest days of the year for charity fundraising in times that have been incredibly difficult,” said Brasher.
“Runners in the London Marathon over the last 40 years have raised more than £1 billion for good causes.
“And with people running from their communities around the globe, and people running from Greenwich to Westminster, we will have the most inclusive marathon in the world.
“That is why we believe ‘We Run Together’ will resonate throughout the event.”
It will not be just the runners who have worked their way up to Sunday’s race though, as the organisers, London Marathon Events, have been doing likewise to ensure the correct procedures are in place.
“We worked with the government and the Events Research Programme when we put on the Reunion 5K at Kempton Park in May,” said Brasher.
“We were at Hatfield for the Vitality London 10,000 in early July, then the Standard Chartered Great City Race, which was the first closed-road event in London since the pandemic began. After that was The Vitality Big Half in August. Each one of them got bigger and we tested the processes that will be in place on Sunday 3 October.