The 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon tomorrow is on track to be the biggest marathon ever, with more than 36,000 taking part in the mass event and up to 40,000 taking on 26.2 miles between 00:00 and 23:59:59 BST on the course of their choice anywhere in the world in the virtual event.
When registration desks at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show at ExCeL London closed at 17:30 today, a total of 36,401 applicants had picked up their bib numbers over the last four days ahead of tomorrow’s event.
With cool, but drier, conditions expected on Marathon Day, participants in the mass event on the streets of London can look forward to taking in some of the famous landmarks on the iconic course 889 days after it last took place there.
At the same time, thousands of virtual participants will celebrate being part of the 41st edition of the event and its #WeRunTogether campaign in their communities, set to make this not only the biggest London Marathon to date, but also the most meaningful, as Event Director Hugh Brasher notes: “Togetherness is what we have missed so much over these past 18 months.
“Back in 1981, one of the founding aims of the London Marathon was ‘to have fun and provide some happiness and a sense of achievement in a troubled world’. Forty years on, those words have never been more appropriate. Tomorrow will be an extraordinary day as We Run Together.”
The elite men’s and mass races will begin when Tokyo Olympic BMX medallist Kye Whyte pushes the start button on Shooters Hill Road in Blackheath at 09:30.
Another star from Tokyo 2020, Paralympian Hannah Cockroft, will set the world’s best elite wheelchair racers on their way at 08:50, followed 10 minutes later by the world’s best women marathon runners, who will begin their quest for one of the most prestigious big city titles at 09:00, in a race started by 1996 London Marathon champion Liz McColgan. Her daughter Eilish, Olympian and European 5,000m silver medallist, is a pacemaker in the elite women’s race this year.
Among those competing for the prized London crown will be defending champion Shura Kitata, who put in an impressive sprint finish to take the win in challenging conditions at the elite-only event in 2020. He’ll be joined by six men who’ve run under 2:04, a record for a marathon field, including the two men who joined him on the podium last year, Kenya’s Vincent Kipchumba and Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma.
In the women’s race, defending champion and Olympic silver medallist Brigid Kosgei will be looking to make it three London wins in a row as she takes on no less than nine women who have run under 2:20 – making the elite women’s field the most competitive ever assembled.
Reigning champions Brent Lakatos and Nikita den Boer will defend their crowns in the wheelchair races, but the winners of last weekend’s BMW Berlin Marathon, Marcel Hug and Manuela Schär, are expected to push them hard. David Weir, who is taking part in his 22nd consecutive London Marathon and chasing an unprecedented ninth title, will be in the mix too, with the 2019 men’s winner Danial Romanchuk also a contender.
The elites will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities and fancy-dress costume wearers. Among them will be nine men who have run every single London Marathon since 1981, stars of sport and screen, including former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, everyday heroes supporting Charity of the Year Macmillan, and people dressed in all sorts of weird and wonderful outfits striving to break more than 49 Guinness World Records.
First under the famous Finish gantry in The Mall will be the best young runners and para-athletes in the country competing for honours in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon, which will feature a 2.6K course for the first time and be started at 08:30 by Olympic gold medallist and former Mini London Marathon runner Alex Yee.
Following its success last year, the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon in schools also returns this year. The event offers children of all ages and abilities the chance to earn a commemorative pin badge by running, jogging, walking or wheeling 2.6 miles in their schools. The free event runs until Friday 22 October and more than 460,000 children have been signed up already.