More than 40,000 people run together in London in a celebration of positivity, diversity and inclusion
More than 40,000 people ran together through the streets of the capital today, enjoying perfect conditions for their 26.2-mile journey to the Finish Line of the 2022 TCS London Marathon.
Celebrating the 42nd edition’s theme of #WeRunTogether, some 38,156 people had passed beneath the new digital finish gantry on The Mall by 17:00 today after 40,927 started the event this morning.
Thousands more joined the head-bobbing party by completing their marathon challenge virtually over a 24-hour window, confirming the event’s status as the most popular marathon on the planet.
“What an amazing day it’s been,” said Event Director Hugh Brasher. “A year ago only about 90 countries could travel to the UK and now 200 can, so it really does feel like the event is back.
“The sun shone, and the amazing positivity that London is renowned for shone brightly too.
“Back in 1981, at the first London Marathon, around 95 per cent of runners were men in small shorts. But it’s a sea of humanity here today and we hope our new initiatives ensure the event is even more diverse in years to come.”
One of those initiatives was Rainbow Row, which encouraged the LGBTQIA+ community “to bring colour to the event”, as Brasher put it, while assisted wheelchair entrants were on the course for the first time, and the marathon championed its new non-binary entry policy.
It was Brasher himself who predicted a Marathon Weekend to remember and it proved so, as the elite races delivered stunning performances from two of the sport’s up-and-coming stars, and the world’s best wheelchair racers produced a pair of course records fit for the occasion.
Ethiopian sensation Yalemzerf Yehualaw stormed to victory in the women’s race, fulfilling a childhood dream as she became the youngest-ever women’s winner with a commanding performance that broke a six-year Kenyan stranglehold on the title.
The 23-year-old was racing the full distance for only the second time in her career. Yet she shrugged off a bruising mid-race fall to leave defending champion Joyciline Jepkosgei trailing in her wake before striding to victory in 2:17:26, the third-quickest time ever on the London course and only 25 seconds outside the women’s only world record.
In the men’s race, London debutant Amos Kipruto finally took his first Abbott World Marathon Majors victory after 13 races and a handful of recent near misses in Tokyo and Berlin. The 30-year-old produced a stunning finish to win in 2:04:39 ahead of Ethiopia’s Leul Gebresilase, securing Kenya’s 15th London Marathon men’s crown.
Meanwhile, there was a record-breaking Swiss double in the wheelchair races for the second year in a row, as Marcel Hug and Catherine Debrunner both set course records.
Hug retained his title from 2021 after a head-to-head tussle with the USA’s Daniel Romanchuk, while Debrunner confirmed her sudden emergence on the marathon scene with her second Majors victory in a week.
Weynay Ghebresilasie was the first British man across the line in ninth, just ahead of last year’s domestic champion Philip Sesemann, while Rose Harvey was the quickest British woman, finishing 10th overall after pre-race favourite Charlotte Purdue withdrew overnight with illness.
After the elites, came the masses, including Joan Benoit Samuelson, USA’s 1984 Olympic champion who was the quickest celebrity of the day, running 3:20:20 with a replacement knee at the age of 65.
“It was an accomplishment just to finish today,” said the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon champion who was running alongside her daughter. “I’m a grandmother now and everybody said I wouldn’t do it, but I would never say never. I did it on a wing and a prayer.
“I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything but I feel I owe my sport. For me now it’s about storytelling.”
There were thousands of other heartwarming stories among the day’s finishers, not least that of Anoosheh Ashoori, who finished his gruelling journey in less than five-and-a-half hours, just six months after being released from prison in Iran, where he shared a cell with cockroaches and rats.
Emmy award-winning actor Cynthia Erivo struggled to hold back the tears after taking more than 20 minutes off her personal best. The London-born Hollywood star completed an emotional ‘homecoming’ run in 3:35:36 after just eight weeks’ training.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am with my time,” said the double Academy Award nominee. “I feel so incredibly emotional and am trying hard not to cry.”
Ever Present Chris Finill knows the London Marathon as well as anyone, and the 63-year-old completed his 42nd consecutive marathon in 3:01:18 before summing up the feeling of many: “This year feels like a genuine return to normality,” he said. “I have done 37 sub-three hour marathons and I will certainly be back next year.”
Before today’s elites, came the stars of the future, as thousands of young athletes from across the country battled for honours in the TCS Mini London Marathon yesterday. The event saw children and young people complete either one mile or 2.6K, finishing on The Mall under the world-famous gantry.
The first lucky winners of the championship part of the mini event were greeted by Kenya’s marathon legend and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, who was inspired to say: “The future of marathon running is great.”
After today, it certainly looks that way.
The London Marathon will return to its traditional spring slot next year. The ballot for the 2023 event is open now and closes at 21:00 on Friday 7 October.
“It’s like the National Lottery,” said Brasher. “Unless you enter it, you can’t be in it.
“So if you feel inspired by everything you’ve seen today, by the amazing spirit of positivity and togetherness, make sure you enter the ballot. Next year you could be part of this brilliant day.”