Event Director Hugh Brasher previews a Marathon Weekend to remember
On the eve of Marathon Weekend, Event Director Hugh Brasher is looking forward to welcoming the world back to the capital and celebrating all the amazing participants whose stories make the London Marathon so special.
“It’s very hard to say what I’m most looking forward to,” said Brasher today. “The elite races are stacked with some of the fastest marathoners of all time, but I also think the TCS Mini London Marathon will be incredible – and welcoming the world back to the London will be amazing.”
An emotional moment
“We were the biggest marathon in the world in 2021, but only about 92 countries were allowed travel to the UK last October due to Covid restrictions, whereas this year that figure is more like 200 countries.
“I also think people will feel even more emotional than usual when they near the Finish Line on The Mall. After the death of Her Majesty The Queen, passing Buckingham Palace is sure to be a poignant moment for many.”
Inspiring the next generation
The first participants to pass Buckingham Palace this weekend will be the next generation of marathoners, when the TCS Mini London Marathon starts tomorrow (Saturday 1 October) at 09:00.
“The TCS Mini London Marathon is possibly the most important thing the London Marathon has done since my father [Chris Brasher] and John Disley started the event back in 1981,” believes Brasher.
“That’s a pretty bold statement, but I love that back then there were 7,000 people registered to run, and this year we have 7,000 children and young people – from the age of four up to 17 – registered in the TCS Mini London Marathon tomorrow.
“What’s unique about the TCS Mini London Marathon is that schools will receive £10 for every child who finishes to put towards computer or sports equipment.”
TCS to donate millions
Millions of pounds will go to schools as part of this initiative with new title sponsor Tata Consultancy Services, but Brasher also hopes the TCS Mini London Marathon will inspire children and young people to get fit and enjoy the health benefits of activity for years to come.
“By 2030, at our 50th race, we’re aiming to have 50,000 children running the Mini London Marathon the day before 50,000 adults run 26.2 miles. We really hope this event inspires children to get fit in the same way the London Marathon went from mostly stick-thin men in 1981 to a sea of humanity and everyday heroes taking part in 2022.”
The first children to cross the world-famous Finish Line on The Mall tomorrow will have their efforts rewarded by a very special guest – medals will be handed to them by none other than the fastest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, fresh from setting a new world record at the Berlin Marathon last Sunday. As an Ambassador for the TCS Mini London Marathon, the Kenyan legend is sure to inspire the next generation to follow in his footsteps.
Around 600,000 children will also take part in the TCS Mini London Marathon in schools this autumn, each one of them earning a pin badge when they complete 2.6 miles.
The Weir Wolf returns – again!
To see the positive impact the Mini London Marathon can have on youngsters, look no further than David Weir – the most successful elite athlete in the history of the London Marathon and a seven-time winner of the Mini London Marathon.
Incredibly, he’ll be racing in his 23rd consecutive London Marathon on Sunday and is sure to get massive support from the legendary London crowds as he takes on Berlin Marathon winner and reigning London champion Marcel Hug.
Brasher is looking forward to the showdown: “Hug has been imperious in the way he’s been performing in his bespoke carbon-fibre wheelchair, but David Weir is always motivated for London.
“In the women’s event, the battle between Switzerland’s Manuela Schär and Australia’s Madison de Rozario will be fascinating. Madison hasn’t raced in London since 2019, so we’re looking forward to seeing her.”
After the para athletes lead the way on Sunday morning at 08:50, the elite women’s race gets underway at 09:00.
Exciting elite fields
Brasher believes we could see some special performances from the in-form athletes assembled: “I’m really excited about the elite fields; we have some amazing athletes and if the weather is good, I think we could see some incredibly fast times.“Our 2021 champion Joyciline Jepkosgei will be defending her title and the 10,000m world record holder Yalemzerf Yehualaw will be making her London debut. She ran the fastest-ever marathon debut of 2:17:23 in Frankfurt earlier this year and I hear she’s in good form, so I’m really looking forward to the women’s race.
“In the men’s event, we have six men who have run under 2:04, including Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, who is the only man other than Eliud Kipchoge to have run under 2:02, and defending champion Sisay Lemma. Kenya’s Amos Kipruto is another one to watch – so all in all I think there will be some amazing races.
No human is limited
“Kipchoge’s new world record also changes the dynamic and landscape of marathon running; it changes what people thought was possible. Eliud is a special athlete, he proved that when he was the first man to run a marathon in under two hours in Vienna in 2019.
“Every time people think the ceiling’s been reached, someone like Eliud comes along and sets a new world record, so I do think his performance last week will make a difference to our elite athletes and inspire them, just like it will inspire the everyday heroes taking part.”
One of those everyday heroes is Anoosheh Ashoori, who was in prison in Iran, sharing a cell with cockroaches and rats, before he was released in March this year.
“What kept him alive was dreaming about running the London Marathon – and he will be doing just that on Sunday in a celebration of his freedom, running for those who are still locked up,” said Brasher. “It’s such a powerful story of human fortitude in the most harrowing circumstances and one that’s sure to inspire others to take on the marathon challenge.”
The world’s most inclusive marathon
For those who can’t make it to London this weekend, the virtual TCS London Marathon offers the opportunity to be part of an amazing weekend of activity.
Brasher hopes it will encourage even more people to get active: “We’re delighted the virtual TCS London Marathon is part of the weekend. The event is one of the positives that have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are the most popular marathon on the planet, nearly half a million people applied to take part in the 2020 event, and as much as we’d love everyone to be able to take part on the streets of London, we can’t accommodate them all – so it’s great that people can sign up for the virtual TCS London Marathon and get involved, wherever they are in the world.
“People have the whole day to do it and take their time over it – they can do it with friends and family, so it’s a fantastic addition to the mass event."