Thousands of children take part in the TCS Mini London Marathon and cross the world-famous Finish Line on The Mall
The reimagined TCS Mini London Marathon took place today, with thousands of children and young people from across the UK taking on 2.6K or one-mile events finishing on The Mall – making them the first participants to experience this year’s spectacular new digital gantry.
TCS London Marathon Event Director Hugh Brasher was at the Start to watch the participants kick-off a bumper Marathon Weekend, with the 26.2-mile adult event taking place tomorrow.
“This is just the beginning, in more ways than one,” said Brasher. “Our ambition is to have 50,000 children taking part by 2030 – that’s 50,000 children getting active, experiencing the mental and physical benefits of exercise and learning healthy habits for life every year – and potentially millions of children over time.
“There’s a long way to go, but seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of kids of all ages and abilities on the Start Line today has made me more determined than ever to get there.”
World record holder and marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge, an ambassador for the TCS Mini London Marathon, was at the Finish to hand out medals to the first young athletes over the line.
Like Brasher, he extolled the benefits of activity for children: “Running is healthy for your body and your mind. It helps children do well at school and build their fitness, which is why I encourage kids to run for 15 minutes every day. Running makes a real difference. It is the best.”
First off at the Start were the TCS Mini London Marathon championship runners – the mini equivalent of the elites – who competed over 2.6K, in age categories ranging from under-13s to under-17s, along with wheelchair and ambulant athletes.
Rosie Porter, 15, and Bebe Jackson, 16, met in 2022 at the Paralympic Development Academy and their friendship has grown ever since. They were joint winners of this year’s under-17 women’s ambulant category and crossed the Finish Line together, hand-in-hand – capturing the spirit of the original London Marathon in 1981, where winners Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen also held hands at the finish.
Bebe said: “It was always our plan to cross the line together – we’ve always been best friends and best friends don’t leave each other on the line. It was very hard, but with my friend Rosie next to me the whole time I was motivated.
Rosie agreed: “It was very hard, but knowing we were running for good causes helped.”
“We’re both running for charity, explained Bebe. “I’m running for Steps because I have a club foot myself, and Rosie is running in memory of someone she lost to breast cancer. We both raised a lot of money.”
Twelve-year-old Lucas McElroy was the first home in the under-14 boys wheelchair category. He said of his race: “It felt good. My tactics were to go at my own pace and try my best at the end. I started wheelchair racing when I was about nine and hope one day to be in the Paralympics.”
Last year’s under-17 men’s wheelchair champion Illias Zghoundi took the win again this year. The 16-year-old attends Paralympic and London Marathon legend David Weir’s Weir Archer Academy: “I’d like to be in the Paralympics at some point soon,” said Illias. “It’s a great honour to win a race that Weir has also won in the past.”
But the event wasn’t just about inspiring the next generation of athletics legends – as alluded to by Brasher, this year the TCS Mini London Marathon has opened up to give all children and young people aged from 4 to 17 the chance to experience the thrill of crossing the world-famous Finish Line, whatever their ability.
In an extra incentive for schools to get involved, new title sponsor Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is giving schools £10 for each child who finishes the event, to be spent on IT or PE equipment – money that again will help to set children and young people on the path to happier, healthier lives.
The TCS Mini London Marathon in schools event is also taking place this month – giving around 600,000 children the chance to run, jog, walk or wheel 2.6 miles in their schools by Friday 21 October. It’s free for schools to register and each child who completes the challenges receives a commemorative pin badge to celebrate their achievement.