Participants took on one-mile or 2.6K courses in the heart of the capital on Saturday 22 April
There were beaming smiles and joyful faces on The Mall today (22 April) as a record-breaking number of children crossed the famous Finish Line and picked up their medals at the TCS Mini London Marathon.
More than 8,000 participants were cheered on by crowds of families and friends as they took on one-mile or 2.6K courses in the mass participation and championship events, designed for schoolchildren of all abilities and the best young athletes.
A standalone event for the second year, the TCS Mini London Marathon kicks off a bumper weekend of inspiring activity, with the 26.2-mile adult event taking place tomorrow.
TCS London Marathon Event Director Hugh Brasher reflected on today's event, as participants crossed the Finish Line to celebrate with medals and high-fives.
“We want our events to be fun, fulfilling and enjoyable for everyone who takes part, but in particular the children here today,” said Brasher.
“It’s so important for kids to enjoy healthy activities like running, so the more children we can get doing events like the TCS Mini London Marathon, junior parkrun and The Daily Mile, the better.”
“The TCS Mini London Marathon is for everyone, whatever their ability, and we’re delighted today is the biggest edition so far.
“We’re hoping to have 50,000 participants by 2030, and we’re also encouraging children who couldn’t make it along today to sign up for the TCS Mini London Marathon in schools and be part of a Guinness World Records attempt.”
One runner who was inspired by the Mini London Marathon as a child is world 1500m champion Jake Wightman, who returned today to be the official starter. He also awarded medals to the winners of the championship races, in which young athletes from across the UK raced in the Under-13s to Under-17s category, as well as those in the Ambulant and wheelchair events.
Innes FitzGerald, who is from the southwest region, was thrilled to win the Under-17 women’s race (8:11) for a second year in a row.
She said: “I’m really happy. There were a lot of nerves at the beginning, as I was defending my title from last year, but once I got going, I felt good. There were a couple of others on my tail at the beginning, but I managed to get rid of them. The nerves never go away, but I’m learning how to deal with them and not let them get to me. It’s a fantastic day.”
Under-17 men’s winner James Dargan, who is from the southeast region and completed the course in a time of 7:19, was also proud of his performance.
He said: “I will take that. Last year it was a bit different, and I went too early, which was on me. My coaches told me to sit and kick. I don’t normally have a kick, so something must be working in training!
“The London Marathon finish is already great, and to win from such a strong field was brilliant.”
Evan Grime, who had his eye on the Under-15 boys’ trophy, was delighted to finish first in a time of 7:39.
The youngster, who is from the northwest region, said: “It was a good race. The first 2.3K it was me and Matthew Clarke, but coming round the corner I dropped back into third. That happened the last two years, when I finished second and third, but I found something extra today. I always wanted to win this year.”
Thomas Thake brought home the win for a second year, clinching the Under-13 boys’ title.
He said: “I won last year, and I always wanted to do the same this year. I started much stronger and the favourites all went to the front in a fast start. That removed some stress, and I led the first 100m before sitting behind the group and reaching The Mall. I just sprinted and went for home with a big kick.”
There was plenty of excitement and enthusiasm on The Mall as friends, teachers and family supported thousands of schoolchildren aged 4-17 at the mass participation event.
Bobby Matthews, seven, from south London decided to enter the one-mile event so he could run with his dad.
He said: “My New Year’s Resolution was to run with my dad. It was really fun running with him today and cool passing Buckingham Palace. I’m going to put my medal in my bedroom and come back next year too.”
Nika Dehtiarova, 10, and her seven-year-old sister Alisa, were pleased with their achievement too.
Nika said: “At first, I felt like I was flying and then I got tired, but I still wanted to finish.”
Their mother Natalia said it was important for the girls to “feel normal” and support their school in Richmond, which had made them feel at home since they fled the war in Ukraine in May 2022.
Five-year-old twins Simar and Sehej Grewal, who are from Uxbridge, were back for a second year.
Sehej said: “The best part was everyone high-fiving us along the way. I was very happy and enjoyed it. We’re going to come back and collect more medals.”
To encourage participation – and support schools – every participant aged 17 or under who finished the 2023 TCS Mini London Marathon today earned a £10 voucher from title partner TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) for their school to spend on PE or IT equipment.
Last year, schools that benefitted from the £10 donation were able to purchase new PE equipment, including brand-new basketball posts, gymnastics mats and jumping tables, badminton rackets and footballs.
Schools can also still sign up to be part of the TCS Mini London Marathon in schools, which is aiming to create a new Guinness World Records title for ‘the most pledges received for an exercise campaign in one month’.
This is a free-of-charge challenge for children and young people to run, jog, walk or wheel one mile in their schools any time between Monday 17 April to Friday 12 May. Schools can enter for free now here.