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Covid-19 protocols

Covid-19 protocols

To ensure the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon is able to go ahead and be safe for participants, volunteers and staff, London Marathon Events has spent many months working on detailed planning and made a number of changes to this year’s event. Some of the changes are minor and others are more fundamental.

Six Steps to the Start Line

Every participant in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon has been asked to follow the Six Steps to the Start Line plan to ensure the safety of everyone taking part in this year’s event. Click here to read the Six Steps in full.


Mass participants All participants in the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon on the streets of London must be able to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 lateral flow test on Sunday 3 October.

Elite athletes All international elite athletes will be asked to take a PCR test and have proof of a negative result before travelling to the UK. Abbott’s ID NOW testing, which can provide a result in 15 minutes, will be employed at the elite athlete hotel in Windsor. All athletes will be tested on arrival and then every day until Marathon Day.

Reducing touchpoints and over-crowding

Baggage To reduce the number of touchpoints at the event, there will be no baggage vehicles going from the Start to the Finish of the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon. Participants have been asked to pack any items they would like at the Finish in a kitbag, which must be handed in at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show. The official medal, New Balance finisher’s T-shirt, BUXTON Natural Mineral Water and Lucozade Sport will be added and the kitbag will be available to collect at the Finish. This new kitbag system will hugely reduce crowding and touchpoints at the most critical areas of the event – the Start and the Finish.

Start waves Participants have been asked to supply their updated predicted finish times and this data has been used to create designated starting waves. Each participant has been given a set arrival time in order to join their start wave. The start process will take place over a 90-minute period.

Bottle belts Participants are being encouraged to wear bottle belts on the day. A trial in 2019 showed participants wearing bottle belts used approximately 45 per cent fewer water bottles and enjoyed being able to drink when they wanted. This will reduce the need to take bottles and crowding around water stations, in addition to reducing the number of bottles used on the course.

Other measures to prevent crowding in certain areas include encouraging participants to only bring one supporter to the event and for that supporter to avoid spectating in busy areas.

There will also be no official pacers (runners who run at a set pace, for example, three hours, four hours, five hours etc) this year.