London Marathon aims to involve 100,000 people in hybrid event this year

The London Marathon has announced details of this year’s event, which aims to involve 100,000 participants to take part either in person or virtually.

Organisers have announced that it aims to be the biggest marathon ever staged, when it takes place on Sunday 3 October.

Being planned is for a record 50,000 participants to run from Blackheath to the Mall in the capital in a traditional mass participation event. This is 7,000 more than the previous record.

Meanwhile, a virtual event, to allow runners to raise money on a course of their choice is to also take place on the day. 50,000 places are being made available for this.

The blended approach to the event comes as the UK recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic and in the hope that social distancing restrictions and lockdown will be significantly eased by October.

“With a national vaccination programme underway, we hope to see an unprecedented 100,000 people take part,” said London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher.

“The London Marathon is a wonderful example of sport as a force for good while raising millions for charity. It’s all about communities and people coming together and one of our founding pillars is 'to have fun and provide some happiness and a sense of achievement in a troubled world'.

Last year’s in-person event was restricted to elite runners only and was the first time a virtual event was staged, to ensure fundraisers could also take part. This raised £16.1m last October, which was more than a third down on the previous year's pre-pandemic mass participation event.

World record virtual event

Organisers Virgin Money have confirmed that 37,966 runners took part in last year’s virtual event and has been handed a Guinness World Records award for ‘most users to run a remote marathon in 24 hours’.

Guinness World Records editor in chief Craig Glenday said: “2020 was the year that we saw a spike in virtual record-breaking and the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon was no exception. To see that 37,966 people took part in the 2020 race is outstanding and every single participant should be proud of their efforts. We are looking forward to seeing more record-breaking attempts at the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2021.”

Brasher added: “The world record-breaking success of the virtual event in 2020 and the incredible stories from participants across the globe showed how the world’s greatest marathon brought light and hope in the darkness of the pandemic.
“We want to offer that again and we have also accelerated the plans we have been working on for some years to increase the number of finishers on the streets of London to 50,000.

“People can run wherever they are in the world, they can run for charity, they can run for their mental or physical health, or run for the sheer enjoyment of it – whatever the reason, they will be part of a unique day in the history of the London Marathon.”

Also last year organisers staged a 2.6 Challenge virtual fundraiser in April, when the 2020 event was due to take place. This involved people raising money remotely through activities involving the marathon themed numbers 2.6 or 26.

Those who entered the ballot to run in the 2021 event will find out on Monday 8 February if they have been successful. Those who are unsuccessful have “an exclusive window” between February 9-16 to enter the virtual event.

In addition, the ‘mini marathon’ involving primary schools UK wide will also take place as a virtual event. More than 110,000 children took part last year.

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