At least 40,000 runners are running through the streets of the capital as the London Marathon makes its triumphant return.
Swarms of fitness enthusiasts tied the start line in Greenwich for the 26-mile run after Covid-19 saw the event stretch for 889 days.
And it looks like the weather will be in their favor throughout the season, with the capital staying dry and fine this morning, ending at The Mall.
The mild temperatures will undoubtedly come as a huge relief to the pros, who have a £40,000 prize available for the first person to cross the finish line.
The marathon was replaced in 2020 with a virtual race where participants chose their own route.
This year’s virtual event will run alongside the London race for the first time today – with another 40,000 participants scheduled to attend.
This is the first time that runners have tackled the traditional route of the marathon in October instead of in the spring.
Only the date is not the change. There were no bags at the start and runners were instead asked to leave any items they would need at the finish line at the Axel Center when they collected their numbers.
There will be no volunteers hanging the medals around the necks of the finishers, who will instead find their medals in their bags.
Large groups would not wait at the start line together, with participants being asked to alternate sets in over 40 waves over a 90-minute period without any official pacers this year.
Participants are being encouraged to wear a bottle belt so they can have a drink during the day to further reduce touchpoints, and have been asked to invite only one supporter to reduce congestion along the route .
Those running in central London would have to be able to show a negative lateral flow test for COVID-19.
In a message to participants, event director Hugh Brasher – whose father Chris Brasher co-founded the London Marathon in 1981 – said the event would “showcase the true spirit of the London Marathon at its best”, which shared Made of experience and solidarity.
“What we have lost in the last 18 months is togetherness. Solidarity in mind, body and spirit,” he wrote.
“Back in 1981, one of the founding objectives of the London Marathon was ‘to have fun and provide some joy and a sense of accomplishment in a troubled world’.
“Forty years later, those words have never been more appropriate.”
Mr Brasher quoted the program’s campaign slogan as saying: “It will be an extraordinary day when we run together.”
London Marathon participants have raised over £1bn for good causes during the past 40 years and Mr Brasher said it was “one of the greatest days of the year for fundraising for charities in incredibly difficult times”. there will be a”.
And they’re off!
Eight of the Ever Presents – who have run every London Marathon – will run again this year. Seven will run in London while 88-year-old Ken Jones, from Strauben, Co Tyrone, will run closer home.
Changes have also been made to improve the experience for slow participants following criticism in 2019.
Fifty tailwalkers would walk the entire route at a speed of eight hours, and a music bus with a DJ would follow them after the third mile.
Eight aid squad members will be available from 16 miles onwards to assist anyone who struggles, and they remain in place until the tailwalkers pass.
Olympic BMX silver medalist Kay White will start the runners-up in the mass race and famous faces taking part include former England cricket captain Sir Andrew Strauss.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock and theater star Carrie Hope Fletcher, currently playing the lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production Cinderella, will be among the first to run the London Marathon.
Lucy Harvey of Poole, Dorset, who turned 18 on Saturday, will be the youngest runner, while 87-year-old Koichi Kitabateke of Japan is set to be the oldest.
There will be around 1,500 runners raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, the official charity of the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2021.
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