Virtual London Marathon could see world record number of entries

By Toby Porter

This year’s London Marathon is aiming for a world record 100,000 entries on October 3.

But south-east London residents can breathe a little easier – because organisers are inviting half of those to run it virtually, wherever they are on the planet.

Up to 50,000 places are available for runners to take on the world’s greatest marathon on the course of their choice from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59 BST with an app on 3 October, whether it’s in their Blackheath back garden or in the Borneo jungle.

On the same day, a record 50,000 participants will run from Blackheath to The Mall in the traditional mass-participation Virgin Money London Marathon on the streets of the capital – an increase of more than 7,000 on the previous finisher record.

The virtual London Marathon was held for the first time in 2020, when more than 37,000 runners, from all corners of the world, completed a 26 miles 385 yards course. 

Last week it was confirmed the final finishing total of 37,966 means it bags an official Guinness World Records title for the ‘Most users to run a remote marathon in 24 hours’.

Hugh Brasher, Virgin Money London Marathon Event Director, said: “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. One of our founding pillars is ‘to have fun and provide some happiness and a sense of achievement in a troubled world’.

“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 hope in the darkness of the pandemic. We want to offer that again. We have also accelerated the plans we have been working on for some years to increase the number of finishers to 50,000.

“They will be part of a unique day in the history of the London Marathon on Sunday 3 October.”

Also returning to the streets of the capital on Sunday October 3 is the mini London Marathon alongside the virtual mini London Marathon for primary schools nationwide. More than 110,000 children took part in the first virtual event last year.

Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday said: “To see that 37,966 people took part in the 2020 race is outstanding and every single participant should be proud of their efforts.”

Everyone who entered the ballot for the 2021 event will find out on Monday February 8 if they have been successful. Unsuccessful applicants will have a window from Tuesday February 9 to Tuesday February 16 to enter the virtual event.

General entries will open on Tuesday 16 February, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Entries are £28 (plus £10 for entries outside the UK to cover postage). All finishers will receive their running numbers before the event and their finisher medal and T-shirt post-event.

For details of the ballot, click here.

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