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London Marathon to feature 100,000 runners in virtual and in-person events

After moving the event from April to October, organizers expect to set event and world records for field sizes in their two races

Photo by: Twitter/runnersworlduk

Just like in 2020, the London Marathon has been moved from its traditional April run date to the fall. With their race now scheduled for October 3, event organizers have announced that they will hold two races, one in-person and one virtual, and they hope to see 100,000 runners participate, with 50,000 in each event. 

A record-breaking event 

If the in-person event can go ahead as planned, this massive field will break a London Marathon record, and the virtual run will beat the 2020 virtual race total of close to 38,000 finishers, which set a Guinness World Record for “Most users to run a remote marathon in 24 hours.” It’s an ambitious goal to jump from no mass participation race one year to a 50,000-person race the next, and given the current situation around the world, the chances of an event of that size going ahead in the fall look slim. Even so, with the event still eight months away, organizers are giving it a shot with the virtual race to fall back on if in-person racing is still not possible come October. 

RELATED: Canadian results from the 2020 virtual London Marathon

Going virtual

While there’s still so much uncertainty in the world right now, selling out the virtual London Marathon event seems like a lock. In 2020, the virtual race was open to 45,000 participants, and it sold out in a matter of days. That was on short notice, too, as event organizers put off cancelling the in-person race until August. They quickly transitioned to a virtual format, and runners from 81 countries around the world registered as soon as the race was announced. 

A group of elite men (including Cam Levins in the back right) run at the 2020 London Marathon.

This year’s virtual event will be the same as last year’s. Unlike other virtual races that give participants weeks or even months to complete their runs, entrants in the London Marathon have to run their 42.2K on October 3, the same day as the in-person race. The registration process for the virtual event starts in February.

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On February 8, anyone who submitted a ballot for entry into the 2021 in-person race will be told whether they got a spot or not. Anyone from this group who didn’t get a spot gets priority registration from February 9 to 16 for the virtual race. After this week-long window, general registration will open, and if it’s anything like last year, the remaining spots will fill up quickly. The virtual race fee is about $65 for Canadian residents, and all participants will receive a medal and shirt after completing their runs. For more information, visit the event website here