Record numbers to run tomorrow’s London marathon

Record numbers are expected to start the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon tomorrow morning, Sunday 22 April, after more than 41,000 registered for the race over the last four days.

When registration desks at the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo at ExCeL London closed at 17:00 today, a total of 41,469 accepted applicants had picked up their race packs.

Around 41,000 are predicted to start the race, following last year’s record field of 40,048 meaning the 38th London Marathon is on track to become the biggest yet, in the year the event celebrates its unique spirit.

The #SpiritOfLondon theme will showcase the extraordinary stories of the London Marathon’s runners, champions, volunteers and supporters as more people than ever before take on the 26.2-mile challenge.

Despite the warm weather predicted for Race Day, the 2018 event is on track to beat the record figure of 39,487 runners who completed the event in 2017.

The mass race will begin when Her Majesty The Queen steps onto a special podium in front of the Round Tower in the grounds of Windsor Castle to push the start button at10:00.

BBC Sport will relay live coverage of the start ceremony to the big screens at Blackheath to set runners on their way along the famous route from Blackheath to The Mall.

Kathrine Switzer, one of the great trailblazers in the push for gender equality in sport, will set the world’s best elite wheelchair racers on their way in pursuit of London Marathon glory at 08:55, followed five minutes later by more than 90 of the world’s top para-athletes competing for their countries in the other five races of the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup.

The event’s best ever elite women’s field will begin their quest for one of the most prestigious big city marathon titles at 09:15, a race also started by Switzer.

The American, who back in 1967 famously challenged the all-male bastion of distance running by becoming the first woman to officially enter and complete the Boston Marathon is looking forward to running her first London Marathon at the tender age of 71.

Among those competing for the prized London crown will be Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who has won eight of the nine marathon he’s run, and Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele, the second quickest man ever over the gruelling distance.

Defending champions and fellow Kenyans Mary Keitany and Daniel Wanjiru will be back in the capital looking for another win. A fourth victory in London for Keitany would equal Ingrid Kristiansen’s record, but Ethiopia’s three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba will be out to stop her. 

Reigning champions David Weir and Manuela Schär will defend their crowns in the wheelchair races. Swiss para-athlete Schär, who set a new course record last year when she became the first woman to go under 1:40 on the London course, will relish the competition from four-time London champion Tatyana McFadden. The American triumphed in Boston on Monday in atrocious conditions that forced Schär to drop out for the first time in her career.

The elites will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy-dress costume wearers, including a record 17 MPs, 13 stars of The Great British Bake Off, two watches of Grenfell Tower firefighters, and 10 runners who make up #StephensTeam as they take on the race to fundraise for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust 25 years to the day since he was murdered in a racially motivated attack in south London.

First under the famous finish gantry in The Mall will be the best young runners and para-athletes in the country competing for honours in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon, which will be started at 08:40 by British international and former Mini London Marathon runner, Callum Hawkins.

The finish will involve Royalty too when Prince Harry presents trophies to the top three elites and the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup racers.