RACE POSTPONED UNTIL SUNDAY 4 OCTOBER. LONDON MARATHON STATEMENT IN FULL HERE.
🏃♂️🏃♀️ A clash of the long-distance running greats not to be missed on the streets of the capital as Eliud Kipchoge goes head-to-head with Kenenisa Bekele in the Virgin Money London Marathon. Races start from just after 9am and spectating is free on the route.
Hold on to your running shoes the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon men’s race is may just be the best ever with the mouthwatering prospect of a showdown between the two fastest men of all-time.
In the blue corner is Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (main picture), the undisputed marathon GOAT who in was imperious in last year’s race winning a record fourth London Marathon in a course record 2:02.37 to become the most successful athlete in the elite men’s race in London Marathon history. He is also the official world record holder with a 2:01.39 run in Berlin in September 2018 and the first person ever to run a sub-2 hour marathon at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge last year.
In the red corner is none other than three-time Olympic gold medallist on the track, Kenenisa Bekele, who so nearly broke Kipchoge’s world record at last September’s Berlin Marathon. Bekele – who is the current world record holder for both the 5000m and 10000m – finished just two seconds outside Kipchoge’s 2018 marathon record. Fellow Ethiopian’s Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun – the second and third-placed finishers from last year – will join Bekele on the start line. Can they dethrone King Kipchogo? All will be revealed on the streets of London.
The 40th edition of the London Marathon has added significance ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics later this summer with qualification for Tokyo on the agenda. The stakes could not higher for GB runners and in the men’s race Chris Thompson and Andy Vernon are among those set to battle for a place on the Team GB plane to Tokyo alongside the likes of Derek Hawkins, Charlie Hulson and Josh Griffiths. With Callum Hawkins pre-selected they’ll all be chasing the two remaining spots and a qualifying time of 2:11.30.
Meanwhile Charlotte Purdue – who finished tenth in 2019 in a time of 2:25.38 to go third (at the time) on the all-time UK list – is expected to head the British challenge in the women’s race. This is shaping up into a fierce battle with four of the UK’s all-time top 10 female marathoners among the entries and only the first two finishers guaranteed (assuming they have the qualifying time) assured of a place on the plane to Tokyo with the third spot at the discretion of selectors.
Steph Twell, Jess Piasecki and Steph Davis are the runners, along with Purdue who have run the qualifying time. Twell having set a new Scottish record for the marathon in Frankfurt in November with a time of 2:26.40 to eclipse Liz McColgan’s 1997 time, while Piasecki clocked 2:25.28s in Florence to go third on the all-time UK list with Davis running 2:27.42 in Valencia. Add in the likes of Lily Partridge, Tracy Barlow, Hayley Carruthers and marathon debutante Alice Wright – who will eyeing a top-two finish and the qualifying time – and the GB showdown in the women’s race could be one of the talking points of the day.
Alongside the GB women’s battle for Olympic places will be the reappearance of Brigid Kosgei – who last year became the youngest women ever to win the women’s race in London at the age of 25 – back to defend her title after setting a new women’s world record at the Chicago Marathon in October; Kosgei’s new mark of 2:14.04 smashing Paula Radcliffe’s long-standing record of 16 years.
In the men’s wheelchair race watch out for David Weir – an eight-time winner of the race – who has his sights set on racing at the Tokyo Paralympics this summer which would crown a stellar career. The six-time Paralympic champion – famously part of the magical ‘Thriller Thursday’ at London 2012 when British athletes took the Paralympics by storm – first raced in the London Marathon in 2000 aged 19 years old and is taking part for an astonishing 21st year. Weir is likely to face stiff opposition in the shape of American rising star Daniel Romanchuk, Switzerland’s vastly expienced Marcel Hug and Japan’s Tomoki Suzuki who finished first, second and third respectively in last year’s race.
The women’s wheelchair race saw Manuela Schar of Switzerland take the honours in 2019 – to add to her Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo triumphs – who saw off the hot favourite and 2018 winner in Australia’s Commonwealth champion Madison de Rozario wh. Expect both to be on the start line in pursuit of 2020 glory this morning.
🕘 2020 Start Times*:
9.05am – Elite Wheelchair Races
9.10am – World Para Athletics Marathon Championships Ambulant Athletes
9.25am – The Elite Women’s Race
10.10am – The Elite Men’s Race, British Athletics & England Athletics Marathon Championships and Mass Race.
*Times are approximate and tbc closer to race day.
📍 The route: Elite races start in Blackheath, Lewisham. The mass race starts at 10am from Blackheath and Greenwich Park. From Blackheath the race heads east through Charlton and Woolwich for three miles, turns west and passes the Cutty Sark in Greenwich after six to seven miles. It crosses the River Thames at Tower Bridge (just before the 13.1 mile mark) before looping around the east end of London, past Canary Wharf in Docklands, before heading west again along the Highway and the Embankment to Parliament Square, Birdcage Walk and the final corner in front of Buckingham Palace to finish on The Mall. This is the 26.2 mile route in full together with spectator information for the day including how to get around the course and best viewing spots.
🎟️ Spectating is free on the course.