London Marathon: Facts you may not know about the capital's famous 26.2 mile event

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge trains alongside his pacemakers within the grounds of the official hotel and biosecure bubble

The 40th London Marathon will take place virtually on Sunday October 4, 2020, after the original event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some facts about the famous event:

  • The first London Marathon took place on March 29, 1981

  • 7,055 runners set off from Blackheath for the first marathon, As many as 6,255 finished

  • There have been 1,125,810 finishers in total since that first London Marathon

  • The largest field so far was in 2019 when 42,906 started and 42,549 finished

  • 457,861 people applied to run the 40th race in 2020, compared to 20,000 for the inaugural event. Of those, 373,736 applicants were from the UK while 84,125 runners entered the international ballot

  • The 40th race was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday April 26 but was postponed to prevent large numbers gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. The finishers’ medals will still bear the original race date but a clip attached to the ribbon will show the new date

  • Around 45,000 people are expected to run the 2020 virtual race on their own route on October 4

  • 2020 is the first time the London Marathon has been held in October but next year’s event has also been pushed back to autumn and will be run on October 3, 2021

  • This year people will run in 109 countries, all between midnight and 11.59pm on October 4, UK time

  • 145 participants will celebrate their birthday on race day 2020 – 76 women and 69 men

  • Almost four out of 10 people (38.6%) taking part in the virtual marathon are aged between 40-49. More than a quarter (26.1%) are aged 30-39, a fifth (20.3%) are aged 50-59, one in 10 (9.2%) are aged 20-29, one in 20 (4.6%) are aged 60-69, while 0.3% will be aged 18-19

  • The field on October 4 will include 17 people (12 men and five women) aged between 80-89

  • The hottest London Marathon was 24.2C in 2018 while the coldest was 5.3C in 2004, which was also the wettest with 12.4mm of rain

  • The London Marathon is a Guinness World Record breaker in its own right as the largest single annual fundraising event in the world. It first set the record in 2007 and has broken it every year since. In 2019 runners raised £66.4 million for charities, meaning that a total of more than £1 billion has been raised since 1981

  • The highest total raised by an official charity of the year was £4 million by Dementia Revolution – a year-long campaign formed by charities Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK – in 2019

  • The course record for men is held by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge who finished in two hours, two minutes and 37 seconds in 2019

  • The course record for women is two hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds recorded by Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in 2003

  • Sir Mo Farah is the fastest Briton to complete the London Marathon, in two hours, five minutes and 39 seconds in 2019

  • The first wheelchair event was held in 1983

  • Australian Kurt Fearnley holds the record for the fastest wheelchair athlete to complete the London Marathon, in one hour, 28 minutes and 56 seconds in 2009

  • The fastest British wheelchair athlete over the course was David Weir who finished in one hour, 28 minutes and 57 seconds in 2009

  • The fastest female wheelchair racer was Switzerland’s Manuela Schar in one hour, 39 minutes and 57 seconds in 2017

  • Shelley Woods was the fastest British female wheelchair athlete over the course, finishing in one hour, 46 minutes and 31 seconds in 2011

  • The Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon was also unable to take place in central London this year, but more than 125,000 children have signed up to a virtual version which encourages primary school children to run, jog, walk or push the 2.6-mile distance over multiple days at any time during the period of Monday September 28 to Friday October 9

  • The London Marathon has been sponsored by Virgin Money since 2010

  • The London Marathon Charitable Trust was created in 1981 to raise money for the provision of recreational facilities in London. The surplus from the London Marathon, and other events organised by London Marathon Events Limited, goes to the trust to provide funding for initiatives that enable people to become and remain physically active regardless of age, gender, ability, race or background. The trust has awarded more than £92 million to more than 1,460 projects in London and beyond

  • The largest grant awarded by the trust was £3.45 million to fund the London Marathon community track at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

  • The Duke of Sussex is patron of The London Marathon Charitable Trust


London Marathon veteran more worried about tech than running during virtual race