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London Marathon Announces the Race Will Be Held for Elites Only in October

Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele are expected to headline the men’s race.

  • The London Marathon will go off in October with elites only.
  • Organizers chose to stage the race in a more controlled environment, instead of the usual course.
  • This opens up the chance for the much-anticipated matchup between world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.

It’s official—the 40th edition of the London Marathon will run on its rescheduled date of October 4, but it will be for the elite athletes only.

The announcement on August 6 came after months of deliberation among organisers, and long after most of the marathon majors—Boston, NYC, Chicago, and Berlin—had cancelled their 2020 races. The only marathon major to take place in any capacity in 2020 so far has been the Tokyo Marathon, which was also elites-only, back on March 1.

These races will not be held on the normal London road course; instead, it will take place on a looped course inside a secure biosphere at St James’s Park. No spectators will be allowed at the venue.

“The London Marathon is far more than just a marathon,” Event Director Hugh Brasher said in a press release. “It brings society together in a moment of celebration of all that is good about humanity. We believe that Sunday, October 4 will be a London Marathon like no other, and The 40th Race will take the spirit of the world’s greatest marathon to every corner of the globe, with runners raising vital funds for the charities that have been so severely affected by the economic effects of the pandemic.”

The two fastest marathoners in history, Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39 at 2018 Berlin) and Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41 at 2019 Berlin), are expected to headline the men’s race. Other major stars expected to be there are women’s world record holder Brigid Kosgei, and wheelchair racers Manuela Schär and David Weir.

As for runners who were signed up to run as part of the mass field, the London Marathon is offering a number of options, starting with a virtual 26.2, in which participants will receive a medal and t-shirt. All runners and charity runners will also be able to defer their entries to either the 2021, ’22, or ’23 races.

“We know how disappointing it is that the COVID-19 pandemic means that it’s not possible this year to run the famous course on the streets of London,” Brasher said in the press release.

It should be noted that the 2021 race is scheduled for October 3, instead of its normal April date. This was done to give the mass race the best chance of happening due to the ongoing pandemic.

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