London Marathon 2020: how amateur runners can take part in the virtual race and date the marathon will take place in 2021

Regular runners are instead being encouraged to participate in a virtual event

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya is among the elite runners who will participate in this year's race (Getty Images)
Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya is among the elite runners who will participate in this year's race (Getty Images)

The London Marathon was cancelled for regular runners earlier this year.

The race will instead be contested solely by elite runners and will be held in St James’ Park.

The prestigious marathon had been pushed from its usual April date to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But not all hope is lost for amateur runners who will be able to participate in a virtual race.

Why has the race been cancelled?

Race director Hugh Brasher explained the cancellation reasons in a statement.

He said: “We had hoped by moving our event to October, by changing the way we organised the event and by using some amazing proximity technology that is about to be launched worldwide, we would be able to safely run or walk the 26.2 miles from Greenwich to Westminster and, in doing so, demonstrate one of the founding principles of the London Marathon – to show a sense of achievement in a sometimes troubled world.

“However the recent surges in Covid-19 as lockdown was eased and the cancellation of the trial return of spectators at sporting events has stopped us in our tracks. Therefore we cannot embark on that intensely personal journey from Blackheath to Buckingham Palace, with the crowd cheering us on, with the gods of our sport leading the way, running together in mind, body and spirit with tens of thousands of people.”

What now for runners?

Runners who successfully applied for the 2020 London Marathon can now defer their entry until 2021, 2022 or 2023.

The deferral process will open on September 1.

Everyone who had a place for 4 October 2020 or who had already deferred their entry to 25 April 2021 will still have the chance to take part in The 40th Race by running the famous 26.2-mile marathon distance from home or anywhere in the world on the course of their choice. All finishers will receive the coveted finisher medal and exclusive New Balance finisher T-shirt.

Runners will be contacted by race organisers by email on 12 August to ask you to confirm if you would like to take part in The 40th Race from home.

What’s happening this year?

The elite race will still go ahead on October 4.

Instead of the usual cross-city race elite runners will be required to perform 19.8 laps of St James’ Park in front of no crowds.

Approximately 30 to 40 athletes will take place with Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele both expected to participate.

When will the 2021 race take place?

The 2021 race has also been moved to October to allow as much time as possible for life to return to normal following the coronavirus pandemic.