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After a two year absence, the iconic London Marathon is back. On Sunday, around 45,000 amateur runners will follow the elite athletes around the streets of England’s capital city, and it will be a welcome sight after the event was restricted to the professionals only in 2020.
People were still able to enter virtually last year, and that option has again been extended to entrants his time around – who won’t have to do the whole 26.2 miles in one go but must complete them within a 24 hour period.
That means that proceedings will technically get underway the moment the clock strikes midnight on Saturday night, with some 50,000 people expected to be joining in from afar.
This year the race returns to its traditional Blackheath starting point, and it’s the mini-marathon for 11-17-year-olds which will take place first.
The elite wheelchair races will follow, followed by the elite women, the elite men, and then the masses.
While spectators usually line the streets of London for the event, residents in London and those travelling from afar have been asked to be cautious.
Organisers are encouraging people to watch the race, which is live on BBC television, from the comfort of their homes. People have also been asked to downloads the official Virgin Money London Marathon App, which means the progress of all runners can be tracked.
However you’re watching Sunday however, here’s a guide to when the races are starting, and how long they’ll take.
12am: Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon – that’s right, the virtual competitors may even be flashing past your house with a head torch just as the clock strikes midnight. And if you live near an ideal running route, expect to see a few out and about all day – participants have until 11.59pm on Sunday to submit their run, or runs, just so long as they hit 26.2 miles.
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8.30am: Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon – first to go in London itself will be the three-mile mini-marathon runners, aged from 11-17. These are usually divided into age groups and in 2019, Jack Agnew was the quickest runner home in just 11:39. Expect all runners to be finished their respective races within about 21-22 minutes though.
8.50am: Elite wheelchairs – last year, Canada’s Brent Lakatos was the male winner, in 1:36:04, and Holland’s Nikita den Boer the female winner in 1:40:07. Expect those towards the back fo the field to be well over the two-hour mark though.
9am: Elite women – in 2020, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei dominated to win in 2:18:58. For clarity, Bo Hummels of Holland was 18th in 2:39:54, so don’t expect to be glancing at the finish line at midday expecting to see any elite women come in.
9.30am: Elite man – Ethiopian runner Shura Kitata didn’t hang around in 2020, winning in 2:05:41. Again, expect the vast majority, if not all, of the elite men to be back before the clock strikes 12.
From 9.30am to 11am: Mass start – then the fun starts. Once the elite men are safely underway, runners will jog, canter, walk, or in some cases limp behind them.
Some will want a seriously good time, others simply to raise money for charity, and the array of outfits will vary from shorts and vests to fancy dress.
The average time in this category can range between 3:30:00-4:10:00 for men and 3:50:00–4:20:00 for women, but if you are one of those cheering on the course, you can do for considerably longer than early afternoon. Expect many runners to be long after the five-hour mark.
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