London: Record numbers are expected to start the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday (April 22) after more than 41,000 has registered for the race, organisers said.
When registration desks closed on Saturday afternoon, a total of 41,469 accepted applicants had picked up their race packs, Xinhua news agency reported.
Around 41,000 are predicted to start the race, following last year’s record field of 40,048 meaning the 38th London Marathon is on track to become the biggest yet.
Despite the warm weather predicted for race day, the 2018 event is on track to beat the record figure of 39,487 runners who completed the event in 2017.
The mass race will begin when Queen Elizabeth steps onto a special podium in front of the Round Tower in the grounds of Windsor Castle to push the start button at 10.00 a.m. (British time) in the morning.
Kathrine Switzer, one of the great trailblazers in the push for gender equality in sport, will set the world’s best elite wheelchair racers on their way in pursuit of London Marathon glory at 08:55, followed five minutes later by more than 90 of the world’s top para-athletes in the other five races of the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup.
The event’s best ever elite women’s field will begin their quest for London Marathon titles at 09:15, a race also started by Switzer.
The American, who back in 1967 famously challenged the all-male bastion of distance running by becoming the first woman to officially enter and complete the Boston Marathon is looking forward to running her first London Marathon at the age of 71.
Among those competing for the title will be Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who has won eight of the nine marathon he’s run, and Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele, the second quickest man ever over the gruelling distance.
Defending champions and fellow Kenyans Mary Keitany and Daniel Wanjiru will be back in London looking for another win. A fourth victory in London for Keitany would equal Ingrid Kristiansen’s record, but Ethiopia’s three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba will be out to stop her.
The professionals will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy-dress costume wearers.
Prince Harry will present trophies to the top three finishers and the World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup racers.