How to apply for this year’s virtual London Marathon

Runners can now compete in the London Marathon from anywhere in the world

Natasha Preskey@natashapreskey
Monday 08 February 2021 13:12
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Each year, hundreds of thousands of runners apply to compete in the London Marathon, entering a ballot to run the legendary race from Blackheath to The Mall in Westminster. 

Last year, almost half a million people applied for the race. However, due to the pandemic, only elite runners ran the in-person course and the rest competed remotely in a ‘virtual’ marathon, logging their progress using the marathon app. The race was postponed from April to October last year, and will also take place in October this year.

Almost 38,000 runners completed last year's virtual race, setting a world record for the biggest virtual marathon.

This year, non-elite participants will be allowed to run in the official event again, and the virtual marathon will run in addition to the physical event on the same day.

The race is set to be bigger than ever, with 50,000 in-person places on offer via the usual ballot system and 50,000 in the virtual marathon.

Marathon hopefuls will find out whether their application has been successful during the week beginning 8 February. 

However, if you’re not among those accepted to take part, then you still have the chance to compete in the race virtually. This is what you need to know about the virtual marathon. 

What is the virtual London Marathon?

The virtual marathon allows runners to take part in the race from anywhere in the world. Participants will use the Official Virgin Money London Marathon App to log their run and will still get a medal and finisher t-shirt.   

The virtual event takes place on the same date as the in-person event, Sunday 3 October, and runners will be marked as completing the race as long as they run 26.2 miles between 00:00:00 and 23:59:59 that day.  

How do I enter?

Those who entered the initial ballot and missed out on a place in the London event will be notified by email this week and will be given an exclusive priority window from 9am (GMT) Monday 8 February to Tuesday 16 February to enter the virtual event. 

General entry opens on the London Marathon website on Tuesday 16 February at 10am (GMT) and, unlike the ballot for the physical race, places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Entry costs £28 plus £10 if entering from outside the UK to cover international postage.

Can I run the virtual marathon in my garden or on a treadmill?

No. The app’s technology won’t work unless you run at least 50 metres before changing direction. 

Can I transfer to the virtual event from the physical one?

No, if you already have a place in the in-person race, you can't transfer. 

Can I run on an alternative date?

No, for your run to count you must complete the distance between 00:00:00 and 23:59:59 (BST) on Sunday 3 October 2021. But you can take breaks in this time, and complete the run in as many goes as you need. 

Click here to find out more

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