London Marathon: Thousands of runners battle wind and rain for virtual race around the world

Some 45,000 people complete their own 26.2-mile route around UK and in more than 100 other countries worldwide

Tom Batchelor@_tombatchelor
Sunday 04 October 2020 18:03
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Ken Jones, 87, takes part in the historic first virtual London Marathon during gale-force winds and rain in his home town of Strabane, west Tyrone
Ken Jones, 87, takes part in the historic first virtual London Marathon during gale-force winds and rain in his home town of Strabane, west Tyrone

Tens of thousands of runners and walkers have taken part in a rain-sodden virtual London Marathon.

The event, which was postponed from its usual spring date due to coronavirus, saw some 45,000 people complete their own 26.2-mile route around the UK and in more than 100 other countries worldwide.

Many UK runners battled heavy rain, winds and flood warnings, with participants able to take part wherever they chose as long as it was completed between midnight and 11.59pm.

Runners were scattered around the four nations as well 109 other countries where participants had registered to take part.

This year’s race, the 40th London Marathon, had been scheduled for 26 April but was pushed back to 4 October. It was later decided only the elite athletes would be able to race in central London.

Competitors were only able to pound four streets rather than the traditional route from Blackheath to Buckingham Palace, with no crowds lining the circuit.

The 19.7 laps of St James’s Park saw Shura Kitata emerge from the rain and end the winning streak of four-time champion Eliud Kipchog.

In the women’s race, world record holder Brigid Kosgei beat the world champion and fellow Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, who was eventually pipped for second by Sara Hall of the United States.

Next year’s event has also been pushed back to the autumn and will be run on 3 October.

Ken Jones, 87, one of the thousands of fun-runners to take part in stormy weather, said: "The rain comes over in sheets across, and the wind has blown all the leaves off the trees.”

Mr Jones, from Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, said: "This is the worst one ever. I have never had it as bad as this.

"Normally when the weather is this miserable, I'd never run, but I have to run the 26 miles in it today.”

Runners in Wales posted videos on Twitter of their race in soggy conditions, as family members cheered them on.

The wettest London Marathon was in 1983, when runners were faced with 22.6mm of rainfall, and the hottest took place in 2018 when temperatures soared to 24.2C.

Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said most runners in the UK, especially those in the south, faced "a bit of a wet one" this year.

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