On Sunday 26 April, the world’s greatest marathon celebrates another landmark moment in its extraordinary history – The 40th Race.

From the legendary hand-in-hand finish of joint winners Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen in the very first London Marathon to countless world records; from one million finishers to £1 billion raised for charity; from crazy costumes to the incredible and inspiring examples of spirit and courage, The 40th Race – the name of this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon campaign – will celebrate them all.

The 40th Race campaign was launched at a star-studded reception on Tower Bridge, the iconic halfway point of the race, tonight (Tuesday 4 February) as a special film celebrating The 40th Race was released.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “This year will be The 40th Race and we are so proud of how far the event has come since that wet day back on 29 March 1981. The London Marathon has proved to be a unique force for good and continues to have an extraordinary impact on society. It is an event that has inspired profound social change.

“Every year on Marathon Day, London is transformed. On one amazing day, the runners take on the challenge of 26.2 miles as families and friends come out to support them. Charities, which spend months championing causes and runners, line the route. Many thousands of volunteers come together and more than 750,000 spectators line the streets, cheering on every runner – it is London, and the UK, at its best.

“We look forward to celebrating the rich history of the London Marathon and, as always, we are also looking to the future of the event and how we can continue to develop and grow the world’s greatest marathon.”

Brasher was joined at the launch of The 40th Race by a number of famous faces and charity runners who will be running the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon in April, including:

  • Stephen Warnock (ex-England footballer turned BBC pundit)
  • Karen Carney (ex-England footballer turned BBC pundit)
  • Sophie Raworth (BBC newsreader)
  • Joanna Rowsell Shand (Olympic gold medallist)
  • James Cracknell (Olympic gold medallist)
  • Deborah James (co-host of You, Me and the Big C podcast)
  • Danny Mills (ex-England footballer and broadcaster)
  • Tanya Franks (EastEnders)

Joining them at the Start Line in April will be an array of sports stars from the world of athletics, cycling, cricket, football and rugby; a stellar line-up of soap stars, TV and radio presenters, and a host of social media influencers.

These include:

  • Dani Rowe (Olympic gold medallist)
  • Iwan Thomas (Olympian and TV presenter)
  • Keith Senior (Rugby League)
  • Jamie Peacock (Rugby League)
  • Shane Williams (Rugby Union and broadcaster)
  • Sir Andrew Strauss (Cricket)
  • Angus Fraser (Cricket)
  • Jake Wood (EastEnders)
  • Toby-Alexander Smith (EastEnders)
  • Stevie Basaula (EastEnders)
  • Lucy Fallon (Coronation Street)
  • Jenni Falconer (TV presenter)
  • Giovanni Pernice (Strictly Come Dancing professional)
  • Candice Brown (Great British Bake Off winner)
  • Peter Duncan (Ex-Blue Peter presenter)
  • Daniel Howell (YouTube)

Inspirational runners from the 2020 Charity of the Year, Mencap, will also be running the Virgin Money London Marathon for the first time, looking to change attitudes towards learning disabilities. The Mencap runners, include 19-year-old Aaron Plummer whose campaign video had more than 250,000 views since being shared in January.

The Ever Presents, a group of 10 men who have run every London Marathon since 1981, will take on their 40th London Marathon, alongside Louise Blizzard, who will be running her 26th London Marathon since first taking part in 1994.

In the men’s elite race, the two fastest marathon runners of all time, world record holder Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) and Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) go head-to-head while women’s world record holder and defending champion Brigid Kosgei (KEN) leads the greatest female marathon field ever assembled, as she takes on 2018 champion Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) and world champion Ruth Chepngetich (KEN).

In the wheelchair races, defending champions Manuela Schar (SUI) and Daniel Romanchuk (USA) will look to continue their dominance while British athletes will be looking to secure a place at the Tokyo Olympic Games as the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon is the official British Athletics qualifying race.