A message from Hugh Brasher, Event Director, London Marathon Events Ltd
There has been discussion on social media in recent days about our policy for guide and support runners in the London Marathon and I wanted to explain in full our current policy, which has been in place for many years.
We passionately believe in sport for all and we work very hard to support people with a huge range of disabilities, including the visually impaired, to complete the London Marathon. London is the most popular marathon in the world with more than 414,000 people applying in the ballot for the 2019 event, and the huge popularity of the event creates enormous pressure from many groups who strongly believe more places should be allocated to them.
Anyone who has a confirmed place in the London Marathon and requires a guide or support runner can apply for a free of charge place for their guide or support runner (the free of charge place means they do not get a timing chip or medal, but they do get a support/guide runner special bib and a finisher goody bag including the finisher t-shirt). In addition, our dedicated team works to facilitate any other support that a runner with a disability might need on the day – at the start, on the course or at the finish. Every year our medical director and team support runners with a myriad of complex medical needs or disabilities to complete the event.
The number of participants requesting a guide or support runner has increased every year and we are proud that we allocated places to more than 50 guide and support runners in the 2018 London Marathon. The guide and support runners do an incredible job to help others complete the 26.2 miles.
We know that guide and support runners receive a medal at the finish line as our wonderful volunteers hand out over 40,000 medals on the day and we do not police the official rule.
Since guide and support runners are not official participants, their place is withdrawn if the runner they are supporting has to pull out before the start of the race. If they were official participants, this rule could not apply and we could have the situation where people who have gained a place as a support or guide runner are participating without their runner.
We do continually review every aspect of the London Marathon and our policies and procedures. This is an ongoing year round process and includes how we can best support anyone with a disability to complete the event. The next review meeting takes place later this month and we will make a further announcement by the end of January.
We are passionate about encouraging people from all areas of society to participate in running. We know the huge physical and mental benefits running can bring to people’s lives and we are determined to inspire runners of all abilities, disabilities, ages, faiths and demographics.