Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson visited the London Marathon Expo at the Excel centre this morning to greet runners in tomorrow's first ever Virgin London Marathon.

"I hope everyone participating has a wonderful day," he said. "The weather looks great and we're hoping to raise more money than ever before. I hope everyone has a real blast."

Record numbers of runners have been visiting Expo since it opened on Wednesday to register for the race, and to collect their running numbers and Ipico Timing chips. Registration will close this afternoon at 5.00pm when more than 35,000 are expected to have signed up for Sunday's big event.

Sir Richard visited the Expo with members of his team of celebrity runners, former London champion Tegla Loroupe, singers Michelle Heaton and Natalie Imgruglia, and TV actor Ricky Whittle. After officially starting the elite races tomorrow, Branson will join his celebrity team, plus a human caterpillar of 34 people which includes his daughter, Holly, and son, Sam. All of Richard's team are raising money for the Virgin Unite charity.

Asked whether he was anxious about completing the course, he said: "Yeah, I'm sure everyone in this room who is running has an element of nervousness. Twelve hours ago I was in the States, and moving about all over. I hope I have done enough.

"I love all sports. If you can keep your body fit and healthy, everything is possible. The moment you let your body go, it all goes. It's wonderful when you realise what you can do by keeping yourself fit and healthy."