The Virgin Money London Marathon today announced plans for the biosecure bubble for the historic elite-only races on Sunday 4 October.

The races will take place on a closed-loop circuit around St James’s Park in central London on Sunday 4 October. The elite men’s race will see one of the most eagerly anticipated match-ups in marathon history with world record holder and defending champion Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) going head-to-head with Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), the man who came within two seconds of his world record last year.

In the elite women’s race, defending champion and world record holder Brigid Kosgei (KEN) will return, as will the two best marathon wheelchair athletes in the world: Daniel Romanchuk (USA) and Manuela Schar (SUI).

Special permission has been granted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to allow athletes and support staff to travel and compete in the biosecure bubble, with strict guidelines on testing, travel, accommodation and competition.

Flora also announced that Paula Radcliffe, who famously won three London Marathon titles and broke two world records when Flora was headline sponsor of the event, has become an official Flora Running Ambassador to mark the partnership.

In order to create and preserve a biosecure bubble around the athletes, the following measures will be put in place:

  • Testing: Athletes will be tested for Covid-19 in their country of origin/home four days prior to travel and again on arrival at the hotel. Testing will continue at the hotel until the Friday before the event. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 or displays symptoms will be placed in quarantine immediately and, in the case of athletes, will not be able to participate in the race.
  • Athlete-only hotel: The athletes will stay in a hotel outside London which will be used exclusively by athletes and support staff, plus a team from the Virgin Money London Marathon. The hotel was chosen for its 40 acres of grounds where athletes will be able to train during Race Week inside the bubble. An extensive hygiene protocol will be in place in the hotel and it will be mandatory for everyone inside the bubble to observe social distancing rules and to wear face coverings at all times, apart from when training, while dining and in their own rooms. All athletes and their support staff will have single rooms.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Government, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), The Mayor of London, The Royal Parks and all our stakeholders for helping us put on the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon for elite athletes. Sports fans all over the world are eagerly anticipating these great races in this unique environment.

“It is our duty and responsibility to ensure this event is held in a safe and secure environment. We have looked at other examples and taken learnings from other sports which have returned to action as we developed our detailed plans for this biosecure bubble around the event.

“By finding a hotel for exclusive use and putting in place the strict testing, hygiene and security measures to protect the bubble, we are confident we have created the safest environment possible for everyone.”

The Virgin Money London Marathon also revealed details of the course for the elite races at the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Each race will comprise 19 x 2.15 kilometre clockwise laps of St James’s Park plus an extra 1345m with the Finish Line in its traditional place on The Mall.

The course will be sealed off from the public to maintain the integrity of the biosecure bubble. There is no spectator access and there will be no public viewing points along the course. (Please note: access to most of St James’s Park will be maintained for local residents and park users but the course will not be visible from inside the park.)

The BBC is planning eight hours of live coverage of the event and people will be asked to watch on TV instead.

The 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon will be The 40th Race in London Marathon history and the first to have elite-only races.

Alongside the elite races, 45,000 people have signed up to take part in the virtual 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, running the famous 26.2 mile marathon distance from home or anywhere in the world on the course of their choice. All finishers will receive the coveted finisher medal and New Balance finisher T-shirt. In addition, all runners and charities have been offered the chance to defer their place to a future London Marathon – in 2021, 2022 or 2023.