More than 45,000 participants of all backgrounds and abilities from around the world will take part in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 4 October – with almost 70 years separating the youngest and oldest runners.

The mass participation element of The 40th Race in London Marathon history invites people to complete the famous 26.2-mile distance on a route of their choice anywhere in the world, from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59 BST on Sunday.

The oldest participant is 87-year-old Ken Jones, who, incredibly, has run every single London Marathon since the inaugural race in 1981. The effervescent Jones will be running 26.2 miles near his home in Strabane, Northern Ireland with his daughter, Heather, 58.

Jones said: “I’ve no plans to retire yet. I want the medal and the T-shirt to add to my collection and to show to people what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.”

The irrepressible Eileen Noble, from Erith, south-east London, is just as inspirational. This will be the 85-year-old’s 20th marathon since taking up running in her fifties.

Noble, who will be running part of her virtual marathon with her daughter Imelda, explained why she loves the sport so much. She said: “If you have any stresses or worries it seems to make them clear away.”

A keen fundraiser, she added: “I’m raising some funds for Age UK. I will be supported by various running friends, who will accompany me for part of the way and help with drinks on route.”

The duo are an inspiration to many younger runners, including Lauryn Wood from Perth in Scotland, who will be taking part in her first-ever marathon after turning 18 two weeks ago.

Wood will be running the virtual marathon with her mum, Eileen. Both daughter and mother are coaches at Perth Strathtay Harriers, and Lauryn says she decided to take on the challenge to keep her mum company on the arduous 26.2 miles, as well as to inspire others.

She said: “I coach younger athletes at the club and I want to do the marathon as a way of showing them that anything is possible and to never give up.”