A huge response from primary schools across the UK means more than 150,000 children from more than 500 schools are signed up to become part of the world’s greatest marathon in the first virtual Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon.

Children will be completing 2.6 miles between Monday 28 September and Friday 9 October. The 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on Sunday 4 October with elite races in St James’s Park and 45,000 people in the UK and around the world running the 26.2 mile distance on the course of their choice between 00:00 and 23:59:59 BST.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “The response from schools has been fantastic. We had set an initial target of 45,000 children for this new initiative to inspire primary school children to be active and we hit that within seven days of launch.

“We all know that being physically active improves health and fitness and supports good mental health and wellbeing and it’s wonderful to know that so many children will be part of the London Marathon this year.

“Every participating school will be sent a special memento to celebrate the involvement of their children in the first virtual Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon.”

Cheska Tyler, Headteacher of Cherry Tree Primary School in Watford, said: “My previous school, Newington Green in Islington, did The Daily Mile every day and I saw what a huge difference regular exercise makes to children. Within days, the children are fitter, healthier, happier and full of energy – and much more alert when they get back into the classroom. One of the first things I did here at Cherry Tree was sign up for the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon. I’ll be running the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon this year so really want to inspire the children to be active. The 2.6 miles will be a challenge but the children will learn that, with a bit of determination and hard work, they can achieve anything – maybe they’ll run the London Marathon themselves when they’re older.”

Jeremy Meek, Executive Head of Step Academy Trust, Hailsham, East Sussex, said: “We jumped at the chance to be part of the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon. It’s something that the whole school can join in with – in fact, there are four schools in the Trust that have now signed up to take part. Being active is so important for our children as it makes a big difference to both their physical and mental health. It’s fantastic to be involved in such an iconic event, along with thousands of other children across the country – it will help give all the schools involved a real boost.”

The Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon is for children of all abilities – and the distance can be completed over two days, three days or longer. Some children will run all the time, others might jog or even walk for a period to get their breath back. Children with disabilities can complete the event in the way that meets their needs – whether that’s walking, pushing, being pushed, walking with crutches or something else. Some older children may be able to complete the whole distance in one session.

Schools can still register and all participating schools will be provided with resources to inspire their children, including video messages from an elite athlete, a downloadable running number and a poster to display in school. Plus a Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon certificate can be downloaded and printed for every child who completes the challenge. It is all free of charge.