Sunday, October 4, 2020

London Marathon 2020

The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles 385 yards), usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, who reported the victory.  The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 800 marathons are held throughout the world each year  !

The London Marathon is an annual marathon  held in London, United Kingdom. Founded by athletes Chris Brasher and John Disley in 1981, it is typically held in April. The largely flat course is set around the River Thames, starting in Blackheath and finishing at The Mall.  It would have  a mass race for the public, professional races for men and women long-distance runners, elite level wheelchair races for men and a women, plus a 3-mile mini marathon event for under-17 athletes.  Since 2006, the elite race has been part of the World Marathon Majors, which includes six of the world's top level marathon races.  

The 2020 London Marathon  was held today (4.10.2020), having been postponed from the traditional April scheduling due to the COVID-19 outbreak.   This year’s event is the 40th running and used   a different course from usual, consisting of multiple laps around St James's Park. Ethiopia's Shura Kitata emerged from the rain and the gloom to become the new champion of the men's London Marathon - as Kenyan world record holder Brigid Kosgei reigned supreme in the women's race.

Only elite athletes were allowed to brave the pouring rain to run over 19.8 laps of a fenced-off course in a 'controlled secure biosphere' around St James's Park, London, today after the usual mass event was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. The remaining 45,000 amateur runners braved torrential rain and heavy wind to run their own 26.2-mile route - a challenge taken up in part by the Countess of Wessex who joined the first 1.5-miles of the Mencap running team's virtual marathon in Windsor.

Red-hot favourite professional Eliud Kipchoge - who had won all of his previous four London Marathons and had not lost over the distance in seven years - dropped alarmingly off the pace around the 22-mile mark.  Kipchoge, the 35-year-old world record holder, had no answer as a seven-strong lead group edged away from him, and he ended up finishing down in eighth.  Eventually, he beat the challenge and emerged victorious.  On the podium it was Kitata, with second placed Kenya's Vincent Kipchumba and third placed Ethiopia's Sisay Lemma. 

Prince Harry, a patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust, wished people good luck and praised participants for providing a 'lifeline' for vulnerable people amid the pandemic by raising money for charities.   Runners were urged to take to the great outdoors to run their own route - a challenge taken up in part by the Countess of Wessex.   The annual race was due to take place on April 26 but was pushed back to October 4, and it was later decided only the elite athletes would be able to compete in central London. To ensure all runners at the official event keep a safe distance apart once they finish the race, all athletes and race staff must  wore Bump devices around their necks. They will beep if two wearers get too close to each other.  In address to participants, the Duke of Sussex praised the 'extraordinary spirit' of runners taking part from his home in Los Angeles. 'This year, sadly, it's not possible for everyone to run together on the streets of London in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon,' he said.  'While we won't be together in person, we are together in spirit. And the amazing tenacity of runners from around the world is a reminder of our strength and sense of community during these difficult times.

Elite athletes ran  19 laps of the downscaled marathon route, starting near Admiralty Arch and running around St James's Park  before finishing on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.      

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei cruised to a dominant victory in the women's elite race, overcoming her rivals on an unfamiliar multi-lap course in relentless rain to triumph in two hours, 18.58 minutes.  She then ran strongly for the rest of the race, looking comfortable, with American Sara Hall producing an incredible finish to snatch second place from world champion Chepngetich in 2:22.01 to the Kenyan's 2:22.05. 

The only time Prince Harry wasn't able to attend the London Marathon was in 2014, where he recorded a message and apologised to the runners, before praising them for their efforts.  This time, runners  in the UK faced gale-force winds and torrential rain ahead of their races with a veteran runner who has participated in every London Marathon describing conditions as the worst he has seen.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4.10.2020. 

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