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The London Marathon: 26.2 Miles of History

On 26th April 2020, the London Marathon will be celebrating its 40th anniversary, with over 40,000 runners signed up to celebrate the occasion in the best possible way.

Well… that’s the plan! Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak threatens to postpone the 2020 London Marathon for the first time in its 40-year history. However, it wouldn’t be the first time that the event has been shrouded in controversy or suspense.

We’ve picked out 26 of the most notable events from the last four decades.

Let’s jog your memory…

History of the London Marathon Route Map

START.  1979 – Chris Brasher and John Disley inspired after running NY marathon.

1980 – Organisers secure £50,000 sponsor financing from Gilette.

1981 – The first official London Marathon was run by 7,590 people, after more than 20,000 applications were received. American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen were joint-winners in the men’s race after deciding to cross the line hand-in-hand.

1982 – Massive spike in interest following inaugural race - 90,000 runner applications received.

1983 – First wheelchair race held.

1984 – Sports Aid Foundation names as the event’s first ‘official charity’, the marathon has chosen one or two official charities every year since.

1985 – Matthew Parris took the title of ‘Fastest MP’. The Conservative politician crossed the line with 02:32:57 on the clock.

1986 – London Mini Marathon launched – staged alongside The London Marathon on the same day, this 3-mile race is for young athletes aged 11-17 and is only open to London-based runners.

1993 – Golden Bond scheme – guaranteeing entry places for charity runners who pledge to meet minimum fundraising amount.

1994 – Finish line moved from Westminster Bridge to The Mall, where it remains today

1995 – At 25 years old, Malgorzata Sobaska became the youngest ever female winner, coming home in a time of 02:27.53.

1996 – Flora begin their 14-year stint as event title sponsor.

1999 In it for the long run – Mick Gambrill and Barbara Cole became the first couple to get married while taking part in the event.

2000 – 17-year-old Mo Farah (that’s Sir Mo Farah to you!) won his third London Mini Marathon* in a row.

2002 – Blood tests introduced for elite runners.

2003 – Paula Radcliffe set the women’s marathon world record (02:15:25), a time that remains unbeaten.

2004 – Kenyan double – Kenyan athletes Evans Rutto and Margaret Okayo won the men’s and women’s titles, respectively.

2005 – Paula Radcliffe takes a “pit stop” but still comes home in 02:17:42

2007 – Tragedy struck when 22-year-old David Rogers died after the race having drunk too much water. It was the ninth fatality to occur since the event’s inception.

2008 – Buster Martin was thought to have become the oldest person to complete the race at the grand old age of 101 but Guinness World Records didn’t award him the title due to a dispute about his actual age.

2009 – Australia’s Kurt Fearnley set a world record for the Men’s Wheelchair Race with a time of 01:28:57.

2010 – Virgin Money became the latest company to sponsor the event, in 2020, they complete a decade of sponsorship. As well as financial backing, Virgin Money Gifting was set up to facilitate online donations (including Gift Aid) so that money would go directly to where it is needed.

2011 – Steve Chalke topped the charts for the highest amount of money raised by an individual runner – raking in £2.3m for his social action charity, Oasis.

2013 – American wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden set the women’s course record, winning the race in 01:46:02.

2018 – Hottest ever London Marathon (24C)

2019 – fastest ever time set by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (02:02:37) – Later in 2019, Eliud also became the first man to run a marathon distance in under 2 hours, with the help of some controversial Nike running shoes at a special event in Berlin.

2020 – The “Ever Presents” club is made up of runners that have completed every London Marathon event since it launched in 1981. As we head into the 2020 event, there are only 10 “Ever Presents” remaining.

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Cameron is a young(ish) family man finding whatever time he can to read, write and kick a football around. His weekends involve getting the kids out in the Cheshire countryside for adventures, increasingly involving tents! Photography is the newest of his hobbies – documenting days out and doing his best to capture wildlife on film. Follow his blogs here for a candid view of family fun in the great outdoors.

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