2020 London Marathon Cancelled - Now What?

The above video was recorded on August the 7th 2020

In it I give details about what the organisers of the London Marathon have stated publicly about the 2020 event. Namely:

  • The mass start event will not take place this year
  • There will be an Elites only race in St James's Park on the 4th of October 2020
  • There will be a virtual race on the same day as the Elite only race

We live in "interesting" times.

The situation with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is still changing on a daily basis. Which has not helped the organisers to try and develop solutions that would keep everyone safe and allow the mass-start event to take place.

Never mind - at least there's a virtual race and an elite event. So the show will go on in some form or another in the 40th anniversary year.

Virtual Race

If you had a ballot place, charity place or good for age place for this year's event you will be offered the opportunity to run the virtual race. Or you can defer to 2021, 2022 or 2023. Or you can choose to run the virtual race AND defer!

If you decide you want to take part in the virtual race you will need to confirm that decision from the 12th August. You will also need to pay £20. If you're outside the UK there will be an additional £5 to cover the additional postage costs of delivering your finisher's medal and t'shirt to you.

If you don't have a place already for the 2020 London Marathon but you'd like to take part in the virtual race. Then you may get a chance to apply for one of the limited number of places that will be made available to apply for from the 26th of August. 

All those who do take part in the virtual London marathon will need to run a distance of 26.2 miles during the 24 hours that is the 4th of October 2020.


With less than 8 weeks before the virtual race takes place it's important that you assess your current level of fitness and then decide how best to approach the remaining training and the race. This is especially important if you've not been keeping up with your training plan - because you thought the mass-start event would be cancelled. 

I've created the - London Marathon Countdown Clock so you can keep tabs on how much training time you have left. 


The virtual event can be run anywhere in the world. But doing it will involve a different set of challenges that you wouldn't encounter when taking part in an organised/licensed road race. So there will be a little bit of homework and planning required of you to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible on the day.

A Decent Route

You won't be able to run the usual London Marathon route as all the roads will be open to traffic as per any other day. You won't be allowed in to St James's Park to join Kipchoge et al either. So, you're going to have to pan your own route. Ideally somewhere without traffic and not too many other people to dodge. That's quite a challenge. So best get your thinking hat on and bust out your Ordinance Survey maps.

Hydration & Nutrition

This is something else that is usually laid on for you during an organised road race. But for the virtual London Marathon - you'll have to organise your own. Your options are to carry your own drinks and gels etc with you. Using a hydration back-pack, vest or belt. Organise some pit-stops on route where you can pick some up. Or get a friend or relative to be your support crew and either ride along side you on a bike (if that can be done safely) and hand things to you as you need them. Or arrange for them to meet you at set points on your route.

If you intend to run the virtual 2020 London Marathon you can check how much time you have left to train here - London Marathon Countdown Clock. I've also added countdown timers for next year's race and the Elite race too.

Good For Age (GFA)

The London Marathon organisers have said that people can use their times for the virtual race to apply for GFA place in next year's event. However, there will be some additional requirement of proof. Though what those are and how they're to be verified has not been announced at the time of writing this article.

If you are intending to aim to comlete the virtual marathon in a GFA time, then planning a decent 'traffic-free' route and getting some support is going to be all the more important. It would also be a good idea to run with others of similar ability to summulate race conditions and give you a boost. 

What if you become ill?

Definitely DON'T RUN if you have any symptoms of Covid-19,  because this virus affects your lungs. Doing anything that will increase your rate of breathing and get you to breath more deeply will potentially make things far worse and more quickly. This applies to your training runs and the virtual race. 

Do you want my Immune System & Home Workout Guides?

Expert advice to Boost your Immune System and Simple Home Workouts for Runners to help keep you in good shape (bodyweight only - no special equipment needed).

Elite Only Race

  • Will take place in St James's park in a secure biosphere with no spectaotors
  • Due to the size and shape of the park the race will need to be run over multiple laps
  • There will be Men's and Women's races for both able bodies and wheelchair athletes
  • For the men's race both Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele are due to take part. This is being touted as quite the duel as they're the only two human's to have completed an official marathon in under 2 hours and 2 minutes!
  • For the women's race Brigid Kosgei the current world marathon record holder will be taking part.
  • David Weir and Manuela Schar have been confirmed to be taking part in the wheelchair races.
  • The rest of the elite field should be announced at some point during August
  • The BBC will be covering the event in full

Details of the Race can be found here

The 2021 London Marathon

Next year's race will not take place in April either. The new date will be Sunday 3rd October.

The ballot for a place in next year's London Marathon will open on the same day as this year's virtual and elite races = Sunday the 4th October 2020.

About the author 

Coach D

Hi, I'm Dave. I'm a UK Athletics qualified and licensed Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF), Endurance Event Group Coach and Certified Running Technique Coach. I coach groups and individuals of all abilities both online and in person.

I particularly enjoy coaching beginner and improver runners in the 40+ age range.

I'm also a regular recreational runner and I've been competing in races from 5k to marathon distance for over 30 years.

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