Thousands of runners will find out on Monday if they have been lucky in the ballot for this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.
Fifty thousand people are expected to take part in the event on October 3 but those who miss out in the ballot will get the chance to sign up for one of a further 50,000 places in the virtual event on the same day.
Participants can also apply for a charity place for what is set to be the biggest marathon ever.
The event’s charity of the year Macmillan Cancer Support is hoping runners and supporters will help it to raise “vital funds” so it can recover from the “devastating impact” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Claire Rowney, the charity’s executive director for fundraising, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our income, at a time when people living with cancer need our support more than ever to help navigate through this anxious period.
“The vital funds raised through runners and supporters of this year’s event will help us continue to do whatever it takes to be there for everyone living with cancer.”
Team Macmillan will include Chris Rose whose wife Angela died in February 2019 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
It had been a dream of Angela’s to take part and he ran the London Marathon weeks later with some of her ashes in a wristband so they could cross the finish line together.
Mr Rose, 40, from Rendlesham, near Ipswich, said taking part was “one of the craziest and most emotional things I’ve ever done”.
“Being part of #TeamMacmillan and getting to wear that green top means a lot to so many people and you can’t help feeling like you’re all in it together,” he said.
“I honestly can’t recommend the experience enough, and I’m already raring to get training for this year’s marathon.”
Jake Brockwell, 32, who had surgery for bowel cancer in 2019, will also run for the charity.
Mr Brockwell, from Coxheath, in Kent, lost his father Lee to bowel cancer 19 years ago when he was just 13 and said he remembered the Macmillan nurse who cared for his father was “like a superhero”.
“She reassured my dad and made him feel good, made us feel good, that’s what I remember,” he told the PA news agency.
Research for Macmillan found around one in seven people (14%) said running had helped them to destress since the first lockdown in March 2020, with a third saying outdoor exercise made them feel calmer (34%) and more positive (33%). One in five people (21%) said it made them feel mentally stronger.
But the survey of more than 2,000 people found nearly a fifth (19%) of people were not taking the time to prioritise their well-being during the current lockdown, a third (35%) were finding it harder to exercise outdoors due to cold weather and shorter days and more than one in 10 (13%) said they lacked motivation without aiming for an event or challenge.
The ballot results for this year’s marathon will be released online for the first time – rather than by post – as the mass event continues efforts to become more sustainable.
Event director Hugh Brasher said: “We know there will be many people celebrating today but we also know there will be many more who, unfortunately, were unsuccessful in the ballot.
“However, this is the best chance yet to be part of the Virgin Money London Marathon because 2021 is set to be the biggest marathon in the world.
“Unsuccessful runners can sign up to run for a charity or for our virtual Virgin Money London Marathon, which promises to be another amazing day in our history.”
The virtual event allows people to earn the same medal and T-shirt by completing 26.2 miles on October 3 on a route of their choice within the 24-hour window.
Unsuccessful ballot applicants have a priority eight-day window to book a place in the virtual marathon with any remaining places made available to the general public from Tuesday February 16 on a first-come, first-served basis.
To run the London Marathon for Macmillan, visit: https://londonmarathon.macmillan.org.uk/
– YouGov surveyed 2,054 UK adults in January 2021 for Macmillan.