Runners in the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon will be given a Royal send-off on Sunday 23 April when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will be the event’s official race starters, along with double Olympic rowing gold medallists Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
Their Royal Highnesses are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma and change the conversation on mental health for everyone. They have pledged to make this year’s race ‘the mental health marathon’ and are encouraging runners, whatever great cause they are supporting, to wear the blue Heads Together headband that will be given to them when they collect their race number.
The three Royals will push a giant button at exactly 10:00 to send 35 elite men and more than 39,000 mass race runners on their 26.2-mile journey from Shooters Hill in south east London to Westminster.
Earlier, Glover and Stanning, who won the women’s coxless pairs gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016, will start the seven World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup races for wheelchair and ambulant athletes, and the elite women’s race featuring many of the best marathon runners in the world.
Glover and Stanning will then step down from the Start podium and join the mass field on the run from Blackheath to The Mall. The pair are aiming to raise as much money as possible for their respective charities and to beat each other to the Finish Line. Stanning is raising funds for the Royal British Legion and Glover for the Brain and Spine Foundation.
Among the elite athletes who will be racing away ahead of them will be Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele, two-time world champion Abel Kirui, two-time London Marathon women’s champion Mary Keitany, and the current men’s and women’s world champions, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Mare Dibaba.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old supermum Jo Pavey is just one of 19 of the best British distance runners in the country who will be vying for a handful of coveted places on the nation’s marathon team for this summer’s World Athletics Championships in London.
There will also be more than 70 para-athletes competing in the fourth World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup, including reigning wheelchair champion Marcel Hug and Boston Marathon winner Manuela Schär, plus Britain’s six-times Paralympic champion David Weir who’s going for a record seventh London Marathon victory.
The elites will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy dress costume wearers, including four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington, TV presenters Sophie Raworth, Mark Chapman and Jenni Falconer, EastEnders star Adam Woodyatt, and all three members of the indie-pop outfit Scouting for Girls.