NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – The long awaited duel between the world’s two fastest marathoners, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele has been confirmed for October 4 after organizers for the London Marathon announced the race will go on despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The race had initially been set for April 26 but was shelved as the world grappled with the virus.
However, this year’s race will only feature elite athletes who will compete in a bio-secure environment.
“Elite races for men, women and wheelchair athletes will take place on an enclosed looped course in St James’s Park in a secure biosphere and times will be eligible for Olympic qualification,” a statement from the organizers on Thursday evening read.
Women’s world record holder Brigid Kosgei has also been confirmed for the race and will headline the women’s field.
The organizers further said there will be no spectator access to maintain the biosphere but BBC Sport plans to broadcast eight hours of coverage during the day.
Also, London Marathon will move from its usual April date to Sunday 3 October to give the best chance for the mass race to return in 2021.
“We had detailed plans to deliver a socially distanced mass participation event – either a run or a walk – and we were planning to utilise new technology to do this. We were looking to use a revolutionary technology using Bluetooth and ultra wideband ranging, which is about to be launched worldwide,” says Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Money London Marathon.
He adds; “Despite all our efforts, the fantastic support from all of our partners and the progress that has been made on planning for the return of smaller mass participation events that are not on the roads, it has not been possible to go ahead with a mass socially distanced walk or run.”
Despite the mass racers not allowed, there will be a virtual race on the day.
Participants will have 24 hours to complete the 26.2 miles, from 00:00 to 23:59 on Sunday 4 October. They can run, walk, take breaks and log their race on a new London Marathon app being developed by event partner TCS.