THE mass participation London Marathon has been cancelled this year after being postponed due to the pandemic – but an elite-only race will be held.

The race, which normally attracts almost 40,000 runners and raises millions of pounds for charity, was originally delayed from April to October.

London’s elite-only race will be held on a 19.8 lap course around St James’s Park on October 4. The event will be headlined by the only two men to have gone under two hours, two minutes for the marathon, Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.

There will be no spectator access but BBC sport plans to broadcast eight hours of coverage during the day.  

A spokesman said on Twitter: “It’s with a heavy heart that we can confirm, for the first time since 1981, the Virgin Money London Marathon will not be taking place in its usual format.”

Everyone with a place in the 2020 event will still have the chance to take part in the 40th Race by running the 26.2-mile marathon distance from home or anywhere in the world on the course of their choice.

All finishers will receive a medal and a New Balance finisher T-shirt. All runners and charities will be able to defer their place to a future London Marathon in 2021, 2022, or 2023.

Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon Hugh Brasher said: “We have been working for months on a number of different scenarios with the health and safety of our runners, our charities, our sponsors, our volunteers, our medics, our communities and our city always our priority.

“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.

“This would have enabled us to accurately monitor every participant’s distance from each other, work out if the participant spent more than 15 minutes within 1.5 metres (or any distance we set) of anyone else and then contact them post-event if anyone had informed us that they had contracted Covid-19 in the two weeks after the event.

“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.”