The Virgin Money London Marathon, the most popular marathon on the planet, set a new world record for a third successive year as an incredible 457,861 applicants registered for a ballot place in the 2020 event, which will be the 40th edition of the race.

The new world record total represents an increase of 10.5 per cent on last year’s previous world record of 414,168 applicants for the 2019 race.

373,736 of the applicants for 2020 were from the UK. This is 25,860 up from the previous UK applicant record of 347,876 for the 2019 event. A total of 84,125 people applied in the international ballot.

More than 56 per cent of the UK applications for 2020 were from people who have never run a marathon and just under 48 per cent of the total UK applicants were women.

“This world record reflects the extraordinary inspirational effect of the 39th London Marathon on 28 April and our social media campaign, #ThanksaBillion, which celebrated the many runners who have raised over £1 billion for charitable causes since the event started in 1981,” said Hugh Brasher, Event Director for London Marathon Events. “One of our goals is to inspire people to take up sport and it’s fantastic that more than 210,000 people from the UK have been inspired to apply to run a marathon for the first time in 2020.”

Eliud Kipchoge KEN, at the Iffley road running track on the 30th April 2019.
Photo: Thomas Lovelock for london marathon events

“At the first London Marathon back in 1981, fewer than 300 of the 6,300 finishers were women. More than 179,000 women from the UK have applied to run in 2020 and, for the third successive year, there are more female than male first-time marathon runners from the UK (54.4 per cent v 45.6 per cent).

“Our #ThanksaBillion campaign celebrated the extraordinary achievement of so many runners and supporters of the London Marathon in raising over £1 billion for charity and, through its massive reach on social media, will have inspired many to apply. The commitment of more than 75 per cent of our runners to fundraise each year is a part of what makes the London Marathon unique. No other mass participation event comes anywhere near this kind of fundraising.

“We were particularly proud to welcome ‘Barbara’s Revolutionaries’, a team of runners from EastEnders running in honour of their former cast member Dame Barbara Windsor, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. Together with Barbara’s husband Scott Mitchell, the eight EastEnders raised more than £100,000 for the charity of the year, Dementia Revolution. We were also honoured to feature a commemorative mile marker at Mile 18 in memory of Stephen Lawrence, celebrating his life and legacy with the concept ‘Because of Stephen we can’.

“The London Marathon continues to have an extraordinary impact that has inspired profound social change. It is an iconic event, recognised as the world’s greatest marathon, and compels people to take up running and to raise millions for charity. In addition, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has enabled thousands more to get active through its funding of a huge range of recreational projects.”

Entrants will be notified of the ballot results in October 2019.