The London Marathon will remain a spring event in the long term, its event director has pledged.
Organisers announced last month that the 2022 marathon had been moved to October in order to provide runners and charities certainty about when the event would happen. It is due to return to its usual April slot from 2023.
But some charities and fundraisers expressed doubts over the shift, citing concerns including a downturn in fundraising during the summer in the lead-up to the race and issues with some people not being able to train over the hottest part of the year.
Speaking yesterday, event director Hugh Brasher said: “We absolutely are a spring marathon.”
He said next year’s race had been put back in order to provide additional certainty over when it would be held because nobody knows what might happen with the coronavirus situation over the winter months.
“But we look forward to being back in spring in April 2023 in what we would say is our rightful place as a spring marathon and welcoming and inspiring people in a new year to get fit and to get healthy,” he said.
About 40,000 people will take part in his year’s event, which takes place on Sunday, running the famous route in London, while the same number again will be running their own virtual 26.2-mile race.
The most recent full marathon, which took place in April 2019, raised a record-breaking £66.4m for good causes.
Asked how charity fundraising was going this year, Brasher said it was too early to say.
“One of the difficulties you have this year is that the time of the year makes things very different,” he said.
“When people are away over the summer holidays they tend not to do so much fundraising, so actually it suddenly accelerated when they came back in September.”
He said that with the virtual event, a lot of the fundraising tended to happen a lot later than with people who are doing the London route.
Another unknown factor is people who were fundraising to run in the April 2020 event, which did not happen, and who put their efforts on hold before reactivating them for this year’s delayed event.
“So it’s honestly too early to say, I think post-event we will be able to understand, but we know it’s been accelerating nicely since people came back since the summer holidays,” said Brasher.
Brasher, whose father Chris co-founded the London Marathon in 1981, said changes to the controversial golden bond system of charity places, announced in January, had been received “unbelievably well” by charities.
“Charities that had a lot of golden bond places thought they would lose more than they were losing, and I think others were surprised that we were able to open up and award more places to new charities,” he said. “So it went incredibly well.”