For the first time in 20 years, the London Marathon won't feature any RW Pacers

·7-min read
Photo credit: David Altabev
Photo credit: David Altabev

Alongside many important changes to make the Virgin Money London Marathon 2021 as safe as possible for all involved, it was announced that there will be no RW Pacers at this year's event.

The long standing relationship between Runner's World and VMLM to provide pacers at the event began in 2000 and our team of trusty flag carriers have helped guide numerous runners to the finish line and that much sort after PB.

If you were relying on following a flag at the event this year, do not worry, you've already got through marathon training during a pandemic, so this will be easy.

A simple measure to help stay on track is noting down your mile splits for a certain time you are aiming to run and then arm yourself with a basic stopwatch with built in lap function/memory.

Each time you pass a mile marker on course, you click that lap button and you'll see how you're getting on. This negates relying on GPS, which can sometimes fail at points on the course. It's not a fail safe method, but it's good to have a back up.

The full statement noting the changes to the race can be read here -

On Sunday 3 October, it will be 889 days since we last ran the 26.2 miles of the Virgin Money London Marathon from Greenwich to Westminster.

For the last 40 years, these miles have been steeped in tales of human endeavour, in tales of perseverance, joy and tears, and, above all, in tales of the extraordinary and indomitable spirit of humankind coming together to celebrate life and raise more than a billion pounds for charity.

Today we launched our campaign – We Run Together – to celebrate everyone taking on the 26.2-mile challenge on 3 October, whether that’s on the streets of London, or elsewhere in the UK or around the world in the virtual event.

Sunday 3 October is going to be a day to remember. It will be a marathon that you will never forget, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Start Line as we run together again.

To ensure the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon can go ahead, and will take place safely for you and your fellow participants, we have made some changes to this year’s event.
Some of the changes are minor and you will not notice them.

Others are more fundamental and we are asking for your support and understanding to ensure their success. With your help the 41st London Marathon will be a landmark day in our history that shows the very best of our human spirit, our unity and our hope.

Over the coming weeks, we will be emailing you full details of our plans for Sunday 3 October and explaining what you need to do in the build-up to Marathon Day. We have spent many months working on ways to give you more space to run, to reduce touch points before, during and after the marathon, and to ensure we deliver a safe and secure event.

Many of these new procedures have been tested in events since May, when we organised one of the first mass participation running events under the government’s Events Research Programme, and in events since: at Hatfield Park, the Standard Chartered Great City Race, and The Vitality Big Half.

Below are our ‘Six Steps to the Start Line’ for you to follow. More information is on our website and we’ll be emailing all the details of each step to you in the coming weeks. For now, please check out this summary of the six steps we’ll be asking you to complete ahead of Marathon Day.

Step One: Update your details and tell us your predicted time
We’ll email you by this Friday, 27 August, to ask for your predicted finish time and to check your contact details are correct. Please be as realistic as you can with your finish time, as this will ensure your running experience is the best possible. Your correct contact details are vital so that we can send your official kitbag to you in advance.

Step Two: Pack your kitbag in advance
To reduce touch points, this year there will be no baggage lorries travelling from the Start to the Finish. Instead, we’ll post your official kitbag to you – this should arrive by Friday 24 September. We’re asking you to pack any items you’d like at the Finish in the kitbag (including non-perishable food items) before dropping it off at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show at ExCeL London.

We’ll then add your souvenir finisher’s medal, New Balance finisher’s T-shirt, BUXTON Natural Mineral Water and Lucozade Sport to your kitbag before taking it to the Finish for you to collect after you’ve completed your 26.2 miles on Marathon Day.

This new kitbag system will allow us to hugely reduce crowding and touch points at the most critical areas of the event – the Start and the Finish – and most importantly will enable the event to go ahead whatever might happen in the coming weeks.

Step Three: Before you go to the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show
Take a lateral flow test on the Wednesday or Thursday if you are dropping off your kitbag and picking up your bib number on one of those days, or the Friday or Saturday if you are dropping off your kitbag and picking up your bib number on either of those days. You will need to show your negative Covid-19 test result to enter the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show and drop off your kitbag.

Step Four: At the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show
Drop off your kitbag and collect your bib number at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show.

As in previous years, if you cannot attend in person you may nominate someone to drop off your kitbag and collect your bib number for you. There is more information about how to do this on our website.

Step Five: Plan your journey to the Start
We’ll be sending you detailed arrival information a couple of weeks before Marathon Day and asking you to arrive within a set time window. This year’s start process will be different, with everyone set off in separate waves. Remember, there are no baggage lorries this year, so please wear clothes that you’re happy to discard and donate to charity.

Step Six: Prepare for Marathon Day
If you take your lateral flow test on the Wednesday or Thursday of Event Week, please take another lateral flow test on either Friday 1 or Saturday 2 October and be prepared to show the negative result at the Start – we will be doing random checks.

Please wear a bottle belt to help us further reduce touch points on the day. Our testing in 2019 showed that runners wearing bottle belts used 45 per cent fewer bottles and enjoyed being able to drink when they wanted. Not only will you be reducing waste, you will also be enhancing your experience of the event.

Please note there will be no official pacers at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon to reduce crowding on the course, so you’ll need to follow your own pacing strategy and plan this ahead of the event.

Finally, please remember that your kitbag will be waiting for you at the Finish and we’ll have added your souvenir finisher’s medal, New Balance finisher’s T-shirt, BUXTON Natural Mineral Water and Lucozade Sport.

We understand that you may have questions, but please wait before you get in touch with us as more information will follow in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you for helping us to ensure the 41st London Marathon is a great day for everyone taking part.

We truly believe that the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon will be one of the most emotional, memorable and uplifting experiences of your life.

We are so looking forward to welcoming you to the event and ensuring you have a Marathon Day you’ll never forget as #WeRunTogether on Sunday 3 October.

Best wishes and good luck with your final weeks of training and fundraising.

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