London Marathon changes policy for pregnant and postpartum participants

·3-min read
Photo credit: Pool / Getty
Photo credit: Pool / Getty

Following an extensive review, London Marathon Events has made three immediate policy changes to make the event more inclusive.

Participants who are pregnant or postpartum – including general entry participants and participants with a Good For Age or Championship place in the 2022 TCS London Marathon on Sunday 2 October – will now have the opportunity to defer their category place to a future London Marathon within a three-year window.

Moreover, wheelchair participants who need to be assisted/pushed by others will now be allowed to enter the TCS London Marathon for the first time in 2022, while changes to the virtual TCS London Marathon have also been made to make the event more inclusive.

Pregnant and postpartum participants

Until this year’s event, London Marathon Events’ standard policy was that Championship or Good For Age places could only be deferred to a general entry. However, the new policy will allow pregnant participants to keep their category place when deferring, meaning runners will not need to re-qualify.

All participants will have a three-year window to defer their place, including those with general entries – previously participants with general entries had the option to defer for any reason, but only to the next year’s edition of the event.

Now, if a participant is pregnant or postpartum again for the deferral year, they will be offered a second deferral – again to the year of their choice.

Furthermore, if a participant defers an original place for a different reason (such as injury or illness) and then is pregnant/postpartum in the following year, they will be offered a second deferral to the year of their choice within a three-year period.

No participant can defer three times for any reason. The new policy change does not apply to participants with charity entries, as these places are owned by the charity.

Ultrarunner Sophie Power, who gained attention in 2018 when a photo of her breastfeeding her baby midway through UTMB went viral, campaigned for this policy change last year. It inspired her to launch a campaign called SheRaces, which aims to makes races fairer and more inclusive, with a focus on changing unfair pregnancy deferral polices, which can see women losing costly and hard-won race places.

'I'm absolutely delighted that the London Marathon has now put in place a full and fair pregnancy deferral policy,' Power told RW.

'I campaigned for this policy last year, and although only a partial policy was implemented back then, the impact of that change alone inspired me to launch SheRACES (www.sheraces.com).

'Through our research, we have created a simple set of guidelines for race directors to make races more inclusive of female athletes and we champion those who do. We now hope race directors across the world will take their lead from London and level the start line for women.'

Entries for assisted participants

The second policy change also ensures a more accessible event for all. Prior to 2022, wheelchair participants in the London Marathon had to complete the 26.2 miles by themselves, unaided by anyone else.

From this year’s TCS London Marathon, a limited number of four assisted wheelchair participants will be allowed to take part with a maximum number of four support personnel. Of the four support team members, only two will be permitted to push the assisted wheelchair at any one time.

Virtual TCS London Marathon special considerations

Special dispensations have also been made for participants of the Virtual TCS London Marathon.

Participants who cannot take part on the day due to religious reasons will now be allowed to take part in the event on the next suitable day.

Participants with a disability that prevents them from completing the virtual event within the time limit – 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds – will also be allowed to complete the 26.2 miles in a time frame that is achievable for them.

The changes for the 2022 TCS London Marathon are the first in a series of new measures that will be introduced in future marathons.

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