London Marathon plans for world record 100,000 runners this year

Mass participation in the 2020 London Marathon was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with a virtual race occurring instead. BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

This year's London Marathon is set to break new ground with a world record 100,000 runners expected to compete both on the streets of the city and in a remote race "wherever they are on the planet," organisers said on Thursday.

The virtual London Marathon was held for the first time last year after the actual race was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 38,000 runners took part to set a Guinness World Record for the most in a remote marathon in 24 hours.

With a national vaccination drive underway, organisers also hope to have 50,000 runners for the traditional race on Oct. 3.

While the New York marathon would still hold the world record for the number of participants on the starting line -- 53,121 runners set at the 2018 race -- London would claim the highest general participation.

The virtual marathon allows participants to run on a 26.2 mile course of their choice but they must complete it on Oct. 3.

"The world record-breaking success of the virtual event in 2020 and the incredible stories from participants across the globe showed how the... marathon brought light and hope in the darkness of the pandemic," event director Hugh Brasher said.

"We want to offer that again and we have also accelerated the plans we have been working on for some years to increase the number of finishers on the streets of London to 50,000."