London Marathon 2024: Record number of runners take part in gruelling 26.2-mile race

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir ran the fastest time in a women’s only race at the London Marathon on a day where a record number of people were set to take part.

Organisers hailed Sunday’s event as the “most inclusive yet” as 50,000 finished the 26.2 miles through the capital.

Olympic champion Jepchirchir finished in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds to lead the women home. It was not the fastest a woman has ever run the distance as Tigst Assefa, beaten on Sunday, ran 2 hours 11 in Berlin last year but that race had male pace makers involved.

The men's race was won by Kenyan Alexander Munyao, ahead of 41-year-old track great Kenenisa Bekele. British runners Emile Cairess and Mahamed Mahamed came third and fourth respectively.

The largest ever field set off from 10am, with Dame Kelly Holmes starting the race - which played out in mild if blustery conditions of 12C.

Runners cross Tower Bridge at the half way mark (AFP via Getty Images)
Runners cross Tower Bridge at the half way mark (AFP via Getty Images)

Several Guinness World Records were broken elsewhere, such as the fastest marathon run while dressed in an inflatable costume.

There was also the record for the fastest time set by someone running as a scientist and the best clocking for someone with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Jono Astle, 31, from Battersea, secured the fastest marathon for someone with MS, raising more than £20,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Mr Astle thanked the "amazing" crowds and said he was buoyed by notifications coming through on his phone while running.

Sid Keyte dressed as a telephone box in action during the marathon (REUTERS)
Sid Keyte dressed as a telephone box in action during the marathon (REUTERS)

"I had lots of notifications coming in throughout the race which I think is fundraising," he said.He added: "My friends and family were all around the course - it was really cool, quite emotional."

Among the famous faces taking part was comedian Joel Dommett who was dressed in a piranha costume.

“It was definitely the hardest marathon I’ve done,” he said. “Really had to dig deep. Lots of shouting to myself.

“It probably weighs, I reckon, probably about 8kg, something like that.

“The hard thing was it (the costume) was just banging against my head the entire time.

“I think I’m about three inches shorter now.”

Russ Cook, who finished running the entire length of Africa on April 7, also took part.

Also among the runners were 20 MPs and peers, the most in the event's history, including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

The politician finished in five hours 40 minutes.

“I am now sitting back on a comfortable sofa in 11 Downing Street with rather sore legs,” he tweeted.

“Not the fastest time in the world at 5. 40 but an incredible afternoon, the crowds kept us going and it really was London and Britain at its best.”

Switzerland's Marcel Hug won the men's wheelchair race for the fourth year in a row, with a time of one hour, 28 minutes and 38 seconds.

Catherine Debrunner, also Swiss, won the women's wheelchair race with a time of one hour, 38 minutes and 52 seconds.

The 29-year-old, who broke the course record to win the race in 2022, came home more than five minutes ahead of her nearest rival.

This year's race is the first time that wheelchair and non-disabled athletes have received the same prize money for a marathon.

All four winners of the elite races will receive £44,000, with the runner-up receiving £24,000 and third place £18,000.

Britain's David Weir, who came in third place, previously said he had not expected the change to happen in his lifetime.

Event director Hugh Brasher said the event will be "more inclusive than before" with support for more than 200 disabled participants as well as a faith space and a quiet space for neurodivergent participants in the finish area.

There are female urinals, sanitary products available for anyone who needs them, and a family support area which includes a private breastfeeding area.

There were 30 seconds of applause before the race in memory of last year's elite men's race winner Kelvin Kiptum, who died in a car accident in February at the age of 24.

The 2023 marathon, the world's biggest annual one-day fundraising event, raised £63 million for thousands of charities.