London Marathon plea for peace amid threat of Palestine and Israel protests

A view on Westminster Bridge of the London Landmarks Half Marathon, hosted by baby charity Tommy's. Picture date: Sunday April 7, 2024. In a showcase of inclusivity and diversity, runners participated for a variety of causes with £50 million being raised for charity since the London Landmarks Half Marathon began
Thousands will descend on London for the marathon on Sunday - PA Wire/Matt Crossick

The London Marathon have urged unity on the streets of London on Sunday when more than 50,000 people will run the London Marathon for charities that include both Palestinians and Israelis impacted by the conflict in the Middle East.

Event director Hugh Brasher said that mitigations were in place for potential disruptions that could also include environmental protesters but, after Extinction Rebellion made a point last year of not targeting the 26.2 mile spectacle, there is hope that the event will again not be impacted.

“We are a force for good in society,” said Brasher, whose father Chris co-founded the event in 1981. “There are people running for Palestinians that have been affected. There are people that are running for Israelis that have been affected. There are so many people running for so many different causes. What we’ve always tried to do is bring people together.”

This year is expected to surpass both the 48,000 record for most finishers and last year’s £66.4 million charity fundraising record. “Coexistence and togetherness is what the London Marathon is all about,” said Brasher. “And we hope that that message will resonate with anyone who thinks it is a good thing to disrupt the race. I can’t really talk about the mitigations but there are numerous ones that we have.”

That includes added security for the many celebrities that range from the 71-year-old Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, to self-styled ‘Hardest Geezer’ Russ Cook who, fresh from running the length of Africa, will be on the startline alongside various comedians, actors and television presenters.

“We have a number of people running the event that we help with security on but we never detail what that is,” said Brasher.

David Weir, a six times Paralympic gold medallist and eight times winner of the men’s wheelchair race, will also be competing in his 25th London Marathon. There will be a period of applause and a video tribute at the start of the race in memory of Kelvin Kiptum, the Kenyan world record holder who won last year’s London Marathon in a course record time. Kiptum died in a car accident in Kenya in February.

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