London Marathon Events has announced three new entry policies to improve inclusivity, including new options for pregnancy deferral
We know that there are loads of great marathons out there, but London Marathon is still The Big One for us. So we were thrilled to hear that the organisation behind the race, London Marathon Events, have announced new entry policies.
These hope to make the race more inclusive for pregnancy, disability and religious considerations. Even more exciting: these changes all come into immediate effect. This means that they now apply for this year’s race in October.
London Marathon new policies for pregnant and postpartum participants
First up: pregnancy. There’s always been an option to defer a race place due to pregnancy for the London Marathon. However, doing so would forfeit any Good For Age or Championship placements. The participant would need to run in the general race instead. Furthermore, general race participants could only defer their place for a year. Now, both pregnant and postpartum women will have the option to defer their place but keep their same category in a future race. They can also now defer for up to three years.
We applaud this. We think that women shouldn’t be made to choose between pregnancy and their potential running achievements, or lose an opportunity because they’re having a baby. That new three-year window is also a hit with us. Running during pregnancy can be tricky, and it can take a while to get back into running postpartum. Having time to train makes it so much more accessible for women to return to their running fitness safely and without a short, and stressful, deadline.
London Marathon new policies for disabled participants
This year also marks the first London Marathon where wheelchair participants who need assistance will be allowed to enter. The race has come under fire in the past for being one of the less inclusive events in this respect. Previously, they asked that all participants be able to power themselves around the course. Now, up to four assisted wheelchair participants can enter the event, each with up to four support team members.
That’s not all: the Virtual London Marathon also has some new rules to enable more participation for disabled racers. Anyone with a disability that would prevent them from completing the event within the time frame (currently 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds) will be given special dispensation to complete the distance in a time frame that is achievable to them.
London Marathon new policies for religious considerations
Finally, another update to the Virtual London Marathon. Previously, participants had to complete the 26.2 mile distance on the same day as the real-life race in London (this year, that’s the 2nd October). From 2022 onwards, any runners who can’t participate on this day due to religious reasons will be allowed to take part on the next suitable day.
We support these improvements in inclusivity for the race. And we were also pleased to hear that these are just the first in a series of forthcoming changes. “We want to make the TCS London Marathon the most diverse, equitable and inclusive marathon in the world,” said Hugh Brasher, event director. “While we recognise there’s still more work to be done, we believe that these initial changes are an important step forward.” We can’t wait to hear what’s next.
And if you can’t get enough of London Marathon chat, check out the Women’s Running. Editor Esther is running in the real-life race this year, and we’re following along with her marathon training journey.