Over 100 of the world’s top athletes will complete their preparations for an historic staging of the London Marathon in a “biosecure bubble” at a secret location close to the capital.
All the rooms at a hotel set in 40 acres of grounds have been booked for the participants to stay in during the run-up to the October 4 race.
Details of the unprecedented preparations to allow the 40th Virgin Money London Marathon to go ahead were revealed by race director Hugh Brasher.
The mass participation run through the streets of the capital was postponed from April, then abandoned entirely because of the pandemic.
Instead, around 100 of the world’s fastest athletes, and 16 pacers, will complete 19.6 clockwise laps of St James’s Park ending on The Mall as tradition.
The Operation director said: “We’re the only marathon in the world that has been able to pull this off and we’re incredibly proud of that.” Under protocols agreed with the Government, athletes must all be tested in their own country four days prior arriving at the hotel, up to a week before the race.
They will be allocated a bedroom each and must maintain social distancing while training in the grounds. They must wear masks except while training, eating or in their rooms. Testing will continue at the hotel until the Friday before the race. All staff at the hotel will also be tested for the virus.
On the Sunday, the competitors will be taken in coaches to the athletes’ village in another secure bubble in St James’s Park. All construction and race staff at the village will be temperature-tested and wear full PPE.
Public access to the park will be restricted from Thursday to Sunday. It will not be closed completely but no spectators will be allowed to watch the race as the course will be screened off.
The male and female defending champions and world record holders, Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, will both return, as will the two top marathon wheelchair athletes in the world: Daniel Romanchuk of America and Switzerland’s Manuela Schar. The pacers will include Sir Mo Farah.
Mr Brasher said: “We are confident we have created the safest environment possible for everyone. We’re delighted to be able to put on an event that we think will live long in people’s memories. It will show the world what London and Britain does best.”