Thousands take part in London Marathon

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The male elite runners kicked off the marathon

Tens of thousands of people are taking part in the 39th London Marathon.

Sir Andy Murray fired the starting gun at this year’s event as more than 40,000 people descended on the capital for the race.

The marathon has raised £1bn since it started in 1981, according to race sponsors Virgin Money.

Runners are targeting more than 80 Guinness World Records – including Sir Mo Farah, aiming to break his own British record.

Event director Hugh Brasher said: “No other mass participation event comes anywhere near this kind of fundraising.

“We would like to thank every runner, supporter, donator, charity, volunteer, sponsor, spectator, staff member and everyone else who has contributed to this wonderful total.”

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Runners taking part in the women’s elite race line up at the start

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More than 80 Guinness World Records are being targeted, including several in fancy dress

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Sir Mo Farah won last month’s Big Half marathon in London

Men’s world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and home favourite Sir Mo headline a strong field for the elite men’s race.

Kipchoge, the Olympic champion who holds the course record, is looking for a fourth win in the race in five years. He has not been beaten over 26.2 miles since the 2013 Berlin Marathon.

Eight-time winner David Weir will compete in the wheelchair race for the 20th consecutive year.

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Last year’s winner Vivian Cheruiyot and fellow Kenyan, Mary Keitany, are expected to lead a star-studded elite women’s race

A star-studded women’s field features four of the 10 fastest women of all time.

At the head of the pack, last year’s winner Vivian Cheruiyot is set to renew her rivalry with fellow Kenyan and world record holder, Mary Keitany.

An eight-strong team from TV soap EastEnders are running for Dementia Revolution on behalf of Dame Barbara Windsor, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2014.

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Media captionEileen Noble is gearing up for her 20th marathon at the age of 84

Speaking about the £1bn raised for good causes, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is an astonishing achievement and my congratulations go to everyone involved in making the London Marathon such a world-renowned fundraising success – helping millions of people over the last 38 years.”

The race is being broadcast live on BBC One.

Marathon facts

  • Some 444,168 people applied in the ballot for a place, 7.3% more than last year, and 56,398 were successful
  • 44% of the applicants were women and more than half of all runners have never taken part in a marathon race before
  • The event’s Charity of the Year 2019 is Dementia Revolution, a partnership between Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research. Its fundraising target is £3.5 million
  • A group of men called Ever Presents are taking part, having run every London marathon since 1981

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