Kipchoge's legacy among highlights as London Marathon earns World Athletics heritage plaque


ATHLETICS Kipchoge's legacy among highlights as London Marathon earns World Athletics heritage plaque

Festus Chuma 21:04 - 30.03.2024

London Marathon honored with World Athletics Heritage Plaque for its significant impact on athletics, charity, and community spirit since 1981.

London Marathon's illustrious history has been immortalized with the awarding of the World Athletics Heritage Plaque in the category of competition. 

This prestigious accolade was announced on the 29th of March, commemorating the anniversary of the marathon's inaugural race back in 1981. 

The award signifies the marathon's exceptional contribution to the global history and development of athletics, underscoring its significance not just as a competitive event but as a beacon of community spirit, public health, and philanthropy.

Founded by Chris Brasher and John Disley, two former Olympians inspired by the camaraderie and the challenge of the New York Marathon, the London Marathon was birthed from a desire to bring joy, achievement, and a sense of community to a world beset by troubles. 

Brasher, known for pacing Sir Roger Bannister to the first sub-four-minute mile and his Olympic gold in the 3000m steeplechase in 1956, along with Disley, a 1952 Olympic steeplechase bronze medalist, envisioned an event that mirrored the spirit and unity they experienced in New York in 1979.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe lauded the London Marathon for capturing the British public's imagination, akin to how the New York City Marathon galvanized American runners. 

“The London Marathon is rightly as famous worldwide as a charity fundraiser as it is for its super-fast finishing times and head-to-head battles at the front. Countless club and recreational runners raise millions for charity each year, which along with the event’s renowned organisational reputation annually attracts 45,000 runners to its start line," Coe said as per World Athletics.

The event's dual reputation for fast times and intense elite competition, alongside its unmatched capacity to fundraise for charity, was particularly emphasized by Coe, who concluded, “Congratulations to the London Marathon which thoroughly deserves this recognition of its rich heritage and its legacy of better public health and fitness.”

Nick Bitel, Chief Executive of London Marathon Events, expressed honor at receiving the accolade from World Athletics, praising it as a tribute to the marathon and the collective effort of countless individuals over the years. 

Bitel reminisced about the evolution of the event from its first race with fewer than 7,000 finishers to anticipating 50,000 participants crossing the finish line on The Mall. 

“We look forward to welcoming the world to the 44th London Marathon on 21 April," he noted.

The London Marathon has been a stage for historic performances, with the world record being broken six times, including memorable moments by Paula Radcliffe and the legendary Grete Waitz's world record in 1983, which firmly positioned the marathon on the global athletics map.

The dominance of athletes like Norway’s Ingrid Kristiansen and Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge, each securing four titles, further exemplifies the marathon's status as a crucible for athletic excellence.

Moreover, the marathon's inclusion as a World Athletics Platinum Label road race and its role in the Abbott World Marathon Majors highlight its significance in the international running calendar. 

Beyond the elite competition, the marathon's mass participation aspect is equally impressive, with a record number of participants and over £1.2 billion raised for charity since its inception. 

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