London Marathon 2021: Tens of thousands take part as event returns after COVID cancellations and delays

·3-min read

Tens of thousands of people have taken part in the first London Marathon in more than two years, as runners were treated to sunshine and settled conditions after a wet and windy Saturday.

More than 40,000 people donned their trainers to tackle the traditional 26.2-mile route from Greenwich to The Mall, following the cancellation of the 2020 race and delay to the 2021's due to COVID restrictions.

Sisay Lemma of Ethiopa, who came third last year, won the men's elite race in exactly 2:04.01, while the women's was won by Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei in 2:17.42 - making her the seventh-fastest woman in history.

Away from the elite contests, a host of retired top sports stars were among the recognisable faces who joined the thousands of members of the public for the race.

They included former London Marathon winner and Olympian Liz McColgan, ex-footballer Danny Mills, former health secretary Matt Hancock, Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, celebrity vet Noel Fitzpatrick, actress Tanya Franks, Olympic gold-winning cyclist Dani Rowe, and two-time Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell.

Sky News' Enda Brady also completed the race after recovering from COVID-19, which had left him bed-bound and struggling to breathe.

Olympic BMX silver medallist Kye Whyte got the mass race started and marathon organisers Virgin Money London said: "So many smiles, so good to have you back!"

Last year's marathon was replaced by a virtual run where participants chose their own route, and a further 40,000 participants will earn their medal by taking part in the virtual event this year.

For those who were in London, they enjoyed far nicer conditions than those inflicted upon the capital and other parts of the country yesterday.

Temperatures in London stood at around 11C (52F) between 8-9am as the race began, and reached highs of 17C (63F) - the average for October - during the day.

Ahead of the race, a Met Office spokesperson said: "It looks a lovely sunny morning... plenty of sunshine around but a bit of a south-westerly breeze and the cloud will tend to increase as the race goes on.

"Certainly for later finishes into the afternoon, there will be more cloud around the wind will have picked up a little bit, and there will be an increasing chance of a shower developing as well."

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Other areas of the UK were also due for average temperatures on Sunday - for example Manchester, home of the Conservative Party conference - peaking at around 14C (57F).

It was due to be brighter for most, although some heavy showers were forecast for western parts of the country.

Meanwhile, a yellow wind weather warning is in place for the Shetland Islands for Sunday, with gusts of up to 70mph (113kph) expected to cause disruption to travel, especially in coastal regions.

According to the Met Office, further coastal gales are possible in the south and the west on Monday and heading into Tuesday, as another weather system moves in from the Atlantic.

More heavy rain and strong winds are expected in parts of Wales and southern England in the early part of next week.

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