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London Marathon rule change opens race to wheelchair users with helpers

Wheelchair users who need help from others will be able to enter the London Marathon for the first time, as organisers aim to make the event more inclusive (John Walton/PA)
Wheelchair users who need help from others will be able to enter the London Marathon for the first time, as organisers aim to make the event more inclusive (John Walton/PA)

Wheelchair users who need help from others will be able to enter the London Marathon for the first time, as organisers aim to make the event more inclusive.

The London Marathon announced three major policy changes on Thursday, to become more inclusive of pregnant or postpartum, disabled and religious participants, which will come into immediate effect.

Up to four wheelchair users who require assistance to participate in the event – along with up to four support personnel – will be allowed to enter the event for the first time in its 41-year history.

Only two people will be allowed to push the wheelchair at any one time during the race.

Wheelchair user Aaron Kerr, 25, from Co Down, Northern Ireland, along with his father, David, and mother, Sandra, have completed 48 marathons together.

They will now be able to participate in the London Marathon for the first time due to the change in rules, which they helped to review.

Before the new policy change, wheelchair users needed to complete the London Marathon by themselves, without assistance from anyone else.

David Kerr said: “We completed our first marathon together in 2015 and have wanted to do the London Marathon ever since because of its iconic status. It has taken a few years, but we are delighted that we’ll finally be able to take part this year on Sunday 2 October.

“Inclusion is at the very heart of what we do, so it fills us with an enormous amount of pride that Aaron and others with complex needs are now able to take part in London Marathons alongside everyone else.”

Under the new rules, pregnant or postpartum entrants will now be able to defer their marathon place for up to three years, with the chance to defer a second time within the window if they become pregnant again.

The deferred place will be in the same category as the original – for example, if a participant has entered for a Championship place, they will not need to re-qualify.

Those participating in the virtual London Marathon, which previously required participants to run the full 26.2 miles in 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds on the same day as the actual race, will be able to postpone the run on religious grounds and complete it on the next suitable day.

Disabled participants in the virtual race will now be able to complete the distance in a timeframe which is achievable for them.

Event director of the TCS London Marathon Hugh Brasher said: “We want to make the TCS London Marathon the most diverse, equitable and inclusive marathon in the world.

“With this objective in mind, we have been reviewing our entry terms and conditions and, while we recognise there’s still more work to be done, we believe these changes are an important step forward.”

London Marathon Events said the new rules announced on Thursday are the first in a series of measures which will be introduced in future races.