British ESA astronaut and digital marathon runner Tim Peake will be the official race starter of the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 24 April. Peake, who’s currently orbiting the Earth on board the International Space Station (ISS), has recorded a good luck message to start the race which will be relayed via giant screens to runners gathered at the event’s Blue, Red and Green Start Lines.

The message finishes with a 10-second countdown to 10:00 when 40 elite men and more than 37,000 mass race runners will set off on their 26.2-mile journey from Shooters Hill in south east London to Westminster.

Earlier, Sylvia Disley, widow of the event’s co-founder John Disley CBE and a 1952 Olympic relay medallist, will provide the more down-to-Earth send-off for the IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup wheelchair and ambulant races, and for the elite women. Peake, who’s part of a European Space Agency programme, will then embark on his own marathon mission when he straps himself onto the ISS treadmill to run the first ever Digital Virgin Money London Marathon in space.

Peake completed the 1999 London Marathon at ground level in 3:18:50, but this year is aiming to become the first man to run a marathon in space. He will start at 10:00 on 24 April, just like his fellow runners on Earth. He will follow a virtual ‘mixed reality’ video of the London Marathon course alongside avatars of other digital runners around the world who have also downloaded the London Marathon course in the RunSocial app.

Peake is aiming to cross the virtual Finish Line after 4:00 to 4:30 hours of running, just as thousands of club runners and charity fund-raisers make their own way towards The Mall in the heart of central London. Among the talented athletes who will be racing to the real Finish from Blackheath this year are the current London Marathon elite race champions, Eliud Kipchoge and Tigist Tufa, men’s world record holder Dennis Kimetto and London course record holder Wilson Kipsang, the men’s and women’s world champions, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Mare


Dibaba, and the second fastest woman ever over the course, Mary Keitany. There will also be more than 70 para-athletes competing in the third IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup, including the reigning wheelchair world champions, Joshua George and Tatyana McFadden, and Britain’s own six-times Paralympic champion, David Weir, who is going for a record seventh London Marathon victory.

The elites will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy dress costume wearers, including Peake’s colleagues and fellow-Space Agency personnel, Dr Jonathan Scott from ESA and Libby Jackson from the UK Space Agency, who are running in replica space suits.

Here is a full list of the official starters: Sylvia Disley, British Olympian & widow of London Marathon co-founder John Disley 08:55 IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup Wheelchair Races, Blue Start 09:00 Other IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup Races, Blue Start 09:15 Elite Women’s Race, Blue Start Tim Peake, European Space Agency astronaut 10:00 Elite Men’s Race & Mass Race, Blue Start Councillor Obajimi Adefiranye, London Borough of Lewisham 10:00 Mass Race, Green Start Councillor Norman Adams, Mayor of the Royal London Borough of Greenwich 10:00 Mass Race, Red Start ENDS Free images The 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon image library will be updated daily. Images may be downloaded for editorial use free of charge. Please credit: Virgin Money London Marathon.

The following link will take you to a selection of images from the pre-race activities for the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon.

If prompted, enter the password: VMLM2016 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon image library: http://londonmarathon.photoshelter.com/archive Notes to Editors • The 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon takes place on Sunday 24 April. For more information, please visit www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com • The London Marathon was first held on 29 March 1981. • In 2015, the Virgin Money London Marathon raised £54.1 million for charity, setting a new Guinness World Record for the largest annual single-day charity fundraising event worldwide for a ninth successive year. • Since 1981, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has awarded grants totalling more than £57.7 million to 1000+ organisations in London, Surrey, Silverstone, Birmingham and Liverpool For further information, please contact: