London Marathon pays tribute to Kelvin Kiptum amid anti-war protests.

London Marathon director Hugh Brasher has announced a 30-second applause before Sunday's race in memory of last year's winner Kelvin Kiptum. He also urged those protesting against the war in the Middle East not to disrupt the event.

Kenya's 24-year-old marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum died on 11 February along with his coach Gervais Hakizimana from severe injuries following a car accident in his country. "We are very sad to lose our defending men's champion Kelvin Kiptum who tragically passed away earlier this year. We will mourn without understanding the man he was or would have been," said Brasher.

London Marathon announcer Geoff Wightman will speak about Kiptum and there will be 30 seconds of applause followed by a video which will be broadcast by the BBC. "We want to celebrate the man. We're doing it in conjunction with the BBC. There'll be some words that Geoff will say just to remind people and to celebrate his short but influential life," added Brasher.

Kelvin Kiptum after winning the 2023 London Marathon. GETTY IMAGES.
Kelvin Kiptum after winning the 2023 London Marathon. GETTY IMAGES.

Security will be tight as war continues to rage in Ukraine and the Middle East. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators have been a regular sight on London's streets in recent months, but Brasher urged protesters to stay away: "Coexistence is what the London Marathon is all about and we hope that message gets through to anyone who thinks it's a good thing to disrupt the race, because it's not."

"We always take precautions in case people try to disrupt the London Marathon. But we are a force for good in the community. Charity runners will raise more than £66.4 million (€77.6 million) on Sunday," he pointed out.

"There are people running for Palestinians who have been affected. There are people running for Israelis who have been affected. There are so many people running for so many different causes. What we've always tried to do is bring people together.

Jasmin Paris, who last month became the first woman to complete the Barkley ultra-endurance marathons, will start the women's elite race, while double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes will start the men's elite race and the mass start.

Ethiopia's world record holder Tigst Assefa will be up against Kenyan stars Brigid Kosgei, Peres Jepchirchir and Ruth Chepngetich. Brasher believes the women's-only world record, set by Mary Keitany in the 2017 race, could fall. "We have seven women who have run under two hours 17 minutes 30 seconds and no race in the history of our sport has had that," he pointed out.

Just two weeks after running the length of Africa, 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook will be one of the many celebrities taking part in the race, which is expected to attract more than 50,000 people on Sunday morning.