A royal send-off for marathon runners

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will be giving runners in the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon a royal send-off this Sunday as the official race starters.

The three Royals will push a giant red button at 10am to send 35 elite men and more than 39,000 mass race runners on their 26.2-mile journey from Shooters Hill in south east London to Westminster.

Earlier, double Olympic rowing gold medallists Helen Glover and Heather Stanning will start the seven World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup races for wheelchair and ambulant athletes, and the elite women’s race featuring many of the best marathon runners in the world. Glover and Stanning are then joining the masses on the run from Blackheath to The Mall, aiming to raise as much money as possible for the Royal British Legion and the Brain and Spine Foundation – and to beat each other to the finish line, of course.

The Royals, on the other hand, are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma and change the conversation on mental health for everyone. They have pledged to make this year’s race ‘the mental health marathon’ and are encouraging runners, whatever cause they’re running for, to wear the blue Heads Together headband that will be given to them as they collect their race number.

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“Running a marathon is all about being fit and healthy,” said London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher. “It’s easy to see if someone is physically healthy, but it can be impossible to see if they are mentally unhealthy.

“We believe running can be a real force for good in the world and a great help for people who suffer from mental health problems.

“So we are delighted that Prince Harry and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be with us on Sunday where they will help to start the race, and we’re handing out 40,000 headbands to be worn in support of their campaign.”

For more on the marathon, including road closures and the best places to watch the race, head to the Virgin Money London Marathon website.

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