Virgin Money London Marathon 2021

Join the RNLI Running Crew and take on the 2021 London Marathon!

Set yourself the ultimate challenge by running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2021 – and save lives with every mile. 

The marathon is a truly amazing experience. Can you imagine the adrenaline rush as you race past some of London’s most spectacular sights? Can you picture thousands of proud spectators cheering you on? And imagine how incredible it feels to cross that finish line. 

You run 26 miles, we’ll rescue 26 people

Why run with the RNLI? We appreciate what an amazing thing you're doing. And when you run with us, we'll help you reach that finish line. With every mile you run, you'll be helping us save a life.

Our crews rescue an average of 26 people a day*. So, on the special day you run 26 miles, we could be rescuing a person for every mile you run – people whose lives may depend on us. Now, that's something worth running for!

There are two ways to run with us, depending on whether you have your own ballot place:

I would like a London Marathon 2021 charity place

No ballot place? No problem! Apply for a charity place by 31 December 2021 for a chance to join the RNLI Running Crew. The minimum fundraising target is £2,300. 

I have a ballot place

The London Marathon 2021 main ballot will open on Sunday 4 October and close at 17:00 on Friday 9 October 2020. Only the race organisers can give ballot places. 

If you are lucky enough to get a place in the London Marathon ballot, we'd love you to join the RNLI Running Crew. All you have to do is register your ballot place with us. There is no minimum fundraising target - just raise as much as you can. 

Joined the RNLI Running Crew?

We're so happy to have you! Now it's time to set up your fundraising page:
*The number of people rescued or helped each day by RNLI lifeboat crews is an average figure based on 2019 rescue statistics.
RNLI Volunteers and Crew at Tower Cheer Station

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates

RNLI volunteers and crew at Tower Cheer Station

The London Marathon’s had an extraordinary impact since beginning in 1981, inspiring profound social change, compelling people to take up running and raising over £1B for good causes. It’s one of the top five World Marathon Majors and incredibly popular, with a record 457,861 people applying for a 2020 place! 

You’re in for a fantastic experience. The atmosphere at the London Marathon is truly inspiring, with runners of all abilities and from all walks of life coming together. It’s broadcast live on the BBC, and the on-course refreshments, live music and sea of 650,000 cheering supporters will all help you get to that finish line.

Ready to run? Want to help save lives? Join our RNLI Running Crew!

If you have a ballot place, register with us today. If you don’t have a ballot place, apply for a charity place with us.

RNLI Runner, Westy, passing the Tower Cheer Station

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates

RNLI runner, Westy, passing the Tower Cheer Station

Drowning is a much bigger problem than people realise. 

Worldwide, drowning claims an estimated 320,000 lives every year. It’s a leading killer in low- and middle-income countries, even though the causes are often easily preventable. 

Here in the UK and Ireland, we work hard to prevent people from getting into trouble in the first place. But when they do, they need our help – and they need it fast. On average, we rescue 26 people every day. And in 2019, our volunteer crews and lifeguards helped over 38,000 people. 

By running with us in the London Marathon, you’ll raise vital funds to kit and train our lifesavers. You’ll help us reach more people with drowning prevention advice. And you’ll bring even more people home safely.

You're in good company

When you run with the RNLI, you’ll be running along the busy River Thames – home to four lifeboat stations. The stations are Tower in central London, Chiswick in west London, Teddington in south-west London, and Gravesend in north-west Kent. Tower is the busiest of all our 238 lifeboat stations. 

Together we can save lives

Running a marathon is as big a feat as weathering the storm to save lives at sea. When you’re out training in all weathers, our lifesavers will be too. When you need encouragement and reassurance, we’ll be there for you, as we always are. And when our lifesavers race to the rescue, you’ll be racing with them. 

To find out more about the RNLI and our lifesaving work, take a look at our online magazine for rescue stories, the latest on our lifeboats and interviews with our lifesavers. 
RNLI London Marathon runners and RNLI lifeboat crew volunteers running to the rescue

RNLI/Jon Stokes and Nathan Williams

Help someone with every mile you run
*The number of people rescued or helped each day by RNLI lifeboat crews is an average figure based on 2018 rescue statistics.

From your first run to crossing the finish line, we’ll be with you every step of the way. Here’s what you can expect from us:

As you train

  • You’ll get exclusive access to our training videos with running experts. 
  • You can join our RNLI Runners Facebook group to share tips and advice with your fellow runners. 
  • You’ll also get access to useful marathon training plans, so – whatever your ability – you can reach your goal.

As you fundraise

  • We'll give you everything you need to reach your fundraising target, from downloadable resources to fundraising ideas.
  • You'll get an RNLI fundraising T-shirt!
  • Our Events Team are here for you if have any questions along the way.

On the big day

  • You’ll get an RNLI-branded running vest to wear. A reminder that you’re running for a great cause can give you a huge boost during the race. 
  • We’ll be there to give you a huge cheer as you run! 
  • You can request a goody bag, with special cheer gear for your proud supporters.

After the race

You, your friends and family will be invited to a post-race reception, where you can get a sports massage and enjoy a very well-deserved buffet

Any time

We like to treat our runners - after all, we're incredibly grateful you choose to run with us! Our partner Haven is offering all RNLI runners up to 10% off stays at any of their 37 UK holiday parks. Once you've registered your ballot place or secured a charity place, we'll email you details on how to book. You can also contact our Events Team at
RNLI Volunteers at the Tower Cheer Station

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates

RNLI volunteers at the Tower Cheer Station

We need volunteers like you to support and cheer on our brilliant runners.

It promises to be a wonderful day – the energy and excitement at the marathon is incredible. You’ll leave feeling inspired by the runners and proud that you helped to raise money for our courageous RNLI lifesavers. 

Interested? There are two types of volunteer roles: cheering on RNLI runners at one of our cheering stations or helping them after they cross the finish line. 

Here’s some more information to help you choose:

Cheering team

We need enthusiastic (and loud!) volunteers to cheer on our fantastic RNLI runners. Your support is a huge boost and can make all the difference.

You’ll be positioned along the race route, either in front of Tower Lifeboat Station or at Canary Wharf. It’s a chance to enjoy the exciting atmosphere of the London Marathon and get a great view of London and the Thames!

Post-race team

We need chatty volunteers to get RNLI runners from the finish line to their well-deserved post-race reception. Here, they’ll get a warm welcome, a delicious buffet and a sports massage. After tackling 26.2 gruelling miles, they deserve it!

You’ll get to meet some incredible people and hear their stories of why they chose the RNLI. 

Why volunteer?

There are several perks. If you volunteer with the RNLI, you’ll:
  • get light refreshments
  • receive a bag of RNLI goodies, including an RNLI T-shirt
  • get to know some of the wonderful people involved – like our runners, their families, RNLI staff and some lifeboat crew
  • boost your CV with some valuable volunteering experience.
There's no prior knowledge of the RNLI needed. Whether you’re a friend or family member of someone running the race, an RNLI supporter, or you’re eager to experience the electric atmosphere of the marathon, we’d love to have you with us.


You'll get all of the information you need closer to the day, but if you have any queries about volunteering at the London Marathon, talk to us at

If you’re under 18, you’ll need to complete a consent form before you arrive on the day. This will be provided to you on confirmation of your role.

Can the RNLI give me a place to run in the London Marathon 2021

There are two types of places in the London Marathon:

  • Charity places are purchased by charities to give to their own runners. Applications for an RNLI charity place for the London Marathon 2021 are now open. To apply for an RNLI charity place for the 2021 London Marathon, please apply here
  • Ballot places are given by the Virgin Money London Marathon organisers themselves. The Virgin Money London Marathon 2021 main ballot application will open on Sunday 4 October and close at 17:00 on Friday 9 October 2020. Only the race organisers can give ballot places at the London Marathon. If you have been given a ballot place or have deferred from a previous year, you can register to fundraise for the RNLI.  

If I register to use my ballot place for the RNLI, how much money do I have to pledge to raise?

There is no minimum fundraising amount for RNLI ballot place runners - we’re extremely grateful for whatever money you can raise. In previous years, ballot place runners have raised around £200-£1,000 each. 

Charity place runners have a minimum fundraising pledge of £2,300 excluding Gift Aid. We recommend using one of the online fundraising pages to make accepting sponsorship money easier for you. Please use the links below to automatically allocate the funds to the RNLI. 

RNLI Just Giving

RNLI Virgin Money Giving

What support will I receive if I register to use my ballot place to run for the RNLI?

Once you’ve registered your ballot place or been allocated a charity place, we’ll support you through your London Marathon journey. Before the big day, you’ll get training, fundraising and media tips by email, a fundraising T-shirt, cheer gear for your supporters and an RNLI running vest. On the big day, you’ll be boosted by our two cheering stations and invited to attend the RNLI post-race reception, where you can enjoy a massage and refreshments.  
For more information about our support package, see the ‘Our support’ tab. A race day guide of what to expect on the big day will be sent to you in July. 
Our Events Team are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the running for the RNLI - get in touch at

How do I register to use my ballot place to run for the RNLI?

If you’ve already been given a ballot place by the London Marathon race organisers or have deferred from a previous year, you can register to fundraise for the RNLI. 

Please be aware we will require proof of your place.

Where will my money go?

Generally, funds raised and donated to us go directly into a central funding pot within the RNLI. This money goes towards things like kitting and training our lifesavers, powering our lifeboats and maintaining our stations. It could fund our education volunteers who share vital safety information with the public. It could help keep our beaches safe with RNLI lifeguards. 

How can my money make a difference?

If you raise £2,238, that could kit out three lifeboat crew volunteers with a helmet to protect their heads, a lifejacket to keep them afloat, and a pair of seagoing gloves to protect their hands and keep them warm. This essential kit is paramount to their safety – and the safety of those they rescue.

Questions? We’re always happy to chat! Talk to us at

To help you prepare for the London Marathon, we’ve got some handy resources you can download. There are sponsorship forms, posters and social media graphics to promote your fundraising efforts, as well as useful training plans to stay on track. 

Remember to check out our fundraising guide, which includes information on how to submit money and raise awareness of the RNLI.

We’re with you all the way. So, if you have any questions, please get in touch on 0300 3009 918 (01 895 1850 if you’re in Ireland), or


Online fundraising pages

Setting up and sharing a Virgin Money Giving or JustGiving page is a great way to kick off your fundraising and make it easier for friends online to sponsor you. You can also find more helpful information, flyers and buttons to help you promote and personalise your page.


Virgin Marathon Giving

Social media posts


Local media

Training plans



Greenwich Park
SE10 8QY
United Kingdom


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