British astronaut to run London Marathon in space

Image: Virgin Money London Marathon

British astronaut Tim Peake is set to run the Digital Virgin Money London Marathon from space next year. He'll take on a 26.2-mile virtual reality treadmill run while stationed on the International Space Station (ISS).

Peake, who's running to raise awareness for The Prince's Trust, will start at 10:00 GMT on Sunday 4th April, at the same time as the real-life race begins in Greenwich. He's run since his teenage years and completed the London Marathon in 1999, finishing in 3:18:59. Peake will use a harness to tether him to the treadmill in order to combat his space-induced weightlessness.

“As soon as I got assigned to my mission to the International Space Station, I thought wouldn’t it be great to run the Digital Virgin Money London Marathon from onboard the ISS,” said Peake. “The London Marathon is a worldwide event. Let’s take it out of this world.

“The thing I’m most looking forward to is that I can still interact with everybody down on Earth. I’ll be running it with the iPad and watching myself running through the streets of London whilst orbiting the Earth at 400km above the surface and going 27,000km per hour.

“One of the biggest challenges I’ll be facing is the harness system. In microgravity I would float if I didn’t strap myself down to the treadmill so I have to wear a harness system that’s a bit similar to a rucksack. It has a waistbelt and shoulder straps. That has to provide quite a bit of downforce to get my body onto the treadmill so after about 40 minutes, that gets very uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ll be setting any personal bests. I’ve set myself a goal of anywhere between 3:30 to 4 hours.”

The Digital Virgin Money London Marathon has been developed by London Marathon and RunSocial, and offers runners to download and run the VMLM course no matter where they are. Using HD video footage of the 2013 and 2014 marathons, the experience gives a 'mixed reality' video for runners to watch while on a treadmill. The video matches the runner's speed, as well as showing avatars representing other runners using the download.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “Tim’s mission will undoubtedly inspire a generation of children to explore science and space. We hope that this extraordinary marathon run in space will also inspire that generation to run.”

The Digital Virgin Money London Marathon is available to purchase now for £4.99 from the free RunSocial app.