Sunday’s London Marathon will raise over £46.5 million, smashing the world record for the largest annual one-day fundraiser, claims the event’s main man Nick Bitel.
A partner in sports law firm Max Bitel Greene, Mr Bitel has been part-time chief executive of the London Marathon since 1993. Under his authority, the number of people running has grown by around 50 per cent. So, what makes the marathon so popular? “It is the great suburban Everest,” says Mr Bitel, 48.
“People like the challenge. It also gives them the opportunity to take part in a sporting event with professional sportspeople. You wouldn’t be able to play with the players on the pitch at Wembley for instance, or centre court at Wimbledon.”
Mr Bitel expects a full capacity of 36,500 runners on Sunday — the event’s full capacity — and says that around 90,000 applications are turned away each year. He acknowledges there has been a significant increase in Jewish participants. “Peoples’ perception of the marathon has moved away from being purely an athletics event to a fundraising one and the Jewish community is well-known for its charitable fundraising.”
Mr Bitel, whose sports law clients include the Ryder Cup and PGA European Tour, Uefa, Fifa and Wimbledon, is also on the board of UK Sport.
He lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb and is a member of Norrice Lea Synagogue.