The Mini London Marathon is a series of 10 races over the last three miles of the London Marathon course involving more than 2,000 of the country’s best 11 to 17-year-old runners and wheelchair racers.
The London-born Townsend will set them on their way from Old Billingsgate at 08:40 before greeting the winners at the Finish Line in The Mall where he will present them with their medals and prizes.
“The London Marathon is an incredible event and I’ve always loved the special atmosphere in the city across the whole weekend.
“It’s a huge honour to be the official starter for Sunday’s Mini London Marathon and it’ll be great to see the next generation of runners taking on the challenge,” said Townsend.
The Mini London Marathon, which incorporates the official British Athletics Road Running Championships for young athletes, has long been a seedbed for future British athletics champions such as Mo Farah, David Weir and Hannah Cockroft, all of whom won Mini Marathon titles in their youth before becoming Olympic or Paralympic champions.
It has also been a breeding ground for talented runners who have gone on to succeed in other sports, such as triathlon’s Olympic medal-winning Brownlee brothers, Jonathan and Alistair, and the 2013 women’s triathlon world champion, Non Stanford.
Britain’s future stars will represent nine English regions and three home country teams while young athletes from the capital will also run for one of the 33 London boroughs.
Among those to look out for in the under 17s races this year will be Ben Dijkstra from the East Midlands, a double triathlon gold medallist at last year’s Youth Olympic Games in China, and London’s Sabrina Sinha who ran for Britain in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country this January.
Almi Nerurkar returns to defend her U15s title a year after breaking the U13s course record. She is the daughter of former British Olympian Richard Nerurkar, who was fifth in the 1997 London Marathon.
In the wheelchair races Isaac Towers and Nathan McGuire return, a year after both broke the course record when they finished side-by-side. Lauren Rowles will be favourite for the U17s girls’ race. She was a 1500m finalist for England at last summer’s Commonwealth Games.
The start times and T-shirt colours for each race are as follows: