Two Virgin hot air balloons will help to turn the capital city red for the 2010 Virgin London Marathon next month as the race celebrates its 30th birthday.

Pilots and crew from Virgin Balloon Flights will be tethering the two brand-new balloons at the start of the marathon on Sunday, April 25, with millions watching.

They include a 70-foot tall Virgin Money balloon, called G-VMVM or "Mike" for short, which has just been completed by Cameron Balloons. It will be under the control of pilot Kevin Meehan from Shropshire, while Mark Simmons from Bath will be the pilot for the other balloon. Both of the experienced flyers will be competing to see whose balloon is on TV the most.

Kenneth Karlstrom, Virgin Balloon Flights’ Director and Chief Pilot, said:

“It is fantastic that Virgin is sponsoring the London Marathon, and we are thrilled to be involved in such an incredible event. We were delighted to be asked to commission the Virgin Money hot air balloon and we are looking forward to showing it off on the day."

The London Marathon started in 1981 and, following this year's race will have raised over half a billion pounds for charity, making it the biggest fundraising event in the world. Around 36,000 runners are expected to take to the capital city's streets this year, aiming to top last year's incredible charity haul of £47.2 million.

Virgin Money is aiming to help runners raise more than £250 million for good causes over the next 5 years and has launched Virgin Money Giving, a non-profit sponsorship website aimed at improving the way donations and Gift Aid are collected, ensuring more money goes to charities.

Virgin Money Giving is the official fundraising website for the 2010 Virgin London Marathon.