Marathon Mission: Getting a place for the London Marathon

[Given the big changes to the 2016 London Marathon ballot, I’ve taken a revised look at the chances of getting a place here]

Following the inspirational and mind-changing events of a week ago I must strike while the iron’s hot.  However, it appears getting a place in the 2015 London Marathon is going to be an endurance sport of it’s own right!

There are two ways to “qualify” for a place in the London Marathon.

The first is to qualify by achieving a championship qualifying time at marathon or half marathon distance.  This is the way top club runners can get their London Marathon place.  As a man, I’d have to run a sub 2:45 or a sub 1:15 half marathon.  Given my current half marathon PB of 1:46:59, this is some way over my running horizon!

The “easier” way to qualify for the London Marathon is with a “Good For Age” time.  For a man of my age that means having to complete a marathon in under 3 hours and 5 minutes which, unfortunately is still some way out of my grasp.

The next avenue for securing a place in the London Marathon is through a running club.

Any athletics or running club that is associated with British Athletics can apply for places in the London Marathon.  Places are then distributed by the London Marathon gods depending on how many registered members the club has.  It is then up to the club as to how to distribute the places to their members.

Bearing in mind a club would be lucky to get a handful of places, there’s still competition for these places.  My club holds a draw for their handful of places, although to enter the hat you need to have satisfied a number of criteria.  I’ll be looking to satisfy as many criteria as I can in the hope that I can get into the hat!

For most people however, the first step to securing the gold dust that is a London Marathon place starts with the infamous “ballot”.

As each year goes by the London Marathon ballot becomes more competitive.  This year’s London Marathon ballot opens, and almost certainly closes, on Tuesday April 22nd.  Essentially a huge lucky dip for keen marathoners, the ballot for this year’s race received its maximum 125,000 applications in just over 11 hours.  So even getting a place in the ballot is no longer guaranteed!

I’ve not been able to uncover how many places are available to the successful balloters but given the numbers that are available I would suggest the chances of gaining a London Marathon place through the ballot are about 1 in 6.

If after all this and you still have no place there is still the chance to secure a place in return for raising money for one of the many charities that buy their places through the London Marathon “Golden & Silver Bond” schemes.

Having started my running life as a charity runner I know it’s a great way to both challenge yourself and to do a great deed.  I’ll write more about charity running and the London Marathon bond schemes in another post but what I will say here is that I have been surprised at how the schemes appear to work.

So before I focus on any marathon training it’s time to focus on how to penetrate the fortress that is the London Marathon entry process.  Good luck to anyone entering the ballot with me on Monday, although if you were to forget to enter it would be appreciated!

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5 thoughts on “Marathon Mission: Getting a place for the London Marathon”

  1. I spent 6 weeks in London in 2012 and that visit put the London Marathon at the top of the To-Do list! I will be entering by lottery and crossing my fingers… Good luck to you!

  2. The Metro reported today that for VMLM 2014 there were around 130,000 people entering the ballot for just 10,000 places. I would assume it’s much the same this time around. So a 1 in 13 chance seems to be more like it. Yeeshk!

  3. Yep, only 10,000 places available through the ballot, so it really is a lucky dip. I’m lucky enough to have a good for age time, but before I did it took me five years before I finally got in through the ballot. It’s an amazing race though – certainly the best marathon I’ve run. So, good luck, but if you aren’t one of the lucky ones there is always Brighton or, if you fancy a weekend away, Paris or Rotterdam around the same time of year. I can highly recommend Rotterdam – apart from poor baggage storage facilities!

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