Have you been rejected ?
Feeling unloved and unwanted ?
Is luck never on your side ?
It must be London Marathon ballot notification time again and yes, most of us will get a big fat NO !
I have personally entered five times and been rejected on four occasions, I went for the charity option in 2001 when I had to raise £1200 and was lucky enough to get a place in 2004, since then it has gotten harder and harder to get in and the charities are asking a small fortune for their places, I think the average is between £2000 and £2500 per place.
This year 414168 people applied for a ballot place, of that 50% have never run a marathon before and in a turn around from the first race in 1981 when only 300 of the 6300 competitors were female, this year women make up 44% of the applicants. These are great statistics, hopefully it means that there are more people getting off the couch and taking up running. The England Athletics supported Run Together incentive, including our own So Let’s Go Running groups, is giving new runners a safe, structured and encouraging environment to start running and the confidence to move on and take it further with clubs like SLGR where that support continues. There’s also Park Run which gives everyone the opportunity to run a free, timed 5K every week with marshals, great support and a growing community spirit where you can meet other runners and maybe run together during the week. It’s become very sociable and do-able for all, but that also means more and more people realising that they could run a marathon and applying for London which makes it harder and harder to get a place.
The system used to be that your chances increased the more times you entered until your fifth attempt when you automatically got a place, this stopped in 2010 when it became impossible for them to guarantee all of those runners a place, there just weren’t enough places to go around, but it was very fair, it showed you had the endurance needed to get the place and you would hopefully put the work in to train properly after all that effort but all those poor people who thought they were guaranteed a place in 2010 were out of luck. Now it’s pure luck or lack of, whether you get a place or not.
Some marathons require you to have completed at least a half marathon before entering, not a bad idea given the number of people who have no idea that a marathon is 26.2 miles. Some also have a time cut off, including London, where you are only eligible for a medal and an official finish time if you complete the course by 18.40 on race day, giving you just under nine hours, other races are as little as five hours, which means less than 12 minute miles all the way. Yes, that sounds like a long time to some people, but to the novices and walkers, it would be tight and would you have wanted to do four months training to be five minutes late for a medal ?
As one who has been disappointed, I feel your pain and frustration. I have watched from the side lines at Woolwich for many years and seen people walking, slowly at only three miles and an hour and a half after the race started and yes, you want to scream, Do you know how many people wanted that place ? RUN DAMN IT RUN ! But it is open to everyone and everyone has a right to apply, I just wish some of them read the small print first and at least checked how far it is.
So, if you don’t get in, what next ?
There are lots of charity places available, a few with more reasonable requirements and if you follow this route, pick a charity that means something to you because this will make fund raising less of a chore if your heart is behind it. It is a lot of extra stress and hard work on top of training for a marathon so make sure you have a reason to work for it because most of the charities expect you to make up any shortfall.
Consider another race. Yes, London is London and it’s amazing but it’s not the only one. Consider another city marathon and make a weekend of it. Marathon routes are often quite boring in parts with only highlights along the way so do some research and pick a good one.
Finally, you can pray for the club place. We only have one and you need to be a full claim member to qualify and show us your rejection letters. The place will be picked by lucky dip at the Christmas party and we will be with you all the way to help you train how ever you manage to get a place.