Last Sunday, like many others I spent several hours watching the London Marathon. Would Mary Keitany win the women’s race or would her fast start come back to haunt her? Could Charlie Purdue beat Alyson Dyson?
If watching people pounding the streets of London inspired you, here’s my guide of how to apply for a place in next year’s London Marathon which will take place on Sunday April 22nd.
Public ballot. The most common way to apply for a place is through the public ballot. The public ballot system for the 2018 London Marathon opens on May 1st and closes at 17:00 on Friday May 5th. Whereas the ballot used to close once a certain number of people had entered, it’s now open for five days to give everyone who wants to enter a fair chance to do so.
Although arguably this system is fairer as accessing the ballot entry system used to be a bit of a nightmare, it has resulted in a massive increase in the number of applicants. More than 250,000 people entered last year for just over 50,000 places so the odds of getting a place aren’t great. The ballot is drawn completely at random and results are usually announced in October.
Although the odds of getting a place through the public ballot are pretty slim, you’ve got to be in it to win it! If you do enter the ballot then get training now, don’t leave it until the results are announced later in the year.
Run for charity. If you fail to win a place in the public ballot then another option is to run for charity. The majority of major charities have a set number of places in the London Marathon each year through the London Marathon’s Golden and Silver Bond scheme. Each charity then allocates their places to runners on the basis that they will raise an agreed amount of money for the charity.
The London Marathon website has a list of charities with places here. Another really useful website is CRunCH – the Charity Runners Clearing House. CRunCH teams up people who want to run the London Marathon with charities that have guaranteed places to offer.
If you really want to run for charity, then I would strongly recommend that you start sending in your applications as early as possible i.e. now and definitely well before October when the results of the ballot are announced. Most charities ask runners to pledge to raise in excess of £1500 so the earlier you start your fundraising the better!
Be a fast runner! If you are a fast UK-based runner then applications for ‘Good for Age’ entries will open in June. There is loads of information on the London Marathon website here. As a 38 year old female, I would have to run a marathon in under 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Although this is never going to happen, I’m just pleased I’m not a male runner as they have to run a sub 3:05 marathon! If you’re really, really speedy then you can apply for a Championship entry. Standards for Championship entry are currently:
If you qualify for either a ‘Good for Age’ or Championship entry then you are awesome, make sure that you enjoy the 2018 London Marathon!
British Athletics Club entry. One advantage of being an active member of an athletics club affiliated to British Athletics is what I call the annual London Marathon ballot entry rejects draw. Athletics clubs are able to apply for club entries into the London Marathon, with the number of entries given to each club based on the number of affiliated first claim adult members. Athletics clubs with between 1 and 99 members only receive 1 place whereas clubs with more than 300 members receive 4 places.
Although this allocation is not as generous as it used to be – I can remember the year my club actually struggled to find people who wanted to complete the marathon distance – this option still offers another entry route into the London Marathon. Each athletics club will have its own set of rules for entry into their ballot entry rejects draw but I can name dozens of runners who have got a coveted place in the London Marathon through their athletics club.
Enter Competitions. Although this isn’t a guaranteed route into the big event, I would recommend that all London Marathon wannabes find out the names of the major partners and sponsors of the 2018 event and
stalk follow them on social media.
I was fortunate enough to win a place in the 2016 London Marathon through a competition on twitter, and I’ve already spotted a couple of competitions offering entry into the 2018 London Marathon. It’s definitely well worth keeping a close eye on social media.
Because I’m feeling generous, here’s a Virgin Money Giving competition I spotted on social media earlier.
Start a running blog. Although I haven’t been fortunate enough to receive an email offering me a media place in the London Marathon, a number of running bloggers have been provided with entries. While blogging definitely isn’t a guaranteed route into the London Marathon, you never know, one day your blog might catch the attention of an official partner or sponsor.
Become a celebrity. Please don’t!
Finally, please note that all of my waffle above only applies to UK-based runners. If you are an overseas based runner then please have a look here.