London Marathon,ballot or hand picked?

Just a thought on the allegded ballot for the LM .

Can anyone explain why it takes till October to select runners? In theory  we are paying for an entry  into an event, which is no different to say,buying Take That tickets is it not?  Why not make it a first come first serve basis?  If a gig for 50000 can sell out in less than a day, surely the Lm can do the same?

My theory? Officials need to an even spread of timed runners. They wont want 5000 3hr runners and 40000 5hr runners,which if it is a ballot COULD happen..

Any thoughts?



  • Flat FootedFlat Footed ✭✭✭

    Take out all the golden bond places, good for age place (well done Cougie!!!), championship places, club places, celebraty places and have the ballot for the remaining two places......i agree why can't the two lucky people find out earlier..........image

    Seriously i think the ballot os for around 10,000 places only

  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    I work on the realbuzz servers which do the ballot, I can state without doubt that it is most certainly a ballot.
    I can get 'geeky' about it if you want further information.
  • Lets get geeky!!!!   Places already picked? All it would take is a website list and were sorted within a week?

    Lets everyone plan another run .ie dates/cost/travel etc

  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    The first thing people do not appreciate the size of the solution or the costs associated with running the ballot, the hosting solution doubles in size and costs for the ballot period, you would not believe the hit rate that site gets when the ballot is released.
    The planning for this is extensive and the configuration and testing more so its simply very time consuming.
    The ballot itself is an algorithm which provides random places based on the information provided when you fill in the ballot entry to ensure that a fair cross section of society and ability is selected. This is why you will never get a field of complete 6hr runners from one area of the uk. Only a certain number of random 6hr places are available, same said for 3hr places for men or women. Who gets these places is totally random

    It's not hand picked, you can get in first time and imho its a more fair and representative of society than the way we vote.
  • Wow!  I always thought that the time prediction came into it but thought that the various demographic information was just for stats.  Perhaps I should try ticking a different job next time round image
  • tricialitttricialitt ✭✭✭

    So if you are a mid- packer ( 4- 4:30hr pace)- do you have alower chance of getting in - since that must be the commonest predicted finish time entered, so they must taek a smaller % of those entered?

    And should we all put ourselves down as living in some obscure outpost of the UK, to improve our chances?

  • tricialitt wrote (see)

    So if you are a mid- packer ( 4- 4:30hr pace)- do you have alower chance of getting in - since that must be the commonest predicted finish time entered, so they must taek a smaller % of those entered?

    And should we all put ourselves down as living in some obscure outpost of the UK, to improve our chances?

    Providing you have someone there to pick up your mail image 
  • I know in the postal entry days, LM assembled a team of people in a hall, told them how
    many they want for 3 hours, 3.15, 3.30 so on and its down to the individuals to decide who's
    in and who's out. Yep, the organisers want a even spread of runners to avoid congestion.
  • Cheers FF !

    Squeakz - have you been involved with the ballot ? I'd have guessed that a random selection of say ten thousand entries would give them the random finishing times they need ? The estimated times that you give in are just an estimate after all.
  • It's the British way, why take the easy route when there's money to be had the hard way

  • Tom.Tom. ✭✭✭
    Runnerman and Squeakz....interesting insight into the methods of selection.

    From what you say it seems that the distribution of finishing times in the actual race is different from the distribution of projected finishing times of the race that a correct interpretation.

    If it is, then as the algorithm selects at random, whilst each sub 3 hour runner will have the same probability of being selected, that probability will be greater than that for all the 4:30 runners. This is because there is a greater number of resource swamping finishers in that time sector, that have to be restricted by the selection process.

    Have I understood this correctly or am I talking bollx (the other language in which I am fluent after English)
  • Quite interesting topic.The planning may be extensive, but why can't it be done earlier, so the results of the ballot can be known almost immediately?  Why would the planning etc be much different from the previous year?
  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    Cougie, im not pesonally involved with the ballot, I am part of the technical team which builds and configures the web servers and database servers which are part of the solution which makes up the VLM website and back end.
    My team work very closely with realbuzz during this time, in effect one of our responsibility is trying to make certain the solution can cope with the load and is available which is not an easy task in itslf.
    I have had extensive conversations regarding the ballot process and know that it is automated process which takes into consideration, the information provided when entering the ballot.

    Im convinced from what I have seen and talking to people that it is fair and truly rando
  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    Ultraslog the planning changes each year as the demands change, there was a increase in the amount of traffic seen during this period compared to previous years as such the same solution was not suitable, it had to grow rapidy which requires plans to be adjusted. Costs have to be justfied and signed off which can take time. It should be easy, but when money, contracts are involved they are rarely quick or easy, but I know nothing about this side of things, I deal with the geeky stuff and it delays things for everyone.
  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    Tom your interpretation is pretty much the same as what mine was after taking to the dev guys who run and maintain the ballot application.
    I understand that the application requires extensive logging of each step in the process for legal reasons in case the outcome is challenged.

    I would also like to state that when enquiring if a person can be 'gaurenteed a place' in the ballot, obviously for technical curiousity I have been informed that it would show up, which pretty much stopped what would have been my very next question, lol

    Having worked with the people involved, I am comfortable that they really desire a good cross section of society and ability and continuously work towards this goal.
  • So its a hand picked ballot then?
  • Not unless the computer has hands.
  • The number of places available to ballot entrants is dependant on a number of things so it's not unreasonable for them to wait until they know how many GFA entries, club applications, championship entries etc they have.
  • Squeakz, as you have access to the database servers, is there any chance you can duplicate my entry 10,000 times so as to increase my chance of selection ? Of course, there would be a beeer in it for you ! image
  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭

    I'm sure that the mice at the unseen university could do the job quite easily.

    I think the computer has whiskers. image

  • ook ook
  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    Bob Colclough 2 wrote (see)
    Squeakz, as you have access to the database servers, is there any chance you can duplicate my entry 10,000 times so as to increase my chance of selection ? Of course, there would be a beeer in it for you ! image

    I have been attempting to buy the dev' guys responsible for the ballot a beer for a while myself, purely out of technical curiousity you understand image  I must admit they have not been tempted yet, which is also reasuring.
    They also extensively log everything to ensure there is nothing unexpected happening and have a very very good setup
    In all my dealings with the guys at realbuzz I find them to be professional and generally decent people, they also have a pretty good technical team who know what they are doing.

  • damn ! image
  • Thanks for the insights Squeakz, all makes a lot more sense.

    I'd disagree on what you said about it being truly random, if its purely algorithmic, then ultimately its predictable, but really, that's not of interest/importance here.

    I was thinking that it took an awful long time, from closing of the ballot to picking the winners, but I guess, they've got to at least wait for GFA (end of July?) and then its what 2/3 months till we find out, which I still thought was quite a wait. I'm putting that down to the logging you mentioned, I know in all my projects of any size logging and i/o are often large time sinks.

    Shame about what you said about people not being able to guarantee themselves an entry. I was planning my 2013 entry to be the only rocket scientist on the Isles of Scilly with a sub 3:00 predicted finish time. Guess I'll have to actually get good at running and work on that GFA, which is about as likely as my aforementioned career and address change image

  • I can let you use a postal address on the island of Hoy (population about 450) for a very reasonable fee image.
  • Just out of interest, does anyone know or can anyone estimate roughly what percentage of aplicants are successful in the LM or other major UK marathons?

     I'm new to running but have an ultimate goal of running a marathon some time in the next couple of years and was hoping the LM would be a good starting point. Which is the best marathon for a begginer?

  • What do you class as other major UK marathons??

    Most, if not all others are done on a first come, first serverd basis.... I have heard that you have a 14 to 1 chance of getting into London via the true this is i don't know.

    Alot of people including myself on here would say that other marathons are better then London anyway...Halstead gets my vote

  • In terms of other UK marathons, only Brighton also has a ballot as far as I'm aware and they're introducing it for the first time for 2012 entry so it's too soon to see what the odds will be. If you want to run a marathon enter one of the many others soonish after they open and keep your fingers crossed for the London ballot some time in the future.
  • And Brighton guarenteed entry for the first 10,000 places,,ballot for the rest
  • It is not really a ballot in as much as if it was then the possibility is that all runners could finish between 3.30 and 4 hours - that doesnt happen

    There is always a  steady stream of finishers. So I had haerd that all the time bracketts are put together and so many from each time brackett are picked. In fact I never put the time I expected to finish which was between 3.30 and 4 - I always put over 4.30 or under 3 - and I got in 10 times. This year put in true time and hey hoo rejection.

    But not knocking its a great event but just think that its a shame its been taken over as a money making vehicle other than a serious race 


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