London Marathon Ballot system is a joke.



  • Nayan.......

    I only manage to  see one football match on TV and its some final in wembley......

    I want to play a football match and I'm incensed that I'm not allowed to take part in the FA cup final next year.

    some idiots just suggest that there are other football games i could play in........but this is the one i see on TV so I think i have a right to want to play in that one.....for so many people the FA cup is the only cup final .........its not fair 

  • Literatin, I don't think all the women would get in. It's running at around 46%, bear in mind the charity route. They have no control of the sex of those people.

    I suspect the ballot route is close to 50/50 split or maybe even weighted to create more of an even split after GFA and charity places.
  • Tim R2-T2 wrote (see)

    But really it's just a fun run for anyone running slower than 2:10 and I suspect even the elites are selected rather than just allowed to run under GFA.

    Really?!! Not sure the elite women would agree with you there... image


  • Ha. You're being pedanticimage
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭
    This entire thread is about people's sense of entitlement.
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Isn't London the British Club Championship?

    If so it's hardly a carnival for many. How many other races in the country are there where a sub 3 won't even get you in the top 1000?
  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    ...they are entitled to expect but not receive.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭
    Well the odds are like 1 in 30 s strictly speaking They can only 'expect' if they have no understanding of numbers whatsoever.

    It's s random ballot, but also stratified to reduce the odds of having huge bottlenecks due to having too many 5hr 'get me round' types. Get over it.
  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Tim R2-T2 wrote (see)

    But really it's just a fun run for anyone running slower than 2:10 and I suspect even the elites are selected rather than just allowed to run under GFA.


  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Phil the fun-runner!!!!

    What does that make the rest of us?
  • Tim R2-T2 wrote (see)
    But really it's just a fun run for anyone running slower than 2:10  

    Brendan? Is that you? image Love your commentaries.


  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Millsy wrote (see)
    Phil the fun-runner!!!!

    What does that make the rest of us?

    I wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun!  image


  • Tim R2-T2 wrote (see)
    I suspect even the elites are selected rather than just allowed to run under GFA. .

    I don't really understand what this means. In what races are elites not selected according to special elite criteria? If you were a very high level runner who didn't quite meet the elite criteria, but you were resident in the UK or affiliated to UKA, you could just enter using one of the other routes. Like Paula this year - she didn't run as an elite, so she ran for her club in the championship.

  • i imagine that to be elite you must run over such a speed.....maybe London doesnt want all the elites would have to pay too much cash to they select an elite few of the elites

  • Yes. It wasn't a statement as much as a muse.

    The elites are invited to run. I believe the championship start is after the ladies elites go. So even if you ran a faster chip time than an elite it wouldn't matter because the first 50 or so are placed on gun time.
  • I am not remotely elite, so I wouldn't know, but I imagine that they invite some elite athletes they want to take part, and that managers of other elite athletes who want to run get in touch and ask for a place, and if they have run a fast enough qualifying time recently enough, they let them have one. But they don't necessarily offer them an appearance fee, so they'd just be running to get a fast time or to compete for the prize money. So the element of selection would be who gets offered an appearance fee and who doesn't.

    Tim, the elite ladies go an hour earlier. The championship start is just after the elite men, at the front of the mass race. They used to do the championship on gun time but changed it to chip time this year because they held the championship runners back for 10 seconds after the elite men had set off. For the ladies' championship they re-combine the elite ladies' and champs ladies' results, even though those groups are not running together.

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭
    The marathon is non competitive for most of the people in it. Some might be time trialling to crack sub3h45min or whatever but they aren't racing as such.

    Championship runners may well be competing for best running club or whatever team accolade. Or they might be racing each other, or age groupers. I wouldn't call them fun runners.

    But yeah if it's just you and your farming vs your PB you are fun running. Nothing wrong with fun running mind you.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭

    The GFA is heavily skewed in favour of women in the 'senior' category, although it tends to even out as you move up through the vet categories.
    I think when I looked at it last year a 30 year old man needs to hit about 70% age graded to qualify, its closer to 60% for a women of the same age.

    That said I've done it enough times to apply every year but not worry too much if I don't get a place, although they should have retained the "5 rejects and your in" rule (or extend it to 7).

    Galling the loss of club places though, we have ~550 members of which over 300 are seniors. We used to get 3, this year just 2.

  • I can see your point.

    There is only one London Marathon and everyone wants to do it. I personally do not agree with the bulk of the places going to designated charities.

    If you are unsuccessful on the ballot you are left with the stark choice of trying again next year or taking a charity place where you have to guarantee to raise x thousand pounds in sponsorship, which to my way of thinking makes the charitable element of the race little more than an extortion racket.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭
    well its extortion if some bond villain keeps all the cash yes. In this case it goes to worth causes so its not extortion at all. 
    If you are unsuccessful in the ballot you are free to run faster in the myriad other marathons on offer and get your good for age qualifying time too.
    You are also free to pick another marathon too. Plenty do and don't look back.

    I'm delighted the places go to charities - they raise a lot of money and help a lot of people. I also think the London marathon is extremely cheap to enter compared to other major marathons
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭
    There was a comparison with Boston a few comments ago - the vast majority at Boston qualify by running a time (although you have to beat that time by a margin to actually get in), and everyone seems to understand this. If you can't run within the qualification time, then you don't get in. There's a small number of ballot places, with a very small chance of getting in this way, but no-one seems to get upset if they don't get in.

    So not sure why London generates so much frustration every year - they have GFA targets which are tough, but still realistic for many runners who can commit to the training required. The GFA times are noticeably less than at some other big marathons (e.g.- New York).

    For club runners who aren't fast enough for GFA, there are club places. The number of places issued to clubs may have reduced, but the odds of a club runner getting a place via this route are still much better than the ballot.

    The charity places might seem like people are being forced to raise large sums of money for charity, that's because they are, it's the way the London marathon was set up. You don't have to like it, but one its main objectives was to raise £ for charity, and it does so very effectively every year.

    Which leaves the ballot - let's say there are 10,000 places and 250,000 applicants - a 4% chance of success. So not likely to be successful.

    So if you're quick enough you get a place. If you're committed enough to running to be in a club you have another potential route in. If you're determined to get in then there's the charity route. So for everyone else, the odds are against you, but why moan about it? You know how it works, and frankly I'm not sure how they could change it or why they should change it. Just because the ballot system is unlikely to get you a place doesn't mean it's not fair.

  • cougiecougie ✭✭✭
    The aims of the London Marathon when it was set up were :smile:

    • To improve the overall standard and status of British marathon running by providing a fast course and strong international competition.
    • To show mankind that, on occasions, they can be united.
    • To raise money for sporting and recreational facilities in London.
    • To help boost London’s tourism.
    • To prove that ‘Britain is best’ when it comes to organising major events.
    • To have fun, and provide some happiness and sense of achievement in a troubled world.
    I think it's ticking all those boxes.  Well done !
  • Ive always thought London was set up with a strong fundraising ethic - even if the first few were seen as more like 'proper' races. So with this in mind we can't as a whole moan too much about the charity aspect.

    Just like Parkrun - and I've been guilty of this once, shouting at someone to get out of the way when I was really going for it. you have got to remember what it's supposed to be and negotiate your way through the field!)

  • I ran my third London Marathon this year. The first two times that I ran it, I got in through the ballot. This time I was turned down for the ballot, but I got in through an affilliated club place.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭
    They should charge more money for the bib.
  • Chris2304Chris2304 ✭✭✭
    There are three separate issues here, I think:

    1. The ballot itself takes too long. If the ballot closes in May, why does it take until October to know if you've got a place or not? This leads to people rushing their training and the inevitable injuries.

    2. The number of ballot places vs. club places vs. charity places. We could argue this all day. But it's interesting that no one has suggested restricting the number of times someone can run it. If you are rationing stuff (and that what the ballot is doing) that is normally where you start.

    3. The number of runners at the VLM is quite low compared to the GNR, and spread over twice the distance. Couldn't VLM increase the number of places a little?
  • cougiecougie ✭✭✭
    I really don't think you could add extra people and still have a decent race.

    I did GNR once and I'm glad I wasn't 'racing' it - as it's too congested.

    As it is the trains to the start from Central London are heaving.  Could they cope with extra ?  I can't see them coping with extra runners unless they somehow did a staggered start ? And not sure how that would work. Fast runners off at 10 ?  Slower runners off at 11 ?  Naah its too messy. 
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    I agree with Cougs, you can't really add more runners and make it a pleasurable experience. 
    I too did GNR once, and to this day it remains the worse race I've done. 

    Ballot seems fair enough, everyone knows the rules & criteria from the outset. 
    Chris has a valid point that the ballot outcome could be declared earlier, although I doubt having 6 months to train leads to people rushing their training. Most schedules are no more than 18 weeks.
  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    edited May 5
    I'm amazed they left the GFAs where they were for 2018...I thought they'd make them harder.  

    I think people who complain about not getting in via the ballot have to accept that the event is geared up for charity runners (isn't it the largest charity event in the world?) but also for those that are quick enough they are guaranteed a place.  In my view, the organisers can organise the race however they want and I think they do a very good job at meeting their aims.  The fact that so many want to do the race and they're vastly over subscribed every year is testament to that I think.

    I'm not a GFA runner (not by a long stretch!) so have to rely on ballot or club places, but I think the system is fine; like I said, it's their event and they can organise it how they want, and as others have said the rules are set out well in advance.

    I suppose they leave the ballot results until a bit later to try and get some excitement behind the event later in the year.  If it was all done and dusted next week, for example, that would mean waiting nearly a year for the next event.  Again, it's their race so they can do it how they want I think and they've obviously got a system that works very well.
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