2016 London Marathon - Start Question

I am an American running the 2016 London Marathon for a UK charity. I received a five-digit bib number: 46xxx. I have a qualifying time of 2:39 (6:05 pace) and hope to be placed in a reasonably fast starting area. I understand that I may start in the Red Start. Can I expect to be placed with the GFA runners near the front of the start? Or will I be placed behind all the GFA runners?

Thanks for any feedback.


  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    When you pick up your race number it will have a small sticker with a number on it, thats your pen, should be number 1 with your predicted times. Think I've started from that pen before, took me 11 secs to cross the line.

    GFA runners normall start from green start, they don't merge for a mile so plenty of time to get past them before the merge.
  • I'd take proof of your time just in case they haven't taken this into consideration when allocating the pen.

    I've had GFA starts on green and red.
  • Charity runners start from the Red Start, as indicated by your number. You will be behind all the Fast GFA runners, so it might take over a minute before you can cross the start line. That said it shouldn't be too congested and you should be able to overtake fairly easily. Just make sure you are in the 1st pen of the Charity start and near the front.

  • Thanks for the replies! I appreciate it.

    This is what I was afraid of. I'll have a 2:39 recent result but must start behind slower runners who qualified by virtue of their recent results.

    (And this is getting expensive. I'm raising money for a wonderful charity, but that takes time, effort and a lot of my own money. And international travel is not cheap either.)

    Hmm. Well, I tried to find out more and unfortunately got unhelpful responses from my charity and from the VMLM helpdesk email. I'm not sure where else I can turn to make an appeal to logic.

  • Oh, does anyone have an idea/estimate of how many Fast GFA runners start at the Red Start? (Thanks again for the all the replies.)

  • According to the book - theres a max of 2449 runners on the GFA start on Red.

    So if you are just behind them you won't have a problem.

    There's also 25,099 runners on red that aren't GFA. I guess its possible that you're anywhere in those pens.

    Just take your race results with you when you collect your bib and check the pen number that they have given you. Its a little round number on the bib itself.

    If you show and explain nicely to the query desk I'm sure they can sort you out,
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    If you bring evidence of your PB to the expo they should be able to bump you up to pen 1 of Red (if you aren't already) but you will still be behind the FGFA runners. You will need a different coloured number (yellow background) to get into the FGFA starting area though.
  • Thanks again for the replies. This is really helpful. I hope I don't sound whiny or entitled – I just want to get a fair start to a race in which I've made a lot of investment.

    I've confirmed that I should start from Pen 1 in the Red Start. And I was told there are about 2000 runners in front of me in the Fast GFA pens. I'm getting information via the helpdesk email I found on the VMLM site. I tried to argue that it doesn't seem reasonable that a runner with a 2:39 recent result should start behind 2000 runners who are placed by virtue of slower recent results. Add to that all the effort I'm putting into raising funds for a UK charity. I'm hoping I can eventually find someone with the authority to really hear my case. If anyone has an idea please let me know. (And, yes, I will certainly bring anything to back up my argument when I pick up my bib. But it would be nice to settle something before then.)

  • Kind of sounding a bit whiny really. Why not do a normal marathon if your time is so important? Any other marathon would be better - rock up to the front of the field.

    London is huge. It's never going to be the best for a PB unless you qualify for the champs start.
  • The fact you are racing money for a UK charity doesn't matter...loads of runners are....if you managed to get a place through the international ballot then you would have better chance.....charity runners in the London ballott just puts you lumped in with the fancy dress runners.....on a massive race like London you will not find 2000 runners that much of a problem.....

    You entered through a charity not by virtue of your time so can't really expect to be placed at the starting line by your time...

    Good luck

  • Cougie, I like your honesty. I don't want to be whiny, so this will be my last post here. And thanks again for the helpful responses. To your point I would argue that London has a reputation for being fast. That's what drew me to it. I did qualify for the champs start but that's not available to non-UK runners. I took the only option available to me and was assured by my charity I would be placed according to time. Now I'm stuck with a less-than-optimal start. Anyway, thanks again for your posts here.

    I'm looking forward to my trip to London and hope everyone running the marathon is enjoying the last few weeks of training. Have a great race!

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I'd question how many people you are likely to be stuck behind.  If you look at the results from last year (one of the strongest for times) less than 2,000 runners ran under three hours, and that's all runners from all three starts. Given that all champs start runners plus a good many hundred other sub-3 runners will be running off Blue, plus a handful off Green, the FGFA runners you'll need to contend with can only surely number a few hundred, 1,000 tops??  If you can get yourself at the front of pen 1 on the Red start, my guess is that you'll only really be hampered during the first mile, and it might cost you half a minute but probably not even that.  Mile 2 is flat, and mile 3 is downhill, so you've got a good chance of being on pace or thereabouts by then anyway.

    That being said, use your charm at Expo and just see how far up the front they might be willing to let you start.  Maybe you can negotiate a FGFA start if you show evidence of your race times? Good luck.

  • No PainNo Pain ✭✭✭

    Patrick FGFA on the red start has pen 1 & pen 2. The first pen from the red start is pen 3 which is held back before the start, once pens 1&2 are in place, stewards walk pen 3 round the corner to to join up with about 4/5 minutes to the start. You get about 1000 runners at the most on the FGFA start and most of these will be running well under 3 hours. So I don't think the start will be that much of an issue for you. Enjoy the race and the sights.

  • Dan ADan A ✭✭✭

    As above. But I'll just add that there are 2-3k runners in each pen. You will need to get into the pen (or corral if you prefer) 30 minutes before the start if you want to be at the front of it. 

    20-30s to cross the line from there, and roads are wide enough that you'll be up to race speed by mile 2. No need to panic. 

  • No PainNo Pain ✭✭✭

    Not running as Elvis this year Dan image

  • Dan ADan A ✭✭✭

    No Pain - hi mate; won't be doing that this year.  Got my place on the champs start and they're a bit particular about club vests apparently. Got to take it a bit more seriously and try to run a decent time I suppose.  image

    Will be working on Tribesports stand selling Marathon Talk gear this year at the expo; come and say hi if you're down.

  • No PainNo Pain ✭✭✭

    Dan A- Flying over on Friday and hope to be up at the expo that morning, not sure I will recognise you with out the wig and shades.image Been lurking on the sub 3 Forum, plan for me is a little like last year but hopefully a little closer to 2:55.

  • Brownie28Brownie28 ✭✭✭
    Hi All,

    I have a ballot place (Blue Start) but my Sis is running her first marathon from the Red Start, obviously I'd love to see her before...is it possible to drop her off and walk to the Blue Start from Greenwich Park?

    Cheers, Ange
  • Yep- no bother.
Sign In or Register to comment.