Gfa vlm 2019 - what’s the start like?

hi all,

I've got a gfa place for next year (chuffed). Now, am wondering if it’s worth going all out training wise, I’d eventually like to do 3.20. For a time like that, I would be really in need of it all coming together nicely.

Would it be too crowded around that pace to run a pb? I’m aware it’s not super fast, but would be fast for me. Or does it help having a gfa start? 


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    you'd probably be in pen 2. It is crowded and more so if on green start. People pb at London all the time though. I'd guess you'd have a better chance somewhere like Manchester.

    I've done London 4 times and Pbd each time (though one was my first mara). 
  • Ah cool. What kind of times did you manage? Wondering if congestion is worse at different paces - or if it’s worth just enjoying experience and toddling around slowly v shooting for a pb ...

  • Christine, first of all well done, GFA is quite an achievement (especially since last year!), The Green GFA start isn't as busy as the other start lines, but it is still busy for the first couple of miles. Will you get held up - maybe for those first 3 miles. Will this stop you getting the time you're looking for - definitely not. Ok so you're kind of held up for the first mile or so, but after that it opens up and you'll easily be able to catch this up. It may even help you to set off at an easy pace. At 3:20-ish pace, you will have plenty of space and your time will not be compromised by crowds of people, you'll be ahead of most of them. If you were on 4-hour pace, then it might be a different story, but you'll be absolutely fine.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I have run 3.18, 3.08 and 3.04 in London. I don't recall it being any less crowded in the 3.04 area than the 3.18.

    My first mile in London is always a good 20 seconds off target. No point wasting the energy fighting the crowds.

  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    Don't worry about it - a slower first few miles will only pay you dividends 20 miles on
  • Great! thanks for all your responses, Sol2, DT1999 & rodeoflip. Really helpful to know.

    I've been a bit like a metronome in the 2 marathons i've run - within a few seconds every km. So the starting fast has not been an issue. the marathon i did in denmark was totally dead for the second half (2 loops, of a half marathon course). i barely saw a spectator or another runner! London will be a contrast :) 
  • Hello! I've done London 6 times in times ranging from 2:52 to 3:39 and the most annoying pace to be running in terms of crowds was marginal sub 3-hour pace because there were a lot of people chasing that time. When I was a fair bit faster than sub 3 it was gloriously clear and you could run on the blue line all the way, but pacing a friend at 3:30 pace (we revised it after half way as that seemed sensible and still got her a GFA) was also fine - I was able to run in a little group with all my mates and we were pretty much on our target pace the whole way. 3:20 should be fine too once you're away from the start, because I don't think it's a major 'round number' goal.
  • fair point about it not being a round number. and of course there's pacers to go with the typical goals. 3.15 would be a stretch too far. i mean why can't i have a pacer for precisely the time i would like... (kidding).

    can't believe it's so close now!
  • FreemersFreemers ✭✭✭

     Just catching up on this thread.  Christine, I've run off green 3 or 4 times, with times ranging from 3.13 to 3.24, and never had any issues hitting my paces from the start. The celebs used to go off green as well and you had to spend the first half mile or so getting past them, but the road is wide enough not to cause any real issues.  I think they may have moved the celebs to a different start now anyway(?) and if that's the case even better.

    One thing I found was at the merge with the blue start after a mile, the blue runners I found myself alongside were tending to run a little quicker than me (I suppose because there are more of the real speedy ones on blue so they probably took longer to cross the start line) - and I had to make sure I reined myself back so as not to get carried away with their pace.  I can remember when I was looking for c.7.30s and looked at my watch to find I was running just under 7.00s for a short time.  Sounds like from what you said you're pretty good at pacing marathons, but just watch out for that and check your pace. 

    Good luck with it, hope you have a great run and hit your target time :)

  • Thanks Freemers! i had to go and google blue line etc. Clueless! 

    i have been really good at pacing so far, but maybe also not hitting my best possible time. who knows! 

  • Christine, I have started from Green three times with the celebs and agree that the merger with Blue start runners is like joining the motorway.

    Also, as a VLM Runner's World pacer for the last three years and again later this month, I would suggest that upon joining the Blue runners, you move toward the far right hand side because it can get really congested at the sharp left a little further on - by being on the outside you have a clearer run.  After that you will only have to watch out for the speed humps in the road for about a mile.  After the 2 mile marker there is another slightly less sharp left turn but by then the field has usually spread out.

    Good luck and enjoy your run - it is a fantastic experience that I have had the pleasure of enjoying for the last 34 years.

    You can talk to the Green Start pacers at the Expo NB Run Hub when you pick up your number. I will be there on Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning too.
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