Where all the places go

There have been lots of comments in previous threads about how are FLM places allocated, and what are the chances of getting in?

The following sheds some light. I found it in a charmingly entitled article 'Morbidity and Mortality in the London Marathon' (no, honest) by Dr Dan Tunstall Pedoe, published in 'Marathon Medicine - symposium at the Royal Society of Medicine 13-15 April 2000'.

The breakdown for 2000 places was: Elite entries, athletic club places, and certain other organisations (eg Police) - 3,000 places.
Charity Golden Bond places - 12,000 entries
The open lottery - 14,000 places (from 65,000 applicants)
Foreign entries, travel tour operators entries etc - the rest.

I assume bequeathed places fit into the 14,000 lottery places. How 'ill and injured' places carried over fit in isn't clear. Also, since 2000, the 'good for age' standard has been relaxed to allow more people automatic entry.

On the other hand, I know people who put in more than one application through the ballot. It doesn't discuss whether there is any selection based on predicted time, club membership etc.


  • I guess ill and injured sort themselves out - roughly the same amount of people each year would fall ill, and therefore qualify for the next year ?
  • If the figures given are offers of places (rather than actually took part) then there seem to be an awful lot of overseas places. For the 32000 odd who run it, there's about 8-10,000 more(?) who get places but don't run, so 40,000 offers of places were originally made. On that basis over 10,000 go overseas.

    If that's the case it seems a bit off to me - Brits have to take the luck of the draw with ballot places or promise to raise £1000 plus, whereas overseas folk can guarantee a place if they're quick enough by paying extra. Bearing in mind there's probably less people from overseas who want places, it might not even have to be a huge rush.

    I could of course be comletely misunderstanding it.

    The "good for age" might change the balance a bit, but then again, since sub 3:15 used to be a fairly quiet period in terms of bodies passing, these may actually be pretty much extra places "for free" - possibly even freeing up places for slower runners that would previously have been taken up by faster ones in the ballot.

    I've herad of people who put in more than one entry - if both come off they can always hold one over until next year on the ill or injured rule.

    On the above figures - about a 1 in 4 and a half chance of getting in :o(
  • Iain

    The article says 25% of place holders withdraw ill or injured. Now, assuming they all re-apply and are given automatic entry the next year, then out of 40,000 place offers, only 32,000 ish can be 'new' offers (some of the ill or injured can't re-apply as they are already carrying over a place).

    Assuming the numbers above do not include ill or injured, then with 32,000 places, only around 3,000 are for overseas entries.

    No idea if this is how the numbers really work out, but this seems more likely, the overseas desk never seems that busy at registration.

    Just thinking. 12,000 Golden Bond places at £250 a time to the FLM is £3million pa. Say around a third of entrants bequeath their fees. That's about another £500,000. That's a lot of charity income each year for the FLM.

    FLM donations to charity since 1981 - £10.8 million.
  • Excuse me,

    as an overseas entrant, we have to pay £65 to go through the overseas lottery. This does not even entitle us to a free magazine or entry form for the next year if we are successful. We have to pay to have the magazine "Marathon News" sent to us before we even enter.

    Either that we have to pay a lot of money to London Marathon for the package of hotel, race etc. prices for 2003 are CHF 1,300. That is over £500!!!!
  • Amazingly, both myself and my partner have got into the FLM this year via the ballot system. In the past I've failed to get in via this method, but have always been reluctant to raise such large sums of money to get a Golden Bond place. I know my friends and colleagues are generous, but some of the sums required to be raised seem ridiculous, even if it is for good cause. Having run the FLM twice already I would say it is an well organised and an emotionally moving marathon, and the crowd support is second to none, but it seems a shame that so many runners are unable to get in each year. But looking at skip's comments, that FLM donations to charity since 1981 total £10.8M, and yet each year they raise at least £3.5M, then what happens to the remaining £62.7M ? I know the entrance/golden bond sums have probably increased over the years, but this is still a large sum of dosh for organisation and appearance fees. Especially, because so much of the organisation is done voluntarily.
  • Pebbles - It is an unfair comparison I made above. The Golden Bonds have only been developed in recent years, and anyway, the charities should still pay towards the cost of putting on the event.

    But even so, I wonder about the charity angle sometimes. The bequests contribute to the FLM surplus which is donated to charity. But that is after all expenses, which could just mean that it goes into the pot for appearence fees for elite athletes.
  • Hi Swiss Bobby,

    Sorry for being thick. Do you mean that for £500.00 overseas people who don't go through the overseas lottery (or don't get a place that way) can get a place in the run, and a place in a hotel?
  • Anybody in Gloucester in the F.L.M.
  • Anyone know if many of the places allocated to the charities end up unused?

    I recently ran NY, getting a lottery place, but decided to raise money for "Get Kids Going" anyway.

    However, it's a bit much for me to go back to all my friends/workmates, now and ask them to give me more money to run another one.
  • Yes, it's a money thing. There's a certain number of places allocated to tour companies. I've twice run FLM through registering with a tour company, the moral seems to be, if you are willing to pay the money, then there's always a way in. As long as you register by a certain date in January, the tour company guarantees you an entry. So I wait to see if I got in through the ballot, and if not, apply through the tour company. Costs more, because I have to pay for a British Airways flight and a hotel in central London, instead of flying Ryanair and staying with my brother. One day, I'm going to stop, honest!
  • I agree with Oracle. Stop running for the Golden Bond merchants and lets reclaim our event, as a RUNNING event not one mass fund raiser

    OK i know a lot of people will winge 'but it raises money for charity' which is all well and good but whats the obsession with running and charity ? When people ask me what charity I am runnig for at London and I reply I am not they look at me like I am doing something wrong. When golfers go off to play their sport do they feel obliged to get sponsors ?

    If people who sponsor people runnig London want to give to charity why dont they just do it ? why wait until London marathon time? Can you imagine the question if a worthwile charity run short of funds and ceased to exist and asked why no one had donated to it people would say "but I dint donate because no one run a marathon for me to sponsor them"

    I am not being flipant here its just that there are so many people who train hard all year round for this and it must be frustrating to lose a place to someone who will just basically walk round
  • Not all gold bonders walk, some train just as hard....
    This is a discussion that is not possible to agree upon. Good luck to all who enter the ballot and those who start on the day.
  • Moulder

    yes, you've missed the Forest Frolic, but I'm in serious training, wanna arrange some runs?
  • Oracle

    Sure agree entirely

    But one point. How many people running on a gold bond place do so because they genuinely want to raise funds for a charity and how many only to it because its the only way in ?
  • Last year I gained a place in the ballot and then ran for the charity my colleagues were running for to help them reach their target. This year I have applied for a Gold Bond place, sadly our fundraising team is denuded so I won't get much cross subsidy this year. Frankly I would like to run for the pleasure of it and not have the burden of raising sponsorship. On the other runs I do I pay my entry and get on with it, I'd rather Runner fatigue than donor fatigue anyday.
  • So... let me just check...

    There are three ascending options to get in???
    1. Get in on the ballot.
    2. Get in via tour operator.. .pay for flight and hotel etc. £500
    3. Get in via charity... raise £1600?

    If that's true, then I'd definitely pay the £500, rather than commit to raising £1600. Can anyone verify this?? Ironwolf?
  • If you're one of these pure runner types, who want to run for the sake of running and not for the mass participation side of FLM, then you can go and enter another marathon. There are plenty held all around the country. There are also faster courses elsewhere! FLM is for the masses. If you want to be sure of getting in, run for charity. I ran for Phab last year, having to raise at least £850. I raised £600, and paid £250 out of my pocket. A colleague raised over £3,000 for the same charity. The lottery is the only way to cope with the rest. 70,000+ into 32,000 just doesn't go. If I don't get in this year, (I'm doing the lottery this year as I'm suffering from collector-fatigue) I'll just go and sign up for another marathon elsewhere. (Bungay Black Dog, Shakespeare, Sheffield are all within a fortnight of the FLM). Oracle, you are clearly a speed demon, but us trundlers own the race now, and you can't have it back!

    Big Bopper.
    B.O.P. till I drop.
  • GW - yep, you got it.
  • I wonder what none runners would make of this debate. To an outsider you would no doubt appear as a group of anal scrouges. I can’t believe that people are stressing over how a private company divides up the places for its race.

    Ask yourself this why do you want to take part in London? For most of us it is to be part of the spectacle and enjoy the atmosphere. There are faster courses for PBs and more scenic courses. I run a lot recreationally with a handful of races a year. If I’m going to run a marathon I want it to be a big one.

    Without the fun run element do you seriously think the event would get anywhere near as much spectator support or coverage. To non runners running is boring. It’s just not great to watch. When I tell people I’m running London they do assume that it’s for Charity but whilst part of that is because of the nature of FLM it’s also down to the fact that for most non runners they think running is nuts and can’t understand why anyone would do it. It’s the fact that it is “ordinary” people with their various stories that get people out on the streets of London. Most of the people watching the event haven’t even got a clue who the top runners are. They are there to cheer on the stupid fat guy dressed as a womble.

    London can never be all things to all people. But face facts it has a top elite field (would half of them turn up if London wasn’t the way it is, after all winning the London marathon must carry a lot more prestige than winning other marathons not to mention money!), if you’re a fairly decent runner you can still get in via “Good For Age”. Otherwise it’s try your luck via the ballot or go for a charity entry.

    As for this “lets boycott the charity places and reclaim our event” crap please get a life….
  • You can still have fun runners, elite fields, wombles, rhinos, mass spectator support etc, etc without the charities.
  • but you don't though do you?
  • I thought I did say it clearly. I don't want to argue semantics with you but it clearly does have meaning. And for you to in effect dismiss an entire post on the basis of one or two lines in it doesn't exactly provide a rebuttal does it?

    There are always going to be winners and losers in an event that is massively oversubscribed. Fact is there is a lottery (presumably fair but I see some people are sceptical about whether bequeathing decreases their chances), if you can run within certain times you get also get in. Outside of that you can run for Charity. Seems to me when everyone sends their entries in they are more or less in the same boat, sounds kind of fair to me.
  • Oracle, are you saying that you should be given a spot in the FLM simply because you are a Londoner? And there are plenty of marathons that take place in and around London. Why not try entering one of those?
    What I'm trying to work out is why you want to be able to run in the FLM when you make it clear you want to run it for the sake of running a good time, and not for the sake of running with/tripping over tens of thousands of others. Why FLM and not another race?
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