London marathon starting pens? How strict?

Hi all,

I'm doing the London marathon this month but have been injured so my time will be going from estimated 330ish to 4:15hours +. 

I was was wondering is anyone knew how easy it is on the switch on the day? Id prefer to go in a pen where I wouldn't be getting in the way and could be with others of same pace.




  • There's usually no problem to go back. It's trying to get into a faster pen that's the problem.
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭

    Should be fine to just move back on the day - if in doubt, just confirm that this will be allright at the expo?

  • If I remember (and it's been a while) they're quite happy to change your pen when you collect your race number, particularly if you want to move back.

  • Hi guys, I am doing my first London Marathon in April and will be starting the race from the green start line. I used to run alot but stopped a few years back and since gaining a place last year for this years event i have really started getting back into running again.

    When I signed up I put an estimated time of 4 hours 15 mins as I wasn't sure how my body would react to lots of training but after a lot of positive running and vast improvements in fitness over the last few months it would appear 3 hours 30 mins would be a much more realistic estimation. I have contacted the Marathon team and they have said it's too late to change my estimated time so was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to get as good start as possible. Will the green start be hard to move up through? Will this affect my time significantly?

    Many thanks

  • You won't be able to get into a higher pen.

    If you have some stellar results you could try when you collect your pack, but I'm not too hopeful.

    TBH the difference between 3.30 and 4.15 from green isn't that big at all. 

    I know I did a 3.37 I think in my first Marathon from Pen 6 on Blue - and that was a lot further back than you'd be. I think I put 6 hours....
  • NickW2NickW2 ✭✭✭
    If you are starting from the green pen, then I guess you won't have much trouble moving forwards once the race starts. There's a lot fewer people starting from this pen compared to red or blue. I was in pen 9 at the blue start last year, and it took probably 15 mins for everyone to get over the start line - at the red start it's a fair bit longer than that I think as well. So you should be able to "overtake" most of the 3:30-4:15 paced runners at those starts before you join up with them, without much effort really. Try to start towards the front of your pen too.
  • There aren't many pens on the green start, so even if you changed your estimated time you might not change pens anyway.  The route off green isn't all that wide until it merges with blue after a mile or so, rather than weaving in & out you'd be better off going with the flow until there's a bit more room to pass freely.  You might lose a bit of time in the first few miles that way but you'd get that back with interest later on.
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭
    Agree with Cheerful Dave - the green start isn't all that busy, and getting a little held up at the start might not be a bad thing if it stops you from setting off too fast. Just chill and don't worry, there are plenty of opportunities to overtake as the race goes on. In running five London marathons, I've never thought I could have gone faster if only I hadn't been held up. Start right at the front of your pen and run at the side of the road where there might be less congestion. See you there!
  • Thanks so much to all of you guys for your feedback. This is of a great help to me and has eased my mind significantly! Really excited about it now and can't wait.
  • They're very strict about it. If caught switching pens, you will be taken to the Tower of London, have your head chopped off and put on a pike at the side of the race route. :D
  • I'm doing the London Marathon for the first time with my friend in April and we have been given different start lines - I will be in blue, she is in red (according to our numbers and the details in the magazine). In the FAQs it says to meet up at 3 or 5 miles but this is not really going to be practical and obviously we want to start together. it says marshals check you are in the right place - how strict are they? If you are caught, are you disqualified, or do you have to move?
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    From previous experience you have to show your number twice. Once to get through the gate to the start area (Red/ Blue / Green) and the secondly to get into your correct starting pen. 
    They have always been strick from what I have seen and will send you to where you should be 
  • In a nutshell, forget it. Last year, you will have to show your number entering the start area. You go to blue start, they will accept you, but your friend will be directed to red. The same for entering start zones.

    The same with kit bags. You will be given a bag with your number. Your bag will be at blue start and your friend at red. So it will be pretty complicated starting together.

    It would be sensible to pick a obvious spot to meet at 4-5 miles. Blue and red runners come together at 3 miles. So check the course map, go on google streetview and find a ideal place. Pick a time, meet up then run.

    Sorry to disappoint, but that's the only way.

  • Hi there. I'm in the red start, mass start, running for a charity. But my P.B. is 2:29 and it actually reflects my current shape. I estimated 2:30 when I registered. Will they assign me a pen at the front of the pack? What's the fastest pen they have at red start anyway, under 2:45 or something like that? Thanks!
    Will run VMLM 2017 for Starlight Children Foundation
    From Seville, Spain.
    P.B: 2:29:12
  • If you registered with a 2.30 then I'm sure you'll be at the front of red. 
  • Hi I'm on green start it says to travel to maze hill station to get there. It would be much easier from my hotel to go to Black heath station. Can you get from Blackheath to the green start?
    If you can would it take any longer than walking from Mazehill Station?
    Thanks for any replies - I am staying near to Southwark Stn.
  • Yeah you can do that - I think they just advise different stations to help crowd control. 
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    Paco - I think I am right in saying this.  You will be in Pen 1 of the mass red start but you will start behind the FGFA runners at the red start (me included) whose likely finishing times will range from 2.20 to 3.45 so expect you can expect to be doing quite a lot of overtaking early into the race.
  • > @jogjog661 said:
    > Hi all,
    > I'm doing the London marathon this month but have been injured so my time will be going from estimated 330ish to 4:15hours +. 
    > I was was wondering is anyone knew how easy it is on the switch on the day? Id prefer to go in a pen where I wouldn't be getting in the way and could be with others of same pace.
    > Thanks!

    im in blue this year and struggling with an injury, is there a section for people who dont know if they're going to make it!!!!!!
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭
    Kennycapes - dead easy to switch on the day, you're allowed to go back as many pens as you like, you just can't go forward from your allocated pen. If you think 4:15 is a more realistic goal given your situation then moving back to that pen won't be a problem. Can't remember if the pens have times on them or not, if not, look for the one containing the 4:15 pacer?
  • NickW2NickW2 ✭✭✭
    Rodeo - don't think the pens have times but the pacers are easily visible.
  • Hi this is my first marathon. Ive been placed in blue pen 9.  I put down 5 hours as i had no idea but i think i could do 4:15. Does your pen make much difference to your time? Is 4:15 achievable from pen 9? 
  • There's no harm in starting off slower than you want - in fact it might be of assistance to you. It's all too easy to go off too fast and then the legs fall off.

    I did 3.40 from Pen 6 in my first so I think 4.15 from 9 is doable.

    What is your half time ? 
  • Im hoping for 2 hours half marathon. Yeh everyone is saying dont set off fast. Hoping on the day i listern to that! Just want it to be sunday already! 
  • NickW2NickW2 ✭✭✭
    OTerry - try and make sure you start at the front of pen 9 (or at least near the front). Be patient early on and don't waste too much energy dodging round people, you will need the energy for the last part of the race. You will probably be able to pick up the red 4:15 pacers if you want to once the starts merge (they will be behind the blue ones).
  • snewma00snewma00 ✭✭✭
    I'm Pen 6 for Blue start but looking to try and do a sub 4. Any idea which pacers will be in Pen 6?
  • OTerry - I'm in exactly the same boat - you've posted word for word what I came here with!! Can anyone please tell me what time would be best to get to Greenwich so that I can make sure to be at the front of Pen 9?
  • You don't actually move into the pens until quite near e start - getting there early won't help.
    If you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right.
  • I can confirm it is possible to run a 4:15 from pen 9, completed a great time (for me) of 4:17. Absolutly amazing day. Epic
  • nice work ! Glad you enjoyed your day !
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