The London Marathon: How to Enter

We know of seven ways to get an entry in the London Marathon. These are explained below:

There is also, of course, the celebrity route – we leave this up to you!

The online ballot

Ron Hagell in the London Marathon Entry through the online ballot normally opens one week after the previous year's race.

The successful applicants generally hear in early October; the unsuccessful a few weeks later.

The ballot gives weight to your gender, your likely finishing time, and the number of times you have been accepted or rejected over the past 5 years (ie your odds improve if you have been rejected in the past).

The overseas ballot

In principle, the overseas ballot works on the same basis as the UK ballot, except that the entrance fee is higher.

As an alternative to the overseas ballot, there are a number of "approved" tour operators that offer race packages.  These are listed on

Running for a charity

Thousands of runners raise money for charity each year. It works like this. Charities can buy Golden or Silver Bond places - that is, automatic entries to the marathon which they can hand out to fundraisers. Charities pay about £350 for each place, so they don't hand them out to just anyone. You will usually have to pledge to raise a minimum amount of money to get a charity place in the marathon – usually between £1000 and £2,500.

If you have been unsuccessful in the ballot, or if you entered too late, and you think you can raise, typically, £1,500 or more, then a charity place is your best bet for running the London Marathon.

One way to collect money for your charity is to use the online service at JustGiving which enables your friends to make donations using credit cards.

For the full list of places available with all charities click on the Charity Runners Clearing House.

Entering as a good for age runner

With effect from the 2019 race, the organisers will be allocating 6000 places to faster runners who are below elite level with this number being split evenly between women and men.  The places will be further divided into numerous age bands with associated performance criteria.  The complexity of this arrangement means that you must refer to the London Marathon website for detailed information -

Good for age places are only available to UK residents.  You will need to provide evidence of residence along with proof of your date of birth and proof of performance.

Good for age entries open in early August.

Championship places for faster club athletes

Women who have run a marathon in less than 3:15 and men who have run a marathon in less than 2:45 can apply for a championship place in the London Marathon.

Championship entries must be applied for by the end of December, and the forms submitted in January. (You should not apply for a place through the ballot or good for age entries if you are eligible for a championship place.)

These places have their own start and are for the English and UK Championships. To qualify for the Championship athletes must be UK residents, members of a UK running club and registered with their national governing body. They must be English for the English Championship. Foreign athetes must also be UK residents and registered as such with UKA by their running club. Note that most of these requirements are checked after the race, not before, so anyone getting a championship place who does not qualify creates an administrative burden for their UK club.

Non-resident foreign athletes: please do not join Serpentine as a route to getting a championship place.

Entering through your running club

Each club that is affiliated to UK Athletics is entitled to a small number of guaranteed places, in proportion to its membership. These places are distributed within the club according to its own criteria. The closing date for completed club entry forms is usually early in January.

The Serpentine Running Club is allocated a small number of club places. Details of how to qualify for the ballot for club places are here on the website. You will need to have been a member for at least a year to acrue enough points to apply for a place.

Overseas package tours

A small number of places are sold to overseas package tour companies, who then offer all-in packages including flights, accommodation and race entry. If you live overseas and have not obtained a place in the ballot, you may be able to get a place by buying a package tour.

The official agent for North America is Marathon Tours and Travel.