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 opens on the same day as the previous year's race.

The successful applicants generally hear in the last week of November; the unsuccessful in the first week of December.

(If you do not donate your entry fee to charity in the event of being rejected, then you can see a little earlier if you have been lucky by seeing if your cheque has been cashed.)

The ballot gives weight to your sex, your likely finishing time, and the number of times you have been accepted or rejected over the past 5 years (ie your odds go up 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 much higher (around £50 instead of around £25). Anecdotal evidence is that the chance of getting in through the overseas ballot is somewhat higher than the UK ballot (a fact presumably wholly unrelated to the higher profit margin that the London Marathon make on overseas entrants!).

To enter in the overseas ballot, contact one of the tour operators listed on the London Marathon website.

Running for a charity

Thousands of runners raise money for charity each year. It works like this. Charities can buy "Golden 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 £1,000 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

Faster runners can get a guaranteed entry if they have achieved the following times (times need to have been achieved in 2006/7 for the 2008 race):

  • Men 18-40 2:45-3:10 (if faster, see championship)
  • Men 41-59 sub 3.15
  • Men 60-64 sub 3:30
  • Men 65-69 sub 4:00
  • Men 70+ sub 5:00
  • Women 18-49 3:15-3:50 (if faster, see championship)
  • Women 50-54 sub 4.00
  • Women 55-59 sub 4:15
  • Women 60-64 sub 4:30
  • Women 65-69 sub 5:30
  • Women 70+ sub 6:30

To obtain a good for age entry, write to Good For Age, London Marathon, PO Box 3460, London, SE1 0YA; include details of your age and performance (you must include proof, such as a photocopy of the results slip). (Good for age entries close in October) – see official website details.

Good for age entries are available to UK residents only.

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.)

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.

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.