London Marathon reject: Any chance I can still get in?
October 5, 2010 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I applied to run the London Marathon and received my "rejected" magazine last week. Given that I know there is absolutely no way I can make the £1,750-£2,500 required to pledge to a charity, is there any way I can get a chance to run it?

To be clear, I'm not looking for fund-raising advice. I've done the maths, looked at what my co-workers, friends and family will contribute, what I can top up from my own funds and the amount of time I have free to raise money and there is simply no way I can meet the minimum pledges.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to run for charity, but would probably only be able to make something around the low end of three figures. This simply isn't good enough for any of the charities out there who, after paying £300 for a golden-bond ticket, want to maximise their investment.

Given all this, is there no chance of me running the London Marathon next year? Or do you have any tricks or tips that may make it possible for me to still run but without the financial burden that these pledges require?

For example, is there something I could do to bag one of the spaces that become free as people drop out or defer till next year right at the last minute? Or a ticket I could buy which doesn't cost the earth? All ideas and suggestions appreciated.
posted by mr_silver to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total)
Sometimes people sell their bibs online. I'm not sure whether or not the London Marathon allows transfers, but there's definitely a black market for marathon bibs.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:13 AM on October 5, 2010

This happened to my boyfriend here in Chicago. He wanted to run the marathon (coming up next week!), but by the time he went to sign up for it, all the slots were full. Things he considered: joining a charity team, running alongside the marathon as it's happening, doing it himself without any structured marathon, flying to Boston to run in the Boston marathon, doing the Triathlon; all were decided against for one reason or another.

He ended up buying a sweet bike and getting really into cycling again (which he hadn't had a chance to do for several years). He's much happier cycling than he'd be training/running the marathon, and there's always a marathon next year if he really wants to do it.

Once you've exhausted all your other options, my vote is for finding an activity to replace the time you would have spent training and running.
posted by phunniemee at 8:26 AM on October 5, 2010

The amount that charities specify as the minimum to give you a free place is their target rather than your fee. I imagine that a reasonable proportion of runners fail to achieve this target for one reason or another: some have to drop out through injury and many fail to do the preliminary calculation about just how much money they are likely to raise . If you took a free charity space, did the best you reasonably could to get sponsorship - and maybe threw in your own contribution of the standard entry fee on top then I personally think the charity would still be happy and your consciousness would be reasonably clear.
posted by rongorongo at 8:34 AM on October 5, 2010

unless your name is Kathrine Switzer you are unlikely to be stopped by the race director if you chose to run without a bib somewhere in the pack, though you should consider wearing some kind of bib just so that you don't get hassled all that much at the start. sort yourself in with the folks running 3.30/4.00 and the masses will be large enough so nobody will really notice. I write this assuming you are not a >2.30 runner, which is about the point from where you could bypass the lottery and apply for an elite bib and place in that starting block. obviously running without a bib and chip will mean you won't be ranked, timed and you can't use your time to qualify for i.e. boston.

you could check out gumtree and craigslist for bibs or see if you could still join a sports/running club or corporate league but I am fairly sure that would be too late at this point. talk to local running stores. they should know. finally, check out the forums on the british runners world website.

and say hi to Deena Kastor.
posted by krautland at 8:47 AM on October 5, 2010

I don't know anything about this event in particular, but for other similar events (ie: Boston) corporate sponsors get a certain number of spots as freebies in exchange for their sponsorship bucks. At a lot of companies, there is stiff competition for these spots, but at a few companies the spots go unclaimed. Check out the list of corporate sponsors and then poke around in your social networks and see if anyone you know has a contact at one of those companies and can get you one of those slots.
posted by anastasiav at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2010

I don't think you can buy a ticket.

You can get places through being a member of a running club or having set a "good for age" marathon time elsewhere. The problem is that the entries are now closed - as of the 21st August.

This basically means kosher avenues are closed. You could, I suppose, call round charities nearer the time and haggle for a place. There will also be a black market in entries, but "you" won't run the race, officially. If you're that desperate to run London specifically, and run it in 2011 - and not good marathons in places like Berlin or Amsterdam, or London in 2012 - then your options are limited.

I know you're not looking for fundraising advice, but almost everyone running for charity faces the kind of dilemma you face: not how to raise the first grand, but how to raise the second one. I wouldn't be so quick to write it off. You're shutting down the easiest, simplest and most obvious route to what you want even before you take advice from someone who might be able to give you the key to exactly what you want.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2010

You can always bandit the race (run without a bib). Some people frown on this behavior, but I believe you can do this ethically by bypassing aid stations and stepping out of the race without entering the finish area. Ya, it won't be the same, but if you trained long and hard for an event just to be turned away by silly application limits, go for it.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 9:22 AM on October 5, 2010

Banditing races is so lame. Don't be that guy. Just go find a different race to run... if you're in this for the long haul, you'll have your chance to run London.
posted by ph00dz at 9:45 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I know you're not looking for fundraising advice, but almost everyone running for charity faces the kind of dilemma you face: not how to raise the first grand, but how to raise the second one.

I want to second this -- the nonprofit I work for runs two annual fundraising athletic events (a Triathlon and an open water swim). For both, despite the fact that we're a small nonprofit in Maine, the top 3 or 4 fundraisers have easily cleared $3K in donations, just by using social networks, bugging people, and bringing in a ton of $15 -$25 donations. Its hard work but it can be done. Don't totally discount this route if this is something you really want to do.
posted by anastasiav at 9:45 AM on October 5, 2010

Please don't bandit the race. It's unethical.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: To enter the London Marathon:
- Be an elite althete
- Qualify with a good-for-age time (entries already closed for 2011)
- Go with a charity
- Try to get a ticket through the lottery (entries already closed for 2011)
- England Athletics-registered running clubs are given some numbers to allocate to their runners. My (small) club gets 2-3 places each year, so this would be by far the best way for me to get in. But my club also has a you-must-be-a-member-for-a-year-before-you-get-the-london-place rule.

So, contact local clubs and beg, or hassle your friends & family for sponsorship. Or pick another marathon.
posted by mjg123 at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2010

Oh, yes, don't be the bandit!
posted by mjg123 at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2010

I believe you can do this ethically by bypassing aid stations and stepping out of the race without entering the finish area

I don't think so; there are many more costs to an event that size beyond the water stops and the finish line, many of them not necessarily visible. (For example, who's paying for policing? Who's paying for permits for road closures?)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:48 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I sympathise - I entered as an overseas athlete and got the rejection email today. I'm actually from the UK and it does suck that I can't get into my home country (and city) marathon, but them's the breaks, I guess. There are other great marathons around that time - Paris is good which is my backup marathon this time round, and I ran Vienna a couple of years ago as my first marathon distance and really loved it. Of course. that doesn't help if you want to run London specifically, in which case, I'd suggest the club route. There's the bonus that if you want to train for a marathon, club running will set you up really well.
posted by poissonrouge at 6:25 PM on October 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all your comments!

I don't plan on "banditing" the race. To be honest it's the first time i've heard of the name let alone the practise.

I'm unfortunately not good for my age. With my current target, I would need to be twice as old as I am now!

A running club might be possible but they are a pretty dedicated bunch and although I like running, I don't like running enough to be doing it on a cold wet Sunday morning.

I will, however, take a look at whether I can make a higher pledge. I'm concious that within our office there have already been three people soliciting donations - which is going to mean hitting the target much harder than I originally anticipated.

I think I probably won't bother running a marathon in another country. To be honest, if I'm going to fly out there, I would want to make the most of it as a tourist :)
posted by mr_silver at 7:30 AM on October 7, 2010

I can recommend running a marathon while simultaneously being a tourist! It's a great way to enjoy being in a different place, and you'll get a couple of days of holiday for half a day of serious (but worthwhile) effort.
posted by mjg123 at 4:17 PM on October 7, 2010

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