What to do if you didn’t get a London Marathon ballot entry

Have you been disappointed in not getting an entry to the 2020 London marathon for the first/fifth/tenth time? If you want to increase your chances of getting into London 2021 WITHOUT having to enter the ballot or get a charity place, read on our advice about how to go about it…

Get a good for age marathon place

WAIT! Before you dismiss this out of hand as ludicrous, reflect on this; one of our coaches here, Tara, ran her first marathon at 4 hours 48 minutes, no where near a good for age place.  She also had no history of running at school.

Yet nine years on, she runs a sub 3 hours 10 minutes and has gained plenty of good for age places. Likewise, founder of GRTW got 3.55 for her first marathon, and then a few marathons on got GFA, to her total surprise.

No matter what your own current marathon personal best is right now, if you choose the right marathon to train for between now and the next good for age entry window – usually the first week of August 2020 –  you could get that coveted good for age place.

What are the good for age times for women?

There are 6000 spaces a year, divided equally between men and women. If more people than this apply, the faster runners get entry first. How far out are you from your age group window? If it seems far out but you’ve NEVER followed a structured plan with pace training and speed work, then don’t dismiss it as impossible.

Which marathon should I enter?

Choose a flat route, that is generally known for having good weather (no wind!) to improve your chances. More importantly, the event needs to give you enough time to follow a consistent and focused training block to help you work towards your goal.  

To use the momentum of everyone else training for a marathon, Spring marathons are a good idea, in April or May. Our pick of the best are Edinburgh Marathon, described as flat, fast and PB worthy, Milton Keynes , (flat but beware, the route looks dull!), or Copenhagen Marathon, ,

Your chances of running a good for age time however, will be dependent on your experience as a marathon runner. You would probably need three marathons under your belt, before you could take on this kind of training going for GFA simply because you’re more likely to have the physiological and psychological experience as your foundations.

How long a training block should I follow?

We’d recommend a 20 week block, working on strength and conditioning in the first block to improve your running strength and fitness, before you start to build, with important key tuning races scattered in your training diary. 

More importantly, having a long lead time into a marathon means you have wiggle room for holidays, injury and illness without it ruining your plans. 

Are there any other avenues to getting a good for age marathon place? 

Other than charity, ballot or through a corporate work place, you would need to gain a championship marathon or half marathon place, but this requires an even faster times than the marathon good for age so   is not realistic for most runners).

If you are interested in our one-to-one virtual coaching packages to help you plan, strategise and execute a training block for an upcoming marathon visit our coaching pages. If you want to build you strength for running, check out our online programmes