VLM - how many ballot places actually available to UK runners?

21 to 36 of 36 messages
28/09/2012 at 19:11

I've got in 3 times out of 7 ballot entries.... must just be lucky, or in a weird demographic that they like.


They seriously shouldn't make it any bigger - it's busy enough as it is and I will NEVER do the great north run simply because of such a ridiculous number of competitors ( I hesitate to call them runners because how the hell do you run with so many folks in your way - good god - the glasgow half is getting too big and it's only at about 10k).


But hey that's why I usually do smaller races. 

28/09/2012 at 19:25

I think there can only be about 10 numbers available on the overseas ballot. I think I have more chance of swimming backwards than getting a number...

28/09/2012 at 20:05

55,000 people DIDN'T take part in the GNR "only" 39500 ish did so - and think that was biggest field ever.

VLM can't get any bigger, in the peak times it is pretty  rammed around whole course, only way they could take more people is finding more 3:15 and lower runners or over 5:30 runners. Guess complainers wouldn't particularly like either option.

VLM is what it is (biggest and most successful marathon & Charity fundraiser in UK) because of both the running and the charity angle, Do you think the million odd people who turn up on streets turn up to watch the sub 3:15 shawn haired racing snakes at the front or for the middle/back of packers struggling?

VLM is not Boston and making people pre-run a marathon would fundamentally alter race and it isn't going to happen. People say it should be for "proper runners" what ever that means but that misses point - there are hundreds of "proper runners" marathons out there - I wonder why none are as big as London

Still give it a few days and things will go quiet again

28/09/2012 at 20:26
I did always hope that all the fans had turned up to watch me. I do have some hair and am not a racing "snake" though.
28/09/2012 at 20:37

Maybe they did Millsy

28/09/2012 at 20:50

This question of what proportion get ballot places has been discussed and speculated on for many years, and it is just that -- speculation -- as the organisers never reveal the breakdown. But the figures usualy bandied around are in the ballpark suggested -- that you have a 1 in 5 or 6 chance of getting a ballot place.

The race was hugely oversubscribed even before the days of online entry, but at least at one time you had a few weeks or even months to get your entry in before they closed off applications.

What has really changed is this -- that for the last couple of years they have opened applications for next year's race on the very day of this year's race. This is an utterly crazy idea as there must be loads of people watching on TV who get caught up in the excitement and enter online without giving it much thought.

Result? Applications are usually now stopped only 24 hours after opening. Madness.

Why not have a breathing space of at least a couple of weeks before opening applications to make sure you're pretty serious about it?

For the record, I got in on the ballot in 2002, the first year I appled. Since then, not a sniff.

28/09/2012 at 21:16

Thought this year it did open a week or so later?

But two thoughts...

1) Number of people not turning up hasn't changed much - they still get 35/36K starters. So no real evidence that opening early has had a dramatic effect on drop outs caused by people not taking it seriously

2) I guess one of the aims of the organisers (which we may/may not like) is to attract new people. How many people first marathon was FLM/VLM? If they have aim of attracting new people then better for them to have an online entry (rather than shops) and as soon after race as possible. May not agree but understand the strategy.

Its a successful product and one that I doubt theyu will change much

Edited: 28/09/2012 at 21:16
02/10/2012 at 09:38

Thanks for the thoughts and comments everyone, there are some very valid points made. FLM was the first marathon I ever ran and it's been responsible for me running about 40 marathons since. In that respect, the FLM/VLM is certainly a good thing as it attracts new people to the sport. It's also great that it generates so much money for charities. I ran the Berlin marathon at the weekend and I only saw a handful of charity runners.

I will just have to come to terms with the fact that one of the Big 5 marathons is on my doorstep and I won't be able to participate each year. I just hope the odds of ballot entry do not change unfavourably in the future. In the interim, I'll strive to shave 5 minutes off my p.b. to obtain a GFA place and hope they don't raise the bar there either (I think my current p.b. would have given me a place in the marathon a few years back). Talk about moving goalposts  

I certainly don't want them to increase the race size, as the current route is too narrow in places to support the current volume of runners as it is. Perhaps they could look at other potential routes in the future if they wanted to expand the capacity. Perhaps something from the Olympic Park for example?

02/10/2012 at 10:03

Have also contacted family, friends, etc. and have found that out of 27 applications NO-ONE was succesful, obviously we are in a large catchment area and there were too many applicants, still thats the way it goes, we will never get to change it, lol. Good luck to all who have been lucky, may see you on day as I have one more avenue to try 

02/10/2012 at 10:22

I would guess the most oversubscribed entries are those with a 3:30 to 4:30 expected finish time. Slimmer chance of getting a place if this is you, just my assumption.

Am I right in thinking the GFA is pretty much a guaranteed entry? Or is this also rationed? My point being, if anyone considers themselves a "proper runner", and better than the rank and file who rock up for the experience of it all, then train harder and you're guaranteed a place.

02/10/2012 at 10:51

I think GFA is as many places as applied for

02/10/2012 at 11:06

There's no way of rationing GFA places.  If you've run 2:56 or whatever, send off for an entry and fill it in, you're in.  It's the law of large numbers innit - you're never suddenly going to get twice as many people running below a given time.

nicholas chadwick 2 wrote (see)
Why can't they make the event bigger, we are talking about the largest city in the country that holds massive sporting events on a regular basis not some back water.

It wouldn't really matter if London was the biggest city in the world.  Narrow Street would still be Narrow Street. 

02/10/2012 at 11:10

If you have a GFA time then you automatically get in (if you enter).  I think that they have all those confimred before the ballot so they know how many places are left over.  I got in in 2008 and am in for 2013

02/10/2012 at 11:10
With GFA if you can prove your time then you are in. This has to be done before July I think so I'd assume that's why the ballot places are not done until later ad they have to know how many spaces they actually have left. Maybe the number of ballot places varies slightly every year as they would have to factor in the number of GFA qualifiers and also deffered entries.
02/10/2012 at 11:38

I would love to see a split bar chart, with year on the x-axis and number of places on the y-axis, with splits for charity places, ballot places, GFA places, sponsor places etc. Very sad I know!

I don't see why it's such a big secret, unless they really believe it would lead to bad PR and have a negative impact on their brand. More transparency with the running community would be great 

02/10/2012 at 12:00

In effect they can allow as many GFA people as qualify (especially the faster GFA people) without affecting many others as at that end of the race the field is relatively open. No point in limiting the number of sub say 3:15 runners as not many of the first timers (or club runners or charity) will run that fast. Its an argument for tightening the other GFA times at some point however but no evidence they will do that.

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