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

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28/09/2012 at 14:46

After yet another rejection magazine from the London marathon (bl**dy smug looking Elvis), I decided to undertake a quick survey amongst my friends on facebook to find out how many actually obtained a place. Since posting earlier this morning, we are on 16 rejections versus 3 places obtained.

This made me curious...how many places are available through the ballot to UK residents? No doubt a good chunk of places get filled through 'good for age' and runners not living in the UK. Also, a very large amount of places are sold to charities. So, how many places are left for the rest of us and what are the odds of actually obtaining a place through the ballot?

I'm sure the truth is a very closely guarded secret and would probably not be good publicity for the sponsors. Still, I'll keep applying in the hope that one day I'm lucky, although I'm starting to feel that I've a better chance of winning big on the national lottery.

seren nos    pirate
28/09/2012 at 14:48

i thought about 25,000

28/09/2012 at 15:05

I don't think its officially published anywhere (although I've never looked too hard!) but my understanding is that its around 25,000 places available and they shut the ballot after they receive 125,000 applicants.  This gives you roughly a 1 in 5 change of getting in (as my figures are estimates).



cougie    pirate
28/09/2012 at 15:06
I doubt it's as many as that.
As you say it's probably a closely guarded secret so all you'll get are guesses ?
28/09/2012 at 15:09

Just realised your facebook poll supports that theory as your ratio is currently just under 1 in 5, but if you had a fourth successful applicant to go with your 16 rejections you would be spot on the 1:5

28/09/2012 at 15:15

Matthew: The last "best guess" I saw was that out of around 45,000 places 20,000 were for the ballot, 12,500 charity and the remainder for last year's deferrers, championship/gfa, 5-strikes-and-you're-in, overseas entries and corporate hospitality.

So that makes it 1 in 6.25 chance of success which pretty much ties in with your 3 out of 19 place winners.

cougie    pirate
28/09/2012 at 15:34
A few years back I coordinated the entries for a company. We had 12 entries and nobody got through the ballot.
28/09/2012 at 15:45
The five strikes and your in was withdrawn a few years back, the whole thing is a farce. I have applied for the last 7 years and only had one successful entry, had to defer and they messed that up. Ok London is the one everybody wants to do but as the number of people who want to do it grows the event doesn't.
28/09/2012 at 16:01

Very interesting, thanks everyone. The whole process seems to be very opaque as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, my little survey seems to back up the 1:5-1:6 chance so far. However, anecdotally it would appear that the odds of getting a place are probably not so good. Very frustrating having it on our doorstep and not being able to take part most years. I've done the charity thing a number of times now, so would struggle to raise £1k+ these days, and unfortunately I'm not quite fast enough for GFA.

Do we have any Virgin employees out there who might be able to influence the reintroduction of the aforementioned '5-strikes-and-you're-in' policy, or something similar?  

seren nos    pirate
28/09/2012 at 16:13

Nicholas............not sure how they can grow the event...............it already massively overpacked...........more number would reduce it to a martahon walk


the 5 strikes and out policy was reduced because even a higher amount are applying and therefore they said they would not have enough spaces to accomodate those....

as well as the ballot places and the GFA places.there are th overseas ones and the charity ones.......then there are those that are given to the runnning clubs and the elite places and the championship places..............they no doubt have a number of places for the main sponsors.......and for boris office to keep them sweet.......and then virgin as well...........and the second ballot places 

so lots of places going around

28/09/2012 at 16:15

One of difficulties with the ballot or anything similar is that human beings are generally pretty poor at assessing probability and what the freqeuncy of events should be. In Nicholas Chadwick's case, approximately 37% of people who applied 7 times would have the same result (1 success), assuming the odds are 1:5 of getting a place each year.

However the algorithm is drawn up, the anecdotal success rate that I am aware of supports an approx. 1:5 - 1:6 chance.

I managed 1:4, success last year, but I had to defer and will run this year.


28/09/2012 at 16:16

I think they did away with that because it reduced even further the number of places available through the ballot!

There is another route to a place, though - running clubs.  Clubs get guaranteed places (the number depends on the number of members they have), and can distribute them as they see fit.

There may be a qualifying period before you're eligible for their VLM places though - only members of at least a year's standing can go in our ballot.

Oh, and police forces get an allocation (not sure if it's just the Met and City of London, or if it's all forces).

Edited: 28/09/2012 at 16:18
28/09/2012 at 16:16

They say there are 125,000 entries to ballot and pretty sure they have published that there are 20/25,000 ballot acceptances making the 1:6 ratio quoted above. Thats pretty good odds to get in compared to some things. Nicholas Chadwick - one entry in about 7 years is just about right and a fair return. They rarely mess up teh admin and often people fail to return forms correctly etc.

The race cant getany bigger so we are stuck 100,000's wanting to do it only 40,000 odd places = disappointment.

There are far too many people who want to run this race. So inevitably lots and lots of people will be disappointed. You tend  to hear more about now from the disappointed people, its human nature to have  a bit of a moan.  

They can't reintroduce the 5 and in rule as within 5 years virtually all places would have to go to people under this scheme (if the odds of getting in are indeed 1 in 6/7 then you only have a slightly better than 50% chance of getting in at least once in next five years.) As soon as they accepted so many people into ballot it was inevitable they had to scrap the 5 and In and can't reintroduce it. Its just a heavily over subscribed race people....

28/09/2012 at 16:33

Well put Keith, a lot better than I could have explained it

28/09/2012 at 16:37

why cant you enforce only ever running once through the ballot system in your life time, wouldnt that help as iv read on here before people who got in twice through ballot couple years apart.

With such a huge amount of people why not have vlm part 2 in the autumn.


28/09/2012 at 16:39
Wilkie wrote (see)

Oh, and police forces get an allocation (not sure if it's just the Met and City of London, or if it's all forces).

so do all the boroughs that the route goes through and the Canary Wharf Group for letting it through there, Lucozade, adidas all the other sponsors. I think your lucky of there are 12,500 Ballot spots left after all this.

28/09/2012 at 16:57

Much as online activity increases the moans we all hear, it is online activity that has forced the withdrawal of the 5 and in.  If people had to fill a form in and post it I think you would see the number of applications drop off  But you can't turn clocks back.

seren nos    pirate
28/09/2012 at 17:53

lisa.....lots of people liked the proposal a few years back that everyone had to run a marathon first before they would be allowed to enter VLM.so that they could prove that they took it seriously and just didn't want to go for teh party...........

as it is so many people just enter ...don't train very hard..........walk it and then never bother with the sport again./.......and so reduce the places for those who run week in week out every year....

I don't agree with that.but there will be a thousand different ways that people think there is a fairer way...................the fact is there isn't because its a lottery..........and so many people want to do it......

28/09/2012 at 18:34

I agree i think its too easy to enter the race these days.In the past you hd to go to a specified shop to get the entry form and then fill it out and complete it. The old method would certainly have put off those who were not really 100% interested and may just decide on a whim to enter. I would wonder if there is any difference in the numbers actually running the event since the online entries come into being?

28/09/2012 at 18:45
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. The great north run had 55k participants this year and Newcastle ain't that big!!!
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