If you haven’t managed to secure a place through the ballot for next year’s Flora London Marathon, don’t despair: there’s still plenty of time to apply for a Golden Bond place and run for a charity.
In fact, joining the masses who will be raising funds in the months leading up to April can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your marathon experience as you can not only count on fantastic support throughout your campaign, but enjoy all the fun of being part of a team too!
What is a Golden Bond place?
Charities buy places for the Flora London Marathon and allocate these to runners as fundraising places. Some charities set specific fundraising targets that have to be met in order to qualify for a Golden Bond; others let runners set their own targets.
Can I still run for charity with a ballot place?
In a word: yes. The only difference to having a Golden Bond place is that you won’t have to meet a specific fundraising target.
Why should I run for a charity?
Running for a charity will give you an enormous sense of satisfaction from the knowledge that you are helping others. What’s more, the pressure of meeting a target to satisfy both the charity and your sponsors can be the ideal motivation to put in the necessary training.
Your chosen charity will also be on hand to offer support throughout the lead-up to the race. Many manage large groups of runners, and this can really help you to feel part of a team. You’ll also receive kit, training advice and – depending on the charity - be invited to attend motivational events before the big day.
What will the charity expect from me?
First and foremost – money. Fundraising targets can range from £750 to £3,500, and as the number of Golden Bond places is always oversubscribed, charities will look closely for evidence of how you intend to achieve this target in your application.
Runners also play a key role in raising awareness of the charity through the publicity they generate. From the moment you accept the place to when you cross the finishline in your charity vest, you are effectively acting as an ambassador for your charity.
Of course, if you have a personal connection to your charity, sharing your story with the press could be your most valuable fundraising tool.
How can I meet my fundraising target?
Planning and early preparation is key, as work, family and training commitments often mean fundraising can get left to the last minute. Think about fundraising methods early on and get advice from your charity – many of them have dedicated teams who are able to offer advice and support to help you reach your target.
What if I don’t meet the target?
Many runners are put off from committing to charity places, believing that they’ll have to make up the difference from their own pockets if they don’t meet their target. To some extent, charities rely on the honesty of runners and the thoroughness of their applications process to make sure this doesn’t happen. However, charities can alert race organisers if you fail to meet your fundraising targets and this could jeopardise your chances of being offered a Golden Bond place in the future.
If you think you might have problems raising the money or if you encounter problems after receiving the place, contact the charity and explain. They are used to dealing with runners on a case-by-case basis and will appreciate your honesty. Don’t forget, too: you can continue raising and collecting sponsorship money after the race if you’ve still a shortfall on race-day.
Which charity should I run for?
Hundreds of charities across every sector have Golden Bond places. Choose a charity with which you feel a personal connection or in which you have a genuine interest. Believing in their organisational aims will not only give you the incentive to train harder, it’ll also make fundraising easier if you can talk passionately about their work.
How do I go about applying for a place?
Contact the charity either directly or via their website, but do check when the charity stops taking applications first. Some will close soon after October’s ballot announcement, while others may still be taking applications in February. It’s also worth finding out whether the charity operates on a first-come-first-served basis or uses a lottery system.
Is there anything else I should consider?
Fundraising while training is a big commitment. Ask yourself realistically whether you will be able to juggle the two - many people find the race itself easier than the fundraising!