I mean no disrespect to the over 60s - I am one myself! Maybe I should have said "slower runners".
By referring to "shaping" I meant the ballot is not like putting all the entries into one giant hat and picking out the first 20,000. The predicted times you give do make a difference. If you've got a couple of hours to spare you might like to read this thread from 2011
In it a very intereresting guy called Squeakz gives an insight into the selection process. He was involved in the setup of the systems, but not the ballot itself. It's only a couple of pages, but unless you know computer-ese it will take you several hours to understand it. Good luck!
I got my 5th rejection in a row yesterday, I last ran it in 1994 & really fancied another crack at it but unless I can get a club place (a possibilty) I won't be doing it again, I'll find another one. I really don't believe it's 1 in 4 chance of getting in, the ballot stopped at 160,000, they accept close to 40,000. This figure doesn't include all of the thousands of charity places, I would love to know what the real chances of getting in via the ballot are.
The actual statistics are never made public, but the most reasonable "best guess" I've seen is that out of a total of about 45,000 there's 20,000 ballot places, 12,500 charity places, and the rest for last year's dropouts, five-strikes, overseas entrants, championships, gfas,etc. The ballot closed at 125,000 so the chances of success is approx 1 in 6.
Unfortunately statistics count for nothing in the computer age because it is generally accepted that the organisers "shape" the ballot to give the distribution of finishing times they want. The optimum time to put on your application been debated on these forums for years, with no satisfactory conclusion. However I'd bet that they want the majority to finish around 4-5 hours while the live TV coverage is still on. They don't want a huge number of over-60's (my category) coming in at 7+ hours while they're trying to wind down their operation in the Mall!
Not sure how this has worked - if Stephen R has had 10 rejections on the spin he would certainly have qualified with the automatic place.
You're quite right Grendel. The last time I won a ballot place was for the 2003 race. Got rejected 2004-8 so that earned me a five-strikes-and-you're-in place for 2009. Have now got rejections for 2010-4, which would have got me a 5-strikes place for 2015 had the scheme not finished with the 2014 event! Most annoying.