Forum Spotlight: The London 07 Dilemma

So, have you sent in your form yet? Or are you still mulling it over? If you're in the "to FLM or not to FLM?" camp, you're certainly not alone – there are hundreds of RW forum members wondering whether or not to give it a go in 2007.

There's now less than a month to go until the official ballot closes on October 20 – and then it's a very quick six months until race day on April 22. But don't forget the scores of charities who may find you a place later on, as long as you guarantee to raise a certain amount of money for them. Click here for all you need to know about getting a place in London 07, and here for our digest of what RW members have said about their London Marathon experience in years gone by.

Nineteen-year-old student Ashapalan is one beginner who's wondering whether to take the plunge. "Should I fill in the form or dream on until next year???" he asked a couple of weeks ago, kicking off the Should I enter?! thread in the Flora London Marathon forum. Ashapalan has only been running for three months, but – like many runners and non-runners – has a sense that London is The Event that somehow seals the deal on your status as "a runner".

Other marathons are available...

Big David is one of many to point out that there's more to life than the FLM. "Note: The Flora London Marathon is not the only mara. I did it this year, and spent most of the way round tripping over people. But whatever you decide to do, remember to enjoy yourself." And Sprinting Toffee had some sage advice: "I'd recommend getting in a few 5K, 10K, half marathons etc before you try a marathon."

Every RW member knows that it's a bad idea to run any marathon when you've got barely any running experience and have done precious little training. The pulling power of London leads many people to do just that. And it's true that FLM has its flaws (that's "flaws" spelt c-r-o-w-d-s). However, there's no denying the inspirational power of this famous event – as many of you can testify. "If you want to run London that's fine," says coughie to Ashapalan. "That was my reason for starting running."

Beginners shouldn't be put off by the hundreds of RW members who are coming back for their umpteenth FLM.

There's still plenty of time for a completely new runner to build up to a successful race day, says Velociraptor. "Don't worry about the training schedules at the moment. The most important thing is to build up your weekly mileage gradually over the next few months, so that when you do pick up the sub-4 schedule at the end of December or thereabouts you'll be adding speedwork and 20+ mile runs."

Some of you seem put off by the ballot itself. Too much chance of getting your hopes up, only to have them dashed by the cruel hand of chance. Sad runner explains: "If you have sent an entry form in, you have effectively entered the lottery. There are roughly 20,000 places available for the general public after taking into account GFA [good for age], charity and club places. In most years about 100,000 entries are received, so chances of getting in are roughly 1 in 5, hence the fact that it is refered to as a lottery." But previous years have seen many of you get lucky – more than once, in some cases. Says Happychap: "Entered FLM twice through the lottery, successful twice! You never know :-)"

And finally, some British humour

The 'FLM 2007 - Anyone thinking of doing this one?' thread may come as a welcome antidote if you're put off by vastly experienced runners in earnest discussion about splits and heart rates. "How far is it?" asks Tri Taffia, tongue firmly in cheek. (I hope.) "Can I wear tennis shoes? Will a 'garmin' work and help me run? Oh and can I pay on the day?" Eternal Plodder tries to assist: "I have heard on the grapevine that a few people are thinking about it, is that any help?"

If you do take the ballot plunge and end up disappointed, Max has a cunning plan that you may wish to remember for next year. "I think it's overrated," she says. "And it smells. Nobody else apply for a ballot place. (That's it Max... they may fall for it)."