How to get into the London Marathon
- 10 ways to get into the London Marathon – updated to 11 ways from November 2022
- How to get into London Marathon 2024 and future years
London Marathon – ways to get in
How to get into the London Marathon – summary & intro
I’ve run around 50 marathons, including around 20 Londons, so I’m often asked how to get in.
There’s more than one way to get into the London Marathon. Here are 10 ways.
They aren’t all easy & get harder as you go 1-11.
The number of runners who start on the day, from all entry methods, is usually around 40,000. Sadly there are always those who have to drop out from illness or injury. However they can defer their places (see 10 below). To enter by any method, the youngest you can be is 18 on the day.
A note on dates:
Following both Covid marathon date changes and TCS being a new sponsor of London Marathon, we are still waiting to establish a new normal annual pattern of entry dates. This post is regularly updated with the most recent dates, as well as showing you dates from the year before to get a feel as much as possible. Dates should become more regular from 2024 onwards.
10 ways to get into the London Marathon
Most of us know about the famous London Marathon ballot. But by my calculation, there are around 10 ways to get a place in the London Marathon, just not all easy.
But they are worth a look and I hope they help you get in. I’ve got in by 5 methods (1, 2, 4, 5 and 10) before and know people who’ve got in by each of the 10 examples.
So here are 10 ways you can get in, starting from the easiest and getting harder:
The London Marathon 2024 will be on Sunday 21 April, 2024.
1. The London Marathon ballot
Most people apply to get in through the ballot. Every year a new record number apply, with over 500,000 entering the ballot for the 2024 London Marathon. The ballot is completely random, and around 17,000 people get in, so give it a go and don’t just assume you won’t be chosen.
New for 2024 Ballot entry: TCS have announced you can double your chances in the draw if you opt to donate the cost of your entry fee to the London Marathon Foundation.
- If you choose to donate to the London Marathon Foundation when you enter the ballot, you’ll automatically be entered into a second ballot. This doubles your chance of getting a place in the 2024 event.
- If you get into either the first or second ballot, you’ll get a reduced entry fee from £69.99 to £49.99.
- If you’re unsuccessful in both ballots, you’ll still receive a winter training top worth £60!
If you’re not selected in the ballot, there is no waiting list, so you will need to go for another option, with number 2 Charity, being the most popular.
If you’ve got a ballot place, you can still raise money for charity. You just save the charity money as they haven’t had to buy a place for you. You can still register with your charity for marathon support, race shirts and whatever else they are offering to help their marathon runners.
You can enter the ballot as UK or overseas runners. (International runners also see below).
LONDON MARATHON BALLOT DATES
The ballot usually opens straight after the marathon. In a ‘normal’ (non Covid) year this is in April, opening on the weekend of the marathon and closing the Friday after.
For 2024 entry, the ballot will opened from 09:00 Saturday 22 April 2023 to 21:00 Friday 28 April 2023 (all times are GMT). London marathon ballot results will be emailed on 6 July 2023.
LONDON MARATHON BALLOT ENTRY COSTS
2024 London Marathon entry costs are UK: £69.99.
International runners: £120, plus a £26 carbon offset levy.
2. Charity places
Charities buy what are called ‘Golden Bond’ places from the London Marathon. There are around 15,000 available.
Because they have to pay for these guaranteed places, the charities will set a minimum fundraising amount they expect you to raise in return.
The amount varies by charity. £2,000 is fairly standard, although smaller charities may ask for less than this.
To see if a charity you’d like to run for has places, have a look here.
3. Running club places (UK only)
UK residents only. British Athletic affiliated clubs can apply for places, although only around 1,000 are available in total.
Clubs then make their own processes for deciding who gets their 1 or 2 places. Many do a ballot and often link it to how much racing and /or volunteering members have done for the club.
If you’re a UK runner in a UK club, check if they’ve got places and how to get them (most clubs have a Contact link). If you’re not in a club, this could be another reason to join.
4. Running fast – Good For Age Places (UK only)
For UK residents only (you need to prove your residency plus your age). It’s also worth keeping an eye on the times year on year, as they do change in line with how fast people are running. As with many other marathons, the times are tending to get a little faster every year. The qualifying times get slower as your age goes up.
There are 6,000 Good For Age places, split equally between men and women. Note this isn’t guaranteed entry. Places will be allocated on a ‘fastest first’ basis.
So even if you get the time, others in your age group may submit faster times, meaning you don’t get a place. For this reason, it’s a good idea to enter the Ballot (option 1) as back up, especially if you’re near the cut off time.
For 2022, the London Marathon said if you are successful in obtaining a GFA entry, your ballot application will be withdrawn, so it’s worth doing both. They haven’t specified this explicitly for 2024 but advise you to enter the ballot if your qualifying time is within 10 minutes of the Good For Age qualifying time.
The times you need (achieved between 3 October 2022 and 30 September 2023) to qualify for London Marathon 2024 are
|18-39||sub 3:00:00||sub 3:45:00|
|40-44||sub 3:05:00||sub 3:50:00|
|45-49||sub 3:10:00||sub 3:53:00|
|50-54||sub 3:15:00||sub 4:00:00|
|55-59||sub 3:20:00||sub 4:05:00|
|60-64||sub 3:45:00||sub 4:30:00|
|65-69||sub 4:00:00||sub 5:00:00|
|70-74||sub 5:00:00||sub 6:00:00|
|75-79||sub 5:15:00||sub 6:20:00|
|80-84||sub 5:30:00||sub 6:40:00|
|85+||sub 6:10:00||sub 7:10:00|
Good For Age applications usually open in early August ahead of the next marathon in April. GFA 2024 applications will be open by ‘the end of September 2023’.
For 2023, the Good For Age application process closed at 17:00 GMT on Friday 7 October 2022, but the marathon was in October that year.
There’s more info on GFA plus you can enter when it’s open here.
5. Running faster – Championship Places (UK only)
(This is the usual way I get in every year.)
You need to be a UK resident and member of an athletics club associated with British Athletics and have a championship-qualifying performance for a marathon or half marathon.
For London Marathon 2023, Championship qualifying times are as below (unchanged from 2022).
|Full marathon||sub 2:40:00||sub 3:14:00|
|Half marathon||sub 1:12:30||sub 1:28:00|
Applications usually open in November and close in January.
The Championship qualifying period for the 2023 London Marathon is qualifying races run between 1 January 2022 and 31 Dec 2022. Championship entries opened in December.
Keep your eye out for competitions to win places. The best places to look are the race organisers, running magazines or sponsors associated with the race eg Flora or Lucozade Sport.
I usually put links to these on Art Of Your Success social media when I spot them.
7. Being linked to a sponsor
Sponsor organisations linked to the marathon have a small number of places that people working for them are eligible to apply for.
8. Celebrity Places
There’s probably still time to get yourself known and make it onto some kind of Celeb Z list! You’ll then get to start alongside all the ‘real’ celebs along with their better loos at the Green Start!
9. Running really fast – Elite Places
If you’re this fast, you’ll know how to enter, or maybe your agent will do it for you. But for the rest of us, we can agree that anyone running this fast deserves the fewer than 100 elite places!
It’s usually in the range of
Men Sub 2.18.00 Marathon or Sub 1.05:00 Half Marathon
Women Sub 2.38:00 Marathon or Sub 1.14:00 Half Marathon
Elite Wheelchair and Para entry is here.
10. Deferring your place
If you got a place and are then ill or injured, you can defer your place to the next year. You can usually do this up to the day before the marathon.
Note that it’s only the place that is carried over, and you still have to pay the entry fee again the next year.
However, there are a couple of key exceptions where you cannot defer:
You can’t defer Good For Age or Championship places, as these are based on time-limited qualification times.
If you got your place through a charity, competition or sponsor, the place goes back to the organisation that gave it to you. So you would need to contact whoever gave you your place to discuss.
You can read more on deferring here.
11. Lottery via Abbot for Six Star Participants *NEW FROM NOVEMBER 2022*
For 2023, Abbot had 500 places for London Marathon 2023 for Six Star Majors runners who have already earned 3, 4 or 5 stars.
Eligibility – you need a profile with Abbot and to have registered this many stars with them.
Abbot contacted eligible runners on December 5 2022. The deadline for entry was December 12 2022.
Assuming Abbot continue this, expect the draw to start after New York Marathon on 5 November 2023 for London 2024 places.
ENTRY FOR INTERNATIONAL RUNNERS INTO THE LONDON MARATHON
Entry for ‘international runners’ who live outside the UK is via methods 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 above.
Time qualifications by methods 3, 4, 5 are for UK residents only.
International runners can also enter via agreed tour companies for their country. You can see the approved list here.
Choosing a different marathon
If none of those methods work for you, how about a different marathon? There are lots in the UK (you can search Let’s Do This events or see a list of alternative UK marathons), Europe or further afield, around the same time as London, (like Boston the week before London), so you can still train and enjoy the London build up at the same time.
Good luck and don’t give up if you can’t get into London, run in another great place and London will be there for you another year.
Useful links on Art Of Your Success
Comments – please read before posting
You are welcome to comment below. Please take a moment to read the post in full before asking a question, as comments already covered above may not be answered.
Please be aware I am not affiliated to the London Marathon and cannot give out places or special dispensation. This post is purely to help you understand the options available.