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As regular readers will know I have a long standing love hate relationship with the London Marathon as I’ve been turned down for a ballot place more than five times and I’ve been critical of it for becoming more of a charitable fun run than a race. 

That said I’d still like the opportunity to race my adopted home city marathon just the once and after a conversation with a fellow runner yesterday I wondered ‘what happens to all the places from those that defer and those that don’t collect their numbers?’

Below is an interesting, though I suspect not completely accurate, piece from the fast4ward blog – the full piece is here. I’ve pulled out some of the relevant (to this post) information here;

Each year thousands of applicants apply for a place in the London Marathon, with the ballot often shutting just days after it opens. But what are the chances of getting a place in the marathon? In 2009 around 1 in 3 people who applied got a place on the starting line (this is, though, a slightly iffy figure – although 155,000 people applied and 49,995 people were accepted, a significant proportion of those applications were for ballot places, which make up around 12,000 entries). And what are the chances of actually making it to the starting line? Um… Not as good as you would hope, it transpires…

A graph mapping the percentage of applicants accepted for the London Marathon and the percentage of those who made it to the start line.

 

Once you’re through the hurdle of getting a place around 28 percent of runners will drop out before they make it to the start line.
 

Further information is a little hard to come by (and this information as it says is iffy at best) and that’s unsurprising given the demand for places – I can’t imagine that VMLM want it known that actually there might be a few slots for hardy runners available, albeit at very short notice. Even if the blog post quoted is woefully inaccurate we know anecdotally that people do drop out and people do decide not to start the race or collect their number. 

So here’s the thing and a thought for VMLM – when you’ve got race numbers left over at the expo, people just haven’t turned up, haven’t made it, have died since entering, can’t be bothered to run it – many of us, who are in constant marathon training would gladly fill those spaces. I’d happily roll up the evening before or early doors on race morning – pay you the entry fee and run in place of someone who didn’t want to.

To me it sounds like a win-win, to you it probably sounds like admin. However, if you’re looking to be an inclusive event maybe these pre-race dropouts could be used to make a London marathon real for someone else. I mean of course there would be disappointment – you’d probably get more people waiting for one of these places than you had actual places but we’d be the types who year in year out attend the race as spectators so it would be a ‘nothing ventured nothing gained‘ queue up.

Maybe something to think about VMLM?

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I love you,
I mean, I really love you,
I love all of you.

Big bums,
Little bums,
Hairy legs,
Smooth legs,
Gurning faces,
Angry faces,
Tired faces,
You’ve pulled them all – me too.

In your Nike Frees,
Or tearing away in your recently purchased and ill advised Vibram FiveFingers, I love you too.

Scratched,
Bruised,
Sick,
Cold,
Hot, I adore your enthusiasm.

Old,
Young,
Boys,
Girls,
Even the odd puppy, you all look great to me.

You’ve been accompanied by Bon Jovi,
Abba and even
The Chemical Brothers,
You’ve listened to podcasts,
Read training plans,
Bought RunnersWorld
Wandered aimlessly around Sports Direct,
Finally found Sweatshop,
Bought lots of stuff
Even gotten up early on a Sunday just to go and do some distance, I salute you.

I remember your sweat,
Some days I can smell it we’re so close
I look at your courage,
And I see myself training for my first marathon 3 years ago.

I love you.
And you’re going to make it.

But I can’t wait until the London Marathon is over and you all decide to get the hell off my streets because I’m running and you’re in my way.

I’m only kidding runners, the London Marathon is upcoming and I’m jealous you’re all running it and I’m not (didn’t get in again) but you’ll have a great time and as your training is coming to its conclusion you’re doing brilliantly and it’s inspiring seeing you all out there. Good luck in the last few weeks and remember it’s only a race.

It’s Christmas I hear you cry, it’s that time of year when the whole world kicks back and takes a bit of a break – well not if you are a runner. For me Christmas Day itself is being moved to Boxing Day because of the logistics involved and because my other half is on call that day and I see no sense in trying to have the traditional quiet day when I could be out running. So my festive morning will be spent motoring through the back roads of Kent before taking my new puppy on her first walk outside – exciting times, but enough about my festive plans there are a couple of more exciting things to talk about.

The first is a brief point, as some of you are aware I used to blog under a different name but gave up the blogging after I’d had some unpleasant experiences, in that time one of my very excellent running friends set up the UltraBoyRuns twitter account and also the UltraBoyRuns WordPress blog and for the first few posts he was blogging as me but after a little nudge and a promise that I would maintain a much lower profile I started contributing again, I’ve now taken over both accounts full time now as my very good friend tells me that he’s had enough of pretending to be me (all the superhero business was a bit much). I am in the process of setting up an archive of the older material as I hopefully made some useful points and interesting posts. Anyway basically I just wanted to say thanks for continuing to read my general witterings and it shall be full steam ahead into 2014 as I look to further improve on my race tally.

The second thing is my overview of 2013.

It’s been a really weird year of running – firstly because it didn’t properly get going until my first race of the year which was the White Cliffs 50 in March and finished rather suddenly at the Snowdonia Marathon in October and while there was a huge amount of training involved during the year it felt like a bit of a failure. I failed to run 3000miles, I failed to qualify for the UTMB, I failed to complete the TG100, I failed to put in a sub40 10k this year, I failed to get into the London Marathon. I felt like a year of failure if I look at it like that. However, there is a flip side. I did complete The Wall and the WC50 both in UTMB qualifying times, I did become an outdoor swimmer and complete both the Great North and Great London Swims, I did record another 3 marathon races and added more than 20 medals to my ever growing collection and I did earn enough qualifying points to make an attempt at qualifying for the CCC, the little sister of the UTMB.

It has also been a year of injuries, there was a broken foot, there have been general feet problems, plantar fasciitis, ITB problems of epic proportions and now an ongoing hip and lower back problem – some of which has been caused by over training and continuing to train while I have been injured.

My favourite medal of the year was the Kent Roadrunner Marathon and my favourite race was probably too difficult to choose but The Great North Swim was amazing and so was Rat Races Trailblazer but for sheer determination it would have been the White Cliffs 50. There is something about crossing the line after 54 official miles and nearly 60 not so official miles with a broken foot  having just sprinted the last kilometre in your Vibram FiveFingers

Next year is a year of ultra marathoning and very little else (well maybe a triathlon and a few other smaller bits) but I’m hoping that I’ve learnt from my 2013 experiences and will use these to power myself forward. My new found love of cycling and swimming will surely only enhance my prospects of keeping middle age at bay and there is a positive feeling in the air that next year might be my year.

Good luck for 2014 runners and keep running, keep blogging.

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