It’s May 1st 2017 and runners world-wide know what that means. It’s the day that the London Marathon ballot opens, we all throw our names into a hat and we wait. And wait. And wait. At the end of September / early October, some of us will be rewarded for our patience with a place into the Holy Grail of marathons. Most of us will be left being bitter on social media, or pretending that we didn’t want to do it anyway.
For those of you who are interested in stats, Dan put a post together exploring the real odds of getting through the ballot. The odds are better than winning the lottery jackpot, anyway.
Facebook and Twitter are currently rife with screenshots of people confirming their entry into the ballot. There are also plenty of comments along the lines of “third attempt, third time lucky?” and so on. And along these lines, there are also the people who claim that they’ve been in the ballot 15 times or more in a row and have never been able to run the race because they have never been successful.
And these are the people who irritate me. By all means, have a moan about your repeated failed attempts. I know I do!
But don’t claim you’ve never got through 15 times in a row. Some are even claiming 20.
The previous sponsor of the London Marathon was Flora, with 2009 being the last year they sponsored the event. They followed what was known as the “5 year rule”. This system meant that if you were unsuccessful 5 years in a row in the ballot, on the 6th attempt, you would be guaranteed an entry.
Virgin, when they took over as sponsor in 2010, got rid of this rule, but honoured it for those who had previously entered the ballot with Flora. I’m not sure whether you had to have just one failed attempt with Flora in 2009 for it to be honoured, or whether you had to have 2 failed attempts (2008 & 2009) as some forums seem to be discussing, but even if you started applying in 2008 and had 5 consecutive failed rejections (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), you would have been guaranteed a place in 2013. If it was honoured from 2009, you would have had a place in 2014.
This means that if you started applying for 2010 like I did, the maximum consecutive rejections possible is 8. If 2009 ballot entries were not honoured, then it’s 9.
I’ve been unlucky in the ballot every year since I started trying to enter for the 2010 race. It’s annoying and I understand why people feel miffed as that’s a lot of years to miss out on. I had a rather embarrassing rant about it myself on my blog a few years back, which I’d love to delete, but feel needs to remain for the sake of honesty.
But please, stop trying to claim that you are the most hard done by of them all. If you’ve honestly been in the ballot 15 times in a row, you’ve had the opportunity to run London.
I’m in the ballot. I’m eagerly awaiting my 9th rejection. I hope this will be the year my luck changes, but if not, we can commiserate together.
And don’t forget, there’s other methods of running. I won a competition to run in 2015. It does happen!