Heartbreak Hotel

Why VLM rejection isn't such a bad thing

By now, the magazine has arrived on your doorstep. You've opened it up, and a runner dressed as Elvis tells you 'Thank you very much, but no thank you very much' - you haven't got into London.


Every year the London Marathon is oversubscribed by 6 or 7 to 1, and only a small handful of those lucky entrants are ballot runners. All the masses of thousands who you see on the telly at Blackheath, those lucky ones, they're running for charity.

So you think about running for charity, and the thought of committing to almost two-grand's worth of fundraising seems like a big ask, particularly if you've been down that route in the recent past.

In the cold light of day, you didn't want to run it anyway (or at least, that's what you'd like to be convinced of right now). So here are some reasons why it's no bad thing. There are plenty of things that make it a great race, but that's for another day.

It's not the only marathon.

There isn't a weekend goes by when there isn't at least one marathon going on somewhere in Britain. Most weekends it's possible to run two or three on consecutive days. You can find a marathon much nearer to home, without the need to travel, where a huge group of your friends and family can cheer you on. And you'll be supporting athletics locally, rather than a big company.

It's not the hardest

Despite what TV commentators might have you believe, it's not the hardest marathon. Not by a long chalk. All marathons are hard - but London's relatively flat compared to, say, Yorkshire or Scotland.

It's not ideal if you're raising money for charity

Yes, in terms of participation and money raised, London probably is the biggest single-day fundraising event in the UK. But think about it for a minute. Before London, everyone knows someone who is running it. Every newspaper devotes space to fundraisers. Every office has a sponsor form up. So everyone who is running it for charity is competing for the same finite pot of money. There are several other races which have the same level of support for charity runners, but are not at the same time of year. A September marathon might raise more (and will certainly compete against all those Great North Runners). And if you can run a local marathon for a local charity, so much the better.

It's not pretty

So, London has its charms, but with the best will in the world, 12 miles around Deptford and Peckham followed by six miles around the foot of Canary Wharf isn't the height of beauty. And by the time you're at the Tower, you're spent! Paris, on the other hand, runs right through the city centre and you get to see, literally, everything. There are plenty of other big city marathon with far more attractive routes.

It's a dear do

London's cheap to enter in comparison with, say, Brighton, which costs about twice as much. But London knows that the marathon's on, and London does what it does best - squeezing every last penny out of visitors. So by the time you've totalled up accommodation, transport to the start (and the Expo) from however far away you're having to stay, food for the weekend, a pint at Chandos afterwards, plus the same for the family, it soon mounts up. You could have a week away, run a marathon and then relax on some exotic beach for less.

So, while you're still reeling from your rejection, get the magazines out. Get on the internet. Get on Fetch more to the point. Find the perfect marathon for you.

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Leave a comment...

  • Brilliant.
  • well said....!
  • Couldn't have put it better myself. Every year I look forward to getting in through the ballot and have managed it once ( after I'd been knocked back 5 times ) in the last 10 years.
    I'll be running the Rutland Water Marathon next month far from the maddening crowd a great course can't wait. Who needs London !!
  • Well said - I stumped somebody recently with the simple question 'Why would I want to do the London marathon when Windermere is on my doorstep'
  • London is on my doorstep and always shocking not to get in :-0 so I travel 200 miles to Windermere to run 10 times round the lake and have fallen in love which I will be returning to next year :-)
  • Quite right
  • well said the problem isnt the running of it its the two grand and pressure to not only train but fundraise to that extent. Its great sometimes to just run for me!
  • After I ran Nottingham last year several people asked if I was now going to do London as if somehow it was the one you had to do. They were surprised when I said 'No they are all 26.2 miles!'
  • It never ceases to surprise me that there are so many people who make such a fuss about running London. Here's to Exmoor and the Malverns champagne thank you.
  • Here's to Rome for me next spring!! Far more sights than London!
  • Puts it all back into perspective I've not dared enter the ballot yet knowing my luck I'd get in and I'd much rather to Medoc ;-) great article guys :
  • I would like to put forward my Brighton place to someone that was unable to get into London. But unfortunately despite it being over six months until the race the organisers deem it not enough notice so I can't transfer. Which I find almost as ludicrous as the hotel prices for London during marathon weekend.
  • DeeGee great article!

    Since I opened my dreaded rejection this morning I've been moping around comfort eating basicaly got my lip on!
    Your wise thoughts here have lifted my spirit an alternative WILL be found and run next spring :)
    This is the power of Fetch in action!
  • Nice article. London is amazing but it's not the only marathon :-)
  • Great article! One to share.
  • You make some very good points there DeeGee. A fine article.
  • I am sorry to disagree but London is the best marathon for me. I admit I am lucky that I get a GFA place so dont need to go through the ballot or charity place. In cost terms its much cheaper than other marathons I have done the organisation is 2nd to none and the crowd support is better than any other race. My local maraton will charge me twice as much in order to muck up the organisation in a different way every year and run less than 6 miles in the city its advertised as being in. They even did away with the grandstand finish and tried to say the school playing fields was an improvement.
  • Ah well yes perhaps compared to Edinburgh...
  • Well it's my 'local race' as I only live half a mile away from the start and compared to other marathons I've run the organisation is second to none!
    I have to admit though that not getting a ballot place is not the end of the world - there are plenty of other very good marathons to run. (BTW I've got a GFA place)
  • Where's the pub that's pictured
  • London is a pretty dull and very busy run there are loads more fun elsewhere in the UK or further afield!
  • A good point well made :)
  • *author*
  • Thanks for a GFA place but still have the added cost of flights and trains but its London is still worth every early morning run in thewind rain snow. Every ache and pain I look forward to that pint of beer in Chandos and meeting with lots of other Fetchies every year roll on April
  • It's cheaper to go to Thailand for a race than it is to do London!
  • London was my first marthon thanks to a place in the Fetch club ballot. I thought I'd never run another race anywhere that was so well supported. then I did Manchester which proved all of your points and more. Great article DeeGee.
  • Brilliant article - bring on Brighton
  • The attraction for London for me is that I'm not going to be fast and I worry about cut off times
  • Have to agree with Pixxy .... got rejected from London AGAIN and frankly find the whole rejection process somewhat patronising. Had already got Robin Hood Half Chester Marathon and Birmingham Half in the diary anyway ..... thoiugh also agree that Rutland Water Marathon is incredibly scenic though quite tough course ... if a little cold. I'll be there in November for the 3rd year with no fear of rejection :)
  • exactly
  • 4th time unlucky and would have been guaranteed in next year under the old system but they have decided to scrap that.Ran it in 2010 and the buzz and the crowds were awesome but have to agree about the scenery it was not the greatest.Doing Edinburgh instead next year and this will be my second running of this particular race and i am really looking forward to it.Quite fancy Lochness again as well but we shall see:)
  • I'm still sulking though :) Bungay for me :)
  • Thank you for such a great article. :)
  • Nice article I do a lot of my long runs in and out of London so nice though it might be to run the VLM I can think of lots of other places I'd rather be running in. Halstead and Paris are my options next April.
  • Great article I'm new to running and have got fed hearing 'have you done London'. I don't get what the big deal is over crowded and London itself is way over priced. Try Chester Marathon lovely route great crowd and really well organised. I run Marathons to achieve something for myself and I don't really care about London if truth be told.
  • Great article after 19 out of 20 rejections for our running club again this year we are not going to bother entering the ballot next year. We will be travelling elsewhere to use up our energy
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You'd see lots of phoneboxes if you did VLM - but none like this one, full of umbrellas, outside a pub in the middle of nowhere. Marathons are everywhere too, and they're not all the same - but contrary to popular belief they're always the same distance.

DeeGee has gone from a 16st lager-powered obstacle to a 12st racing snake, in the process becoming men's road captain for Cleethorpes & District AC, and a proud (but tired) dad-of-one. He's on the road to 100 marathons, which he runs for fun and fitness, not charity, but if you insist, donations are welcome.

Here are some other popular marathon choices amongst Fetchies:
Pos Race 2012 Date Entrants
3 Brighton Marathon 15th Apr 218
4 Edinburgh Marathon 27th May 164
6 Greater Manchester Marathon 29th Apr 137
8 Milton Keynes Marathon 29th Apr 127
18 Abingdon Marathon 21st Oct 90
21 MBNA Chester Marathon 7th Oct 88
31 Snowdonia Marathon 27th Oct 73
35 Beachy Head Marathon 27th Oct 68
38 Baxters Loch Ness Marathon 30th Sep 64
39 Halstead & Essex Marathon 13th May 63
44 Run Liverpool Marathon 14th Oct 59
46 Berlin Marathon 30th Sep 59

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