The London Marathon Expo 2019

Child care arranged, train tickets booked (not by me – I would have messed that up!), passport tucked safely into my bag, along with purse for essential pre-marathon purchases and an extra battery pack for my phone (to ensure my phone lasted long enough to take plenty of running related selfies).

Marathon expo time!!!

London Marathon expo

I picked Anne-Marie up at 9am and we made our way to Bedford train station.  Anne-Marie and I met sometime last year through the Run Mummy Run Facebook group.  Another Mum had asked for route inspiration around the town I lived in.  At the time I was struggling to make run club nights and was really missing what had been regular running out with friends so thought it would be nice to get to know some more people I could potentially head out on a run with in the area.  I offered to lead a few runs from that initial post, and before long, a group chat had been created between 8 of us and we headed out on a number of 3-4 mile evening chatty runs.  Anne-Marie also had a place for London this year and only lived up the road from me so we’ve met up for runs a few more times and decided to head down to the expo together today.  Between the two of us we figured we should be able to work out the train connections and arrive at the expo without too much hassle!

Good job we left at 9am for a 10:20 train leaving 20 miles away though…it took us about 40 minutes to find somewhere to park before a mad rush across to the station!

Three train changes later and a number of people who looked like runners stalked in order to find the correct platforms on our way to the Excel, we finally made it, making our way through the entrance as THE London Marathon theme tune was played.

Next hurdle – ensuring we lined up in the correct lines for our race numbers.  I was also collecting for another runner at my running club who couldn’t make it down to London before the race, so was hoping he had left me with everything required to entrust me with his race pack (and then praying I wouldn’t do something stupid like leave it on the train seat on the way home!  (I didn’t!)

Run LDN sign at the London Marathon expo

Numbers and chips collected – time to roam the expo!  I was hoping to listen to Mo’s talk on stage and also the Barbara’s Revolutionaries later on in the day, but unfortunately due to train timetables and having a curfew to be back for (childcare issues!) it wasn’t to be.  However, I did bump into Adam Woodyatt (Ian from EastEnders) whilst queuing to pay for a tube of Body Glide.  I asked him if I could be that annoying person who asked for a selfie, to which he told me that when he last ran the London Marathon he took over 1000 selfies with other runners during the 26.2 miles!

At the London Marathon Expo with Adam Woodyatt

After an unfortunate incident whereby I picked up a really old (pre-pregnancy days) Gu gel to take out on my 16 miler a couple of weeks back, I also made sure to stock up on enough tasty (in date) Salted Caramel gels ready for Sunday.  I won’t be making that mistake again.  I’m sure I can still taste that foul gone-off gel even now!

High on the priority list for the day was also to exchange my Cancer Research UK running vest for something which fitted a little better.  Initially CRUK had sent me out a Large women’s vest.  However, it dug in under my arms and looked ridiculous.  There was no way I would have been able to wear it without a lot of bleeding during the race and then swearing in the post-marathon shower.  A few weeks back I rang and asked if there were any other sizes available.  Apparently there was…if I was willing to wear a men’s Large vest.  I was.  Leaving everything to the last minute (as ever!) I decided to pop on my new male running vest to head out for 8 sunny miles last Saturday morning.  It felt great.  Rather baggy (particularly under the arms) but the vest seemed OK to run in, and I was assured by my friend Steph that it didn’t look particularly out of place.  I had planned to run 8-9 miles with Steph first thing in the morning, followed by a quick drive over to Kettering with Dan and Oscar for parkrun to top up my mileage for the day.  The second I climbed into the car after my run though my body started to cool and I could feel the beads of sweat dripping onto the areas rubbed raw under my left arm where the too-large vest had rubbed.

Kettering parkrun with Dan, Oscar and the buggy(Photo taken by Jon Woods at Kettering parkrun.)

Five days later and the marks are still visible!  The guys on the Cancer Research stand were great.  Really helpful, and I am now the owner of a Women’s XL t-shirt.  I’ll test it out in the morning, so that I have plenty of time to run, sweat and wash before Sunday!  The guys on the stand also filled my bag with temporary tattoos, foam boards, badges and signs to hold up.

Mary Pearson on the Cancer Research UK stand at the London Marathon Expo

We did manage to catch the end of Martin Yelling on the Main Stage before heading back home again.  I’ve been binge listening to the Marathon Talk podcast on my nightshifts just lately.  I’m pretty sure I hear his voice in my sleep right now!

Martin Yelling at the London Marathon 2019

This is the medal I’ll be making my way to the finish for on Sunday…

London Marathon medal 2019

Fundraising progress – I’m a smidge under £2000 now (the minimum target I was asked to raise by CRUK in exchange for my marathon place).  All being well I should hit this target by Friday as I’m spending the day at ASDA in Rushden, rattling my charity bucket and raffling off a £50 photoshoot voucher for a local photographer.  The target I set myself to raise for CRUK by the end of the year is £3000, and I will continue working towards this target until I reach it.
{Shameless plug for my donation page here}  (Thank you so much to all who have already donated.)
I’m also offering anybody who donates before the marathon on Sunday the chance to win a pass for two to West Lodge Farm Park.  (Just add ‘West Lodge Raffle Tickets’ in the comment section of your donation and for every £1 you donate you will have an extra chance in the raffle!)

I say that I should hit the target ‘all being well’ because Oscar currently has what we believe to be Slapped Cheek.  He is covered in a nasty red rash – lumps and bumps all over his little body!  The nursery he goes to have asked me to get the doctor to confirm Slapped Cheek before dropping him off for his regular nursery session on Friday, as it could also be a number of other things which might be contagious, or harmful to the member of staff working at the nursery who is currently pregnant.  He seems OK in himself, he just has this awful rash all over his body, which (if it is SC) could take 3-4 weeks to fade!  Hopefully it’s nothing serious.  He’s still adamant that he’ll be the one pinning my number on at the weekend anyway!

Oscar wearing my London Marathon number

For anybody who fancies tracking me on Sunday, my number is 51911.  I have no idea how I’ll do.  My speedwork sessions began with 8mm pace at the start of the year with the intention of dipping under 4h 30m at London.  I’ve still regularly ran 5-6 days each week but the sessions haven’t been as quality as I would have liked over the past couple of months.  After getting attacked back in February, I really struggled to get out for runs on my own again for a long while and although I tried to run on the treadmill to begin with, I really struggled with the speedwork sessions and long runs as I find I change my stride too much when restricted to the movement of the treadmill.  I also took a hit with flu for a couple of weeks, am undergoing tests at hospital right now and was diagnosed with anaemia a few weeks back, so my training cycle definitely hasn’t been as planned.  But when does a training cycle go to plan?!!!  What will be will be on the day.  I’d still like to think I can achieve a marathon PB (4h 54m 08s).  But, with the marathon, anything can happen on the day!  Watch this space!!!

My race number for London Marathon 2019

A long blogging hiatus as it’s been an incredibly busy few months.  But I’m hopefully back again now and on it.  Although I’ve possibly regained my momentum a little too late for the London I wanted to enjoy this year, I am finally coming out of the funk I’ve been in and ready to fill my days with lots of long Summer runs again!

Countdown to London Marathon

Are you heading to the London Marathon expo this year?
Have you ever had/heard of Slapped Cheek?
Are you as navigationally challenged as me?!

My goals for 2019

So it’s that time of year when I try and look back over what I had hoped to achieve during the previous year and set myself some aims and goals for the year ahead.
I’ll start by reviewing the goals I had for 2018:

Volunteer at least six times at parkrun including in the role of pacer

Not quite.  This year I’ve volunteered in the role of pacer (30 minutes), barcode scanner, pre-event setup and post-event close down, so I’ve only managed to volunteer four of the six times I had hoped to volunteer during 2018.  (Parkrun suggest that volunteering three times a year is a good target to aim for.)  Although I haven’t met this target, I’m happy that I managed to volunteer four times.  Early in the year, getting to parkrun at all was rather difficult, as I was working through the night until 7am on a Saturday morning each week.  Now volunteering has become more challenging as I often have Oscar with me, but there are still plenty of roles I can help out in and intend to during 2019.  (See 2019 goals further down the page.)

Run Mummy Run takeover at Kettering parkrun

Complete at least six more distances of marathon and above

Done.  I actually didn’t think I had achieved this goal until I sat down and worked it all out the other night though.  But I ran the South Downs Way 50m in April, the Milton Keynes Marathon and Shires and Spires 35m back in May, Robin Hood 100m in September, Dusk ’til Dawn Marathon in October and then Gower Marathon in November.  My marathon total is now 16, and I’ve also run a further 11 ultras in distances up to 100 miles.  That’s 27 events on the list…I’ll soon be heading towards 100 Marathon Club entry…

Milton Keynes Marathon medal 2018

Complete a 100 mile race

I was so, so happy to have completed the Robin Hood 100 in the Autumn!  It meant so much for me to cross that finish line and I will forever be in debt to all the people who helped me get to the start and finish of the race that day.

Robin Hood 100 medal and t-shirt

PB at 5k, half and marathon distances

Fail, fail and mighty fail!  Haha!  2019 was definitely not the year of the PB (unlike 2015!)  My fastest 5k time in 2018 was 27:06 (compared to my PB set in 2017 of 26:35), I walked the majority of Milton Keynes Half in March following an injury (finishing in 2:50:42, when my PB from 2012 is 2:09:16) and the only road marathon I ran during the year was in 28 degree heat.  When I found myself dodging nothing but walkers out on the course by mile 11, I decided to just enjoy the race instead, making the most of the race atmosphere and finishing in 5:32:01, a long way short of the 4:54:08 PB I set for myself back at the end of 2015.

MK Marathon finish in the stadium with a giant rhino costume

Put aside £500 from side hussles each month towards the deposit for a second property

This has been a big success surprisingly.  Without including my standard wage from my supermarket job,-I’ve still managed to bring in a minimum of £500 each month on top of that, whilst still Mumming full time.  I’ve picked up a bit of social media work for a few companies, a couple of design jobs, the odd bit of overtime from my supermarket job, a monthly paper round, some work marking coursework for an exam board, filled in a number of quizzes on Prolific, sold some unused items in our house and have recently started my journey into matched betting.

Rather than go on a deposit for a second property the money has actually all been put aside to pay for our garage to be converted into a playroom for Oscar.  Work begins on the conversion this coming Monday and I can’t wait to be able to give Oscar a space of his own for his toys and games.  So, although the money hasn’t been put aside for a house deposit, it has been used wisely (I hope!), will add value to our house (we already have enough drive space for two cars, and who uses garages nowadays anyway?!).  Working hard to ensure I hit this target each month has shown me that I can side hussle enough money away on a regular basis to make a difference whilst still living reasonably comfortably.

I’ve had a few people ask me about Prolific just lately.  It’s a survey site used by academics.  You fill out a large number of screening questions when you first sign up for an account but then are only sent surveys you are able to answer and won’t be screened out of which is great.  When Oscar is in nursery on a Friday, I spend most of the day catching up with freelance work in our home office on the computer and have Prolific open in a tab in the background.  Most of the surveys are only a few minutes long so if one pops up whilst I’m working I usually switch tabs and complete it.  Fridays are the only day I get on the computer now really since having Oscar, but I have still managed to cash out several hundred pounds over the last year which has definitely helped with household bills!  If you are interested and would like to sign up and give it a go, please use my Prolific referral link(I will get a small reward from Prolific when you cash out for the first time for sending you in their direction.)

Respond to/clear notifications on my phone quickly

I’m so much better at this than I used to be!  I did have notifications set on my phone for lots of rubbish that I never really ever got time to check.  I had a big cull a few months back where I stopped notifications every time certain people tweeted or posted on Instagram and that made a big difference.  I find I really have to be in the mood to be actively engaged on Twitter and I was just letting the notifications all build up at the top of my screen until I had time to go through them, which was never!  Now that I’m not forever clicking through notifications I have a bit more genuine time for Twitter which is nice, as it does tend to be my preferred social media platform.

Eat less processed food and encourage my Dad to do the same

I’ve cut back a bit, although not yet as much as I would like, but more importantly my Dad has made a massive overhaul to his diet.  For somebody who wouldn’t think twice about eating several chocolates a day, (living near to a chocolate factory he was always stocking up on reduced chocolates!) he no longer buys in bags of chocolate for the house.  He has also stopped having rich foods in the evenings and doesn’t eat after a certain time each evening as he realised that his choice of food and drink was affecting his sleep and the way that he felt.  I am very proud of him.  He’s had such a hard year; losing my Mum, his dog, four cousins and going from living in a large bungalow with three adults and a dog to just him, having to learn simple but vital tasks like online banking, writing and sending out Christmas cards (on time!) and keeping on top of the cleaning.  All the jobs that my Mum used to take care of around the house.  He’s definitely picked himself back up and is taking more control again now which is good.

Move at least 10,000 steps each day

I was definitely on target for this.  It gave me a real motivation to get up and moving every day, even on the days I really didn’t feel like it.  Unfortunately my Garmin Vivofit died in the middle of November though and I don’t have the spare money to replace it right now.  Although I didn’t hit 10,000 steps every day, I managed several streaks of 50+ days across the year and easily maintained an average of 12,265 daily steps for 2018 despite the 6 missing weeks of data at the end of the year.  I’m hoping perhaps next year I can justify spending on another fitness tracker, but for now, my arm is fitness tracker free.
I know I’m hitting a minimum of 10,000 steps a day at the moment anyway.  I work overnight into Monday mornings, and I have always covered more than 10,000 steps during a shift.  I then run the remaining six days of the week, with no run (other than my Saturday parkrun) shorter than 6 miles in distance.

Garmin Vivofit steps

Raise money for a cancer charity

I’m only really releasing details of my fundraising plans this week, so the bulk of my fundraising money will be collected during 2019.

Ronnie Staton, Race Director of HoboPace has incredibly generously offered to come and put on a talk for me to help raise funds for Cancer Research on the evening of the 29th March in Wellingborough.  He intends to tell tales of extreme running adventures that he has encountered as a coach and as an athlete himself.  Although this event has been arranged for a while now, I haven’t announced it until this point as Ronnie sadly suffered a stroke shortly before Christmas.  His recovery has been going well though, and he has insisted he still wants to help make my fundraising evening happen.  I am so thankful for the time he intends to put in towards making this work.  I am just waiting for a couple of details to be confirmed on the tickets and then I will advertise tickets on the blog for anybody who would be interested in coming along.

Goals for 2019:

My Pro Planner

Become more confident talking to successful people

I once met Mimi Anderson (at a Write this Run event back in 2013?!)  I sat in the corner of the room quietly whilst other runners posed for selfies with her.  On meeting Will Mellor at a University club night I awkwardly just said “Can I have a photo?” when he tried to start up a conversation with me.  I’ve met quite a few famous people over the years.  (I had lunch with Katy Hill as a teenager and once sat and chatted to Frankie Dettori for a good twenty minutes. – I didn’t know who he was until afterwards, but that’s a whole other story!)

I want to become more confident with talking to people I view as successful.  I find myself mumbling and without anything interesting to say, when I know that chances of a lifetime are slipping away!  This coming weekend I’m heading to The Running Show as an ambassador for the event.  I will be having photos taken alongside the other ambassadors and speakers on both days.  Having my photo taken alongside such inspiring people as Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Nell McAndrew, – heroes of mine.  I want to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone, ask for selfies, chat to those people and learn as much as I can from the experience.  With my VIP entry I also have access to the VIP room and the VIP meet and greet area.  I am so looking forward to the experience and really hope I can come out of my shell enough in order to make the most of the weekend.

Me with Will Mellor at Zanzibar in Stafford(Picture from 2008 – there’s a blast from the past!)

Run a sub 4h 30m marathon

This WILL happen.  It’s my main focus for the year.  At the moment I’m putting everything into my London marathon training.  No shiny ultras are going to distract me along the way this time!

Raise £3000+ for Cancer Research

Too many members of my family have died from cancer during the last 18 months.  It scares me to think that without research even more family members could go down the same horrible route as my Mum.  It scares me to think that Oscar’s family could slip away from him all due to the horrible illness.  I want to be a part in helping to raise money for research to a cure and prevention.

Volunteer at parkrun at least six times, including in a new volunteer role

At the back of my mind I still really want to get a parkrun set up in our area, closer to home.  I’ve had a couple of knock backs from local parks this past year but one day I’ll get there and I’ll be able to set something up I’m sure.  When that day comes I’d like to have enough experience in the different roles to be able to assess what is required at the new event.  I love the whole parkrun concept, and have known so many non-runners find the running bug after starting their running lives at the free 5k parkrun on a Saturday morning.

Declutter our house

This is a big thing for me.

My Dad is a hoarder.  Not the kind you see on Channel four shows where the occupants of a house can barely make their way to the chair in the corner of the room and the bed hasn’t been seen for weeks.  But, he’s always been a bit of a wheeler-dealer.  He’s brought ‘bargains’ back from auctionhouses with the intention of selling them on for profit, and rarely throws anything away, just in case it comes in useful one day.  His large five bed bungalow is very much full, and when my Nan (his Mum) died back in 2003 he built a large cabin-type shed in the garden to store her belongings.  It still contains china and furniture and hundreds of photographs which he has put off sorting through.

I take after my Dad.  An eye for a bargain and a hoarder of nostalgia.  I have boxes of items of belongings that are only meaningful to me.
Having grown up sharing a room with his brother, when I first met Dan he had very few personal belongings.  You could fit them all into one very small box.  He has a few more now, but still nothing in comparison to the items I have in our house.

This past year though, since my Mum died and since having Oscar I feel as though I’m finally ready to start letting go of some of those belongings.  I would much rather be spending quality time with my family than digging through boxes of paperwork to find a guarantee for something I never got round to filing, or having to spend time tidying away and cleaning under piles of things I don’t pick up for years at a time.

I’ve bought very few things into the house during 2018, as we have made huge cut-backs in order that I can remain a full time Mum to Oscar.  It has done wonders for the clutter and staying at home has also given me a chance to begin clearing out and organising the space we do have.  It also helps that I’ve become addicted to shows like Tidying Up and Consumed on Netflix since the start of the year!  I want to spend my time with people, not things.  This year I really want to clear out a good 30% of our items and become more minimalist about our belongings.  My Dad has also asked me on a number of occasions now if I will help clear his house, so it will be a good year for us both I hope.

Continue blogging each week and retain blogging friendships

This is probably the hardest item on the list.  To find a spare three hours or so to write a meaningful blog post each week is a really tough ask when I already cram so much else into my week, but I hate it when I don’t get time to write about a race, or leave it so long to write up my recap that I’ve forgotten half of the details.  I love the blogging life – it’s become a real outlet for me over the past few years.  I’ve gone from hiding away, hoping nobody I knew found out about my little corner on the internet, to sharing my blog address with runners from my running club and letting real life friends follow my AHM Instagram account.  I’ve been invited to some fantastic events over the years and met some lovely people through blogging that I’m proud to call friends now.  I hate that I don’t have the time to put into blogging and reading the blogs of friends that I once had, but hope to put more of a focus on this again during 2019.

How many hours do you spend writing blog posts?
Are you a hoarder?

Ever met anybody famous?  Do you go all shy or ask for a picture?

Hanson’s Marathon Method plans

I have a charity place in the London Marathon next year. (I’m running for Cancer Research UK)

The fundraising target I have set for myself is to raise £3000+ by the time I run London on the 28th April.  The charity asked for a minimum pledge of £2000 but I hope to raise more.  I will post details on the blog as I have them in the New Year, but the two main events I will be holding are:

1) An evening presentation led by a race director.
2) A pub quiz based entirely around running questions.

I’m really looking forward to finalising arrangements and for these fundraisers to unfold.

I read a BBC news article online the other evening entitled Fraudulent charity runners condemned.  I was horrified to read that ‘following a BBC investigation, 1278 people who accepted places paid for by charities in 2017 were recorded as raising nothing.’  It goes on to mention that in regards to the 2017 Great North Run ‘The highest proportion [of people raising no money] was reported by Cancer Research UK which also had the largest number of runners.  Of the 758 people who took its charity places, 318 (42%) raised nothing.’

That’s awful, really.  I know that I have been asked to raise a minimum of £2000 in order to run London next year.  If each of those 758 runners raised even half that amount, £758,000 would make such a huge difference for the charity.  The article goes on to say that although some runners just simply do not show for race day, often a large number of runners still go on to complete the event.

Not only do I want to raise at least £3000 as part of my fundraising, but I want to train for a time that I will personally feel proud of achieving.

I want to aim for at least a sub 4:30 marathon.

This would mean taking more than 20 minutes off from my current marathon PB (4:54 – achieved at Chelmsford marathon in 2015, pre-Oscar).

Chelmsford marathon 2015I have never completed a full training cycle successfully.  I always get sidetracked by interesting ultras, or trail marathons or long runs with friends along the way.  This time though, I am determined to remain on task and focused, with no other races booked in until at least May 2019!  (Although I have two cross country races within the next couple of weeks, but both under 6miles in distance).  I even successfully resisted entering the Country to Capital 45m and the brand new Rose of the Shires 50m ultra in April – agreeing instead, to marshal at both events.

I’ve read a lot about the Hanson’s Marathon Method over the past few years and noticed the difference to my times and endurance as I began to adopt some of the key principles of the plan into my training week.

Hansons Marathon Method bookI had particular success following the tempo sessions.  They allowed me to have belief in my ability to run continuously at a tempo pace over longer distances.

The speedwork sessions were also so useful, as I am unable to attend speedwork sessions on a running club night (Dan doesn’t return home from work in time for me to get there) and I never really know how to structure the sessions myself.

Running 5-6 days a week does really work for me and I definitely notice the gains to be had from more frequent running.  Having organised set workouts on a plan encourages me to get out and run on those days.

My main concern with the plan that my rest day has to fall on a Monday.  (I work through the night on a Sunday until 6am Monday morning.  I then only get a maximum of an hour of sleep before Dan leaves for work and I have Oscar on my own until Dan returns at 9pm.  By that point I’m absolutely exhausted having had just one hour of sleep from the previous night and it would be an impossible ask to head out for a run on Dan’s return.)  This then means that I can’t really be very flexible if something crops up later in the week where I would normally be able to swap my rest day around.

I’ve written out the plan in full as written in the book, but there will be tweaks on the days I run.  Mainly Monday and Wednesday runs will be swapped (as mentioned above) and Friday and Sunday runs (as Sunday has become our family day at home and I work Sunday evenings).

Hanson's Marathon Method plan

So, first run on the plan starts tomorrow (although the first week is filled with easy runs)…wish me luck!

Which training plans do you use for your marathons?
How many times per week do you prefer to run?

The London Marathon ballot reveal

This week the ballot results for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon (VMLM) have been announced.  Unlucky ballot entrants receive either a rejection magazine…

London Marathon rejection magazine 2018(Here’s mine from last year)

…or a rejection email.  (Becoming more and more likely with the higher numbers of hopeful people applying for a place each year.)

Personally, I received my eighth marathon rejection earlier today, which wasn’t too much of a shock.  Apparently 414,168 people applied for the ballot this year.  The race only has approximately 35,000ish finishers, and that includes elites, championship/GFA entries and those running for charity.  That’s a whole lot of people that are going to end up disappointed this week!

Whilst I know so, so many people will have been disappointed over the past couple of days when they received their rejection message, it is rather frustrating to see many turn to social media to complain about the ballot being an unfair system.

In fact, surely the opposite is true?

Everybody that enters for a place in the London Marathon through the public ballot has an equal shot at being selected for one of the places on offer.

Yeah it might be rather sucky that this is your ninth rejection (No more than nine rejections are possible!), but it’s also probably pretty sucky that you haven’t won the lottery in the past nine years either!

If you don’t win the lottery but are still desperate to become a millionaire, then there is the option to go out and work hard to make it happen.  The same applies when it comes to wanting to run the London Marathon.  If you are desperate to run the event, there are other ways to gain a place.

Applying for a charity place

London Marathon is known for the hoards of charity runners who line the street on race day.  In fact, the official VMLM website states that accounting for everything that was fundraised using their online Virgin Money Giving system for the 2018 race, £24,593,020.00 has been raised to date!
Often, charity places open for applications not long after the main ballot opens.  Some of the more well known charities will not be able to guarantee you a place though and will be asking questions such as how much money you are hoping to raise for them and reasons why you want to run for their charity.  If you are not too choosy about the charity you want to run for though, you will usually still be able to secure a charity marathon place a couple of months out from race day.
Charities tend to ask that you raise a minimum of £1500, with most asking for £2000 or more.  Although this can sound like a lot of money, the charity themselves has to fork out £300 for your entry and as long as you begin fundraising early on and don’t leave it all to the last minute raising the money is probably more of an achievable target than you initially thought.  In fact, if by now, you already know that you are running for a charity, you still have a good couple of months before the main bulk of marathon training needs to begin and you should be able to hopefully put most of your focus into fundraising, and then later on into the training, rather than having to try and juggle everything all at once in the weeks leading up to race day.

Good For Age (GFA)/Championship qualified

The Good For Age requirements have changed from the 2019 race, which you can read about in my blog post here.  If you have run a time deemed as ‘good’ for your age at a previous marathon event as listed by the team at VMLM then you will be offered a place in the race the following year.  Although this used to be a guaranteed way to gain entry to the marathon, this is no longer the case.  There are now a maximum of 3,000 female GFA spots and 3,000 male GFA spots available for the 2019 event.  If more than 6,000 runners applied for a GFA position, then ‘the qualifying time will be reduced evenly across the age group categories listed above until 3,000 runners of that gender are accepted’.  Meaning that you may have worked super hard to achieve a 3:44 qualifying marathon time as a senior female runner, only for the goalposts to be moved after you have submitted your entry, due to high numbers of other runners also applying for a place and you may not actually end up with a race place at all.
It’s too late to enter the 2019 event using this method as places needed to be applied for at the start of the Summer, but it could be something to work towards ready for the 2020 race.  For many people though, it may be necessary to put a lot more time, hard work and dedication into their training in order to achieve the stated times.

Club places

All England Athletic clubs offer a number of VMLM places to their members (dependent upon the size of the club.  The majority of clubs then host their own ballot to determine who runs to represent their club at the marathon the following April.  Clubs may have their own prerequisites when it comes to entering.  For example, to enter the VMLM club ballot for one of two places as held by my running club you have to provide your rejection email/magazine from the main ballot.  You can then gain further entries into the club ballot if you marshaled the club race that Summer or ran a certain number of club-targeted races throughout the year.  I have only run the London marathon once before, in 2014 and this was the way in which I gained my place.

Competitions

This option requires the least work but the most luck!  There are always lots of competitions offering marathon places in the weeks and months following the ballot results.  Keep an eye on the official London Marathon social media accounts and also any of their official sponsors, as they often post about last minute marathon places up for grabs!

VLM marathon number collection

It hasn’t been very nice to read some nasty comments today on social media about runners who ‘shouldn’t get a place’ as they’ve already run the race or ‘aren’t fast enough to be classed as a runner’.  I’ve seen lots of comments about people criticising current non-runners for entering the ballot and then gaining a place, even though once upon a time they themselves would have been non-runners and potentially in the same situation.  Everybody who enters the ballot knows how incredibly slim the chances of getting a place are.  Don’t make others scared to announce their good fortune because of your jealousy!

London Marathon is what it is.  It’s an incredibly iconic and well supported event, but it’s not a fast course due to the sheer volume of runners out there and it can actually be rather stressful feeling so boxed in along many areas of the course.  I’ve run the race before and I did really enjoy it, but there are so many fantastic other marathons to try out as well!

I wanted to raise money for Cancer Research this year following the death of my Mum , Aunts, Godmother and cousins of my Dad.  We’ve had a lot of cancer related death in our family since the end of last November and I want to help work towards preventing cancer in the future, albeit in a very small way through raising much needed funds.  I applied for a London Marathon place through Cancer Research several months ago now and after initially hearing that I hadn’t been successful, I received an email a fortnight ago offering me a place.

I’m really excited to say that I will be running at London in 2019 and more importantly, raising money for a cause that means a lot to me and my family right now.  I’m really looking forward to being part of the Cancer Research team on the day and in the build up to the day.  There are a couple of large events which I have in mind to hopefully make up the bulk of my fundraising.  (I’m hoping to raise a minimum of £3000) and I’ll share them on the blog when I have more details.

Good luck to all runners preparing for the 2019 event, first timers and 6-time-lucky-ballot-enterers alike!

Do you have a place for London 2019?  Did you enter the ballot this year?
Have you run the race before?
Any successful fundraising suggestions you can share with me?