In May 2016 I applied in the ballot for a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017. It was the second time I’d applied having failed to get a place the year before for the 2016 race. It was a record year for applications with 253,930 UK runners entering the ballot. That meant my chance of getting a place was perhaps around 1 in 8.
I was therefore not unduly surprised to receive the rejection email on 13th October that year. Social media sites were buzzing with runners sharing their stories of disappointment, and a few celebrating their success.
Another chance to enter
Unlike most ballot entrants, I had another opportunity to secure a place. Running clubs that are affiliated to the national governing body are allocated a certain number of places for their members. My club, Holme Pierrepont Running Club, is affiliated to England Athletics and was able to claim three places for its members. Club tradition is that at our pre-Christmas social event, members can bring their London Marathon rejection letters and put them in the hat to win one of the places. This is how, on the 15th December, I found myself with a London Marathon place after all, along with two other members Pete and Vicky.
London Marathon – 3 reasons to fundraise
The London Marathon is an iconic sporting event, and thanks to its 37 year history and the BBC TV coverage it’s probably the best-known race in the UK, only rivalled by the Great North Run half marathon.
The London Marathon is also a huge fundraising event. Runners raised £59.4 million last year and the organisers estimate that over 75% of participants are raising money for good causes.
Running London feels like a once-in-a-lifetime event for me. After having to abandon marathon training last Spring, and then run/walking the Yorkshire Marathon in October, I feel uncertain if I will attempt another marathon after London.
Because it’s a world-famous event, because it’s a huge fundraiser, and because I may never do it again – these are my 3 reasons for fundraising.
Women in Sport
I’ve chosen to raise funds for the charity Women in Sport because of the work they do to encourage more women and girls to play sport and keep fit. A lot of their work is around changing attitudes to women’s involvement in sport. In the UK, 1.5 million fewer women than men take regular physical activity. Women’s sport gets very little media coverage and almost no commercial sponsorship. To change attitudes, women need to be involved in sport not just as participants, but as coaches, leaders and board members.
Women in Sport carry out research, campaign for more women to be in sports leadership and coaching roles, run public awareness campaigns, and run programmes to help women and girls get into sport.
I care about this because, in the past 6 years, I’ve seen for myself how running can transform how women think about
themselves and their bodies. They start to see their bodies as strong and powerful, and gain so much from the sense of community that comes with being part of a sport. I want women to be able to stay active throughout their adult lives, and not be limited by social stereotypes of older women.
This race is nearly 4 times bigger than the biggest race I’ve taken part in, and everyone tells me the support from the spectators is amazing. Having watched the London Marathon so many times on television I can’t quite believe that I am going to be running it, that I will be one of the tens of thousands of people running down the Mall to the finish. I feel lucky to have this place and, whatever my fitness concerns, I will be at the start line on Sunday 23rd April.
Wish me luck!
And if you would like to sponsor me via my fundraising page I would be very grateful.