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How to enter  (race date 21 April 2024)

It's not easy to get into the London Marathon. Actually, this race is among the most difficult to land a bib. Every year more than 300,000 runners apply for the ballot. Roughly 50,000 numbers are provided - about 25,000 via the UK ballot, another 20,000 via charities and the remaining 5,000 for overseas runners, qualified runners, sponsors etc.

1. The National Ballot for UK Residents only

Online ballot entry 2024 is open from Apr 22, 2023.

Successful applicants will be notified in early January. Entry fee is 69.99. If you are not lucky enough to be a British resident, maybe you know a helpful hand to provide address and bank account.

Note: There is a separate Online Ballot Entry for overseas runners (see below No. 7).


2. Charities - how most Brits run the race

In Great Britain all kinds of charities are very popular. This way of helping each other is tradition grown over centuries. Maybe the somewhat restricted social system has contributed to this, too. There is an unbelievable vast number of different charity organisations and countless helpful people work for them for free. All over the country, especially on market days, friendly collectors are part of the main streets in British town centers.

More than half of all the British marathon participants run in aid for one of the charities. Many of them got even their number from their charity. The charities buy these "golden bond places". It is reported that they pay up to 250 Pound (!) for one start. No wonder they expect their participants to collect quite an amount of money. An aid runner has to contribute at least 1000 Pound and more. Collecting a record sum a runner can even win a journey to one of the big marathons overseas. Most of the charities care for their runners during race day on the route, at the finish and have a party in the evening.

Of course, for Runners from abroad this way of entering depends on how established the chosen charity is in their home country.

The charity tradition is the main reason for what makes the London Marathon really special. Almost the whole event is sort of a carnival. Lots of participants are not very well trained for a race of this kind of distance. They just want to finish it and contribute to their charity. Lots of runners wear colourful and sometimes heavy costumes, often really special ones. However - don't wonder being overtaken by a lion, a batman or one of the many Elvises. 

Charitiy listing

3. Good For Age - Guaranteed starts for fast runners - UK residents only

Entry 2024 closes Friday 05/10/23 (estimated).

The number of Good for Age entries is capped at a total of 6,000 places which will be split evenly with 3,000 entries for women and 3,000 entries for men.

Qualifying Times:





< 3:00

< 3:45


< 3:05

< 3:50


< 3:10

< 3:53


< 3:15

< 4:00


< 3:20

< 4:05


< 3:45

< 4:30


< 4:00

< 5:00


< 5:00

< 6:00


< 5:15

< 6:20


< 5:30

< 6:40


< 6:10

< 7:10

more information at official website

4. Club entries

UK Athletic Clubs get numbers according to their numbers of members. 
Look at Serpentine Running Club to see an example how they distribute them.

See official website for more information.

5. British Championship Entries

If you are a member of an UK Athletics club and you've achieved a championship qualifying performance for a marathon in 2017 or 2018, you can apply for a championship entry place in the 2021 Virgin London Marathon.





Full marathon

sub 2.45

Full marathon

sub 3.15

Half marathon

sub 1.15

Half marathon

sub 1.30






See official website for more information.


6. Via Travel Agency for overseas runners

This is the most successful and easiest way for runners who don't reside in Britain getting to the start line - and the most expensive. Only via booking at a travel agency your start is guaranteed. You will have to book transport and accommodation with it (certainly you would prefer to organise this on your own but that's the price for it).

Be aware that annually the marathon organisers increase the agency price for the number significantly. In 2019 German travel agencies charged at least 450 Euros, which equals around 500 US$. See the list of Travel Agencies.

7. The Overseas Ballot Entry

Online Ballot Entry 2024 is open from Apr 22, 2023 to Apr 28, 2023.

The London Marathon only accepts payments via credit card (Master, Visa). The entry fee is  146. You are going to get the lottery's result in early februar. If you want to be sure don't wait too long with your booking via a travel agency.

Online Ballot Entry for overseas runners

8. Final Chance

Maybe the company you work for is a sponsor of the marathon. Or your company is a client of one of the sponsoring companies. Sponsors get guaranteed places to use as an incentive.

Official sponsors

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