Last week the London Landmarks Half Marathon, which was only launched this year, announced that they would be introducing a balloted entry system for 2019’s race. The outpouring of frustration on social media ever since has got me thinking about the rise of balloted races.
I should start this post by admitting that the first time I entered the London Marathon ballot I got in. I can imagine all of you seething and unsubscribing as I type that sentence but it’s true. My ‘winning’ of this coveted spot in one of the world’s greatest races is the reason I am a runner today. I got the “you’re in” magazine the week I completed my first ever half marathon and learning that I was going to be able to race in London pushed me to keep training beyond that race and the whole process led to me fall in love with running. Once I had completed London, I was hooked and two and a bit years on I have run 14 marathons.
For those of you who are longterm runners, who use every swear word under the sun about not getting in despite entering countless times, I would argue that the spot I got was far more valuable to a first time runner who needed a push to keep running; rather then someone who was already a committed (in both meanings of the word) runner.
I have missed out on more than a few races through balloting though, and while I do get that it is very frustrating, I think that it speaks of the popularity of the sport and the community we are a part of. More runners means more future running buddies and post-race drinking mates. More runners means more competition; more people you can strive to overtake in those last few meters or someone to push you along when your energy is all but gone.
While it may not be good for your medal haul or bucket list, it is fantastic for the future of running. The very fact that the London Landmarks race has had to introduce a ballot in only its second year will of course result in more races being created with the hopes that they too can get a piece of the ever growing market. Who ever said running is a cheap sport clearly hasn’t paid for all the entry fees!
I recently spoke to a race director and asked him what he thought of more runners coming into the sport and he was of course pleased, saying it was pushing him to make his current races bigger, better and more appealing. In a competitive market he was having to think up new and exciting races.
The rise in runners means that not only are there more races, but more companies in and around running. More hydration, kit, care, you name it and there is a new running company popping up supplying it.
So when October rolls around and those London Marathon magazines start arriving, and you get the dreaded sorry copy, remember because you entered it means that our community is stronger, better supplied and more supported then ever before.
NEXT RACE: Maverick Long Run