How To Double* Your Chances Of Getting A London Marathon Place, And Potentially Save £20

Felicia Ofori-quaah (GBR) on The Mall as she approaches the finish line during The TCS London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2023
(Image credit: Ian Walton for London Marathon Events)

*According to event organizers

It’s not easy to get a place in the London Marathon. The London Marathon ballot is always heavily oversubscribed, and charity places in the race are always in high demand as well. Unless you’re speedy enough to nab a London Marathon Good For Age place, or even a Championship spot, there’s always going to be an element of luck involved.

One way you can tip the odds in your favor is by choosing to pay your entry fee up front when entering the 2024 ballot. You can enter the ballot without paying anything, then pay the £69.99 entry fee only if you’re successful, but there are several benefits to choosing to pay your fee up front.

The first is that the price of a place drops to £49.99 if you do get a place via the ballot, the same price as entry cost for the 2023 event. The second benefit is that if you miss out in the first ballot, you are entered into a second-chance ballot which allocates more places.

This “lucky loser” ballot has previously dished out another 2,000 spots, although the figures for the London Marathon 2024 are not yet confirmed. However, the organizers of the event have said that you can double your chances of getting a place by paying up front so you have a chance in both ballots.

We’re not sure that the math has been done here beyond "two ballots=double the chances", which isn’t really how probability works given your odds will depend on how many people are actually in each ballot. However, it’s certainly at least a better chance than only entering one ballot.

Even if you do strike out in both ballots, you don’t go away with nothing, because you’ll be sent a training top worth £60 to make you feel better. Also remember that the money you paid goes to the London Marathon Foundation charity, so that should make you feel good as well.

So we reckon it’s a no-brainer: Pay upfront and increase your chance of getting a London Marathon place while reducing the cost of that place. Worst-case scenario you get a nice bit of training kit and the warm fuzzy feeling created by donating money to charity. Wins all round.

If you live abroad you’ll need to enter the international ballot for the race, although there’s no option to increase your chances by paying upfront. International applicants who are successful in the ballot will need to pay £146 for a place, a price that includes  a £26 carbon offset levy.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.