Disappointed (part 2) – The London Marathon organisers


It’s the point and laugh blog.

Point and laugh at me.

Point and laugh at the idiots like me.

The ones who trained for months to try and beat a target. The ones who having had marathon disasters in the past had put their faith in plans to do a specific time. One that would have them regarded as good for their age. Out running in -10 degree conditions. 20 mile runs in the snow. Through three Beasts from the East and through personal and family crises. Ones who fought through the pain and cramp barriers on race day, recalculating their average paces to beat that one barrier. The ones who came down that last straight of their marathon, arms in the air, delighted, emotional for their family’s support. Paying extortionate prices for race photos to see the delight. Writing a gushing blog. Flooding social media. Celebrating.

For once actually feeling good about themselves.

The delight of beating that target by 3 1/2 minutes. To be able to tell their friends and family. I AM good for age! 3 months of training worth it. Set my specific plan and done it. I’m not shit!


Point and laugh at them.

Point and laugh at me.

Because that is EXACTLY what the organisers of the London marathon have done today.

You may not have heard but the Good for Age qualifications were changed today. My previous GFA was 3.15, I ran 3.11, it is now 3.10. The age group below me has gone from 3.15 to 3.05, amazing runs by my pals Dougie and Ian disregarded now. I understand the need for continual review and for change. I understand that sometimes goalposts have to move. But to do it less than a week before this year’s event. To do it AFTER marathons that people use for qualification – Manchester, Brighton, Paris etc. To do that is an absolute disgrace and a big two fingers up to those that have worked hard. Announce it after the previous year’s marathon, even on 1st January but give people a chance to try and prepare accordingly. But there is NO thought given to the punters.

As long as TOWIE have their places.

As long as you can fleece charities for the bond places.

As long as you can get more and more people in the ballot thinking that paying for merchandise in advance gives them a better chance of an entry.

As long as you can align with no notice to a money making corporate global program.

You can point and laugh at us because you no longer understand runners, you no longer understand people. Be ashamed London, more than ever you stand merely as a money making business, not as the people’s race. You point and laugh and no longer understand. I am no longer good for my age. I was for a week. Where I had pride I now have complete and utter embarrassment. Many people WILL now be pointing and laughing at me and many people like me.

But you won’t understand that will you?

Stick a pair of trainers on and try running again and remember the roots, because you have lost touch with reality.

As the great Glasgow philosopher once said, I hope that each and every one of you involved in this decision has a big hedgehog as their next jobbie. That would let me point and laugh.


16 thoughts on “Disappointed (part 2) – The London Marathon organisers

  1. Heartfelt post Mark and totally understand your disappointment after all the months of hard work and executing you plan really well last week.
    I may just be naive and gullible, but I believe these changes aren’t to do with money but a simple response to the huge popularity of running and the increasing numbers of Runners who are able to meet the previous GFA times.

    London remains one of the cheapest marathons anywhere to enter. They also reserve hundreds of places for Club Runners completely separate from the GFA scheme. The profits from the race keep the entry fee low and are ploughed back into good causes. London Marathon was set up by runners, primarily for runners and I don’t think the small number of celebrity Runners changes that, it’s just incredibly popular and the race simply cannot accommodate any more Runners than it does at the moment.

    As for announcement timing, I don’t believe the 2019 times were published before today, so anyone basing training on this year’s GFA time’s was making an assumption that they wouldn’t change for next year. And you know what they say about assumptions…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliantly written.

    Unfortunately I am not “good for age”, but whole heartedly agree with your thoughts.




    Stewart Burns
    [cid:image004.png@01D3D635.6AF8D720][cid:image005.png@01D1D204.C118B8A0]31 Cairns St Kangaroo Point Q 4169
    [cid:image004.png@01D1D204.C118B8A0]GPO Box 503, Brisbane QLD 4001
    D (07) 3914 5412 | F (07) 3914 5444 | M 0455 501 322

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very good article, pretty much summarising how I feel as well! I too did all the training for months and stood on the start line on Sunday 8th April thinking that 1 second under 3:15 was the target.

    I managed 3:10.31 so was pretty much elated to have achieved my goal by a good margin. One week on I’m now 32 seconds shy of my goal.

    Totally gutted!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think you are being hard on the organisers here.

    Of all the big marathons, London is incredibly good value and offers a fantastic experience for runners. I was just in Paris supporting the marathon there, and there is really no comparison.

    If it was truly all about maximising revenue the organisers could easily double the price and still be sure of filling the spots.

    Each year the GFA thresholds for different marathons are announced. Sometimes they change. In this case, London organisers have made sure that runners in this year’s race know how next year’s GFA will be. Can’t really fault them for that. And it was clear, I think, that relative male/ female GFAs needs tweaking to be proportionate…


    • I think given that the time window for the performance is from last year to August of this year then there could have been more notice of the times required. This is my major bugbear. Even giving the times in January I would be ok with. But people are following plans to achieve certain goals with are now defunct. Or have ran their “qualifying” race already. It’s hard on them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Telling London Marathon competitors 6 days before the event isn’t right though is it? Anyone serious about GFA would have followed a 12-16 week plan that was tailored to hitting a specific time. They would have a pacing strategy ready. Should they be changing this 6 days out? I don’t think anyone would recommend that they do.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this article Mark. You’ve verbalised all the bitter and angry feelings I’ve had too having run an 11 minute PB to get what’s a I thought was a GFA time of 3:01:41 at Manchester…I don’t know about you but I’m considering Liverpool marathon in a couple of months to smash the 3 hour mark…but part of me also thinks, why bother? Do I want to qualify for yet another ballot for an organisation I don’t feel is sensitive to the efforts runners have been putting in? Maybe I’ll just look elsewhere instead. Boston in the US for example!

    London DOESN’T change the qualifying times every year and a previous poster talked about assumption. With no other information to go on prior to training, what would any other informed person do?! I’ve blogged about my own Manchester experience (timsrunningworld.com if you fancy a read) and I’m just glad I had a week of believing I was good enough…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Superb blog Mark (not just this particular one). I really feel for you, and completely agree with your sentiments. Amongst all the nonsense regarding parity and equality, how can it be fair for a 64 year old male to be expected to achieve the same time as an 18 year old female? It’s ridiculous. Qualifications do evolve, but they should be announced well in advance, at the beginning of the season.

    I paced both Manchester and Brighton marathons, and so many of my group worked so hard, fought through the pain, cramp, mind playing tricks to get what they believed was their GFA. The elation when they crossed the line. Already planning their London trip next year. To have it cruelly taken away 24 hours later.

    As you eluded to, this has been a particularly sh*tty year weather wise. The last 12-16 weeks have been nigh on impossible for the most ardent, dedicated runner to stick to plan. There will have been many boring treadmill runs, and treacherous miles in rain, ice, wind and snow to get marathon ready. Nobody getting close to GFA time has just turned up.

    Lastly, for those saying London is not a corporate exercise, they sell 60,000 bibs, less than 40,000 make the start line. There isn’t a 33% drop out rate in Berlin, Boston, Manchester or anywhere else. That’s why they can afford to drop the price. They also con hundreds of thousands of people into paying for a spot in a race they won’t get in to (a very small ‘uncheck this box if you don’t want to donate you fee even if you don’t get in’). It’s ok for that to be the business model, just don’t market yourself as a marathon major, and be a full blown charity run. Rant over, but your time is still your time. It qualifies you for Boston, Chicago and elite start at Brighton. Hope you’re recovering well, and don’t let this setback dampen your enthusiasm.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: On Track/ On your own – the GAA BMC 10,000m 2018 | markgallmac

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s