For many runners, participating in the London Marathon is a dream come true. The excitement of running through the historic streets of London, cheered on by thousands of spectators, is an unparalleled experience. However, with a record number of 840,318 applying for the 20,000 spaces in the London Marathon 2025, not everyone was fortunate to secure a place through the ballot. If you found out on Wednesday that you didn’t make the cut, it’s natural to feel disappointed. But don’t let this setback dampen your spirits. There are numerous other opportunities to challenge yourself and achieve your running goals.

Let’s take a look at some other ways of obtaining a spot plus some great alternatives.

Charity Places

One of the most popular ways to gain entry into the London Marathon is through a charity place. Many charitable organisations offer guaranteed spots in exchange for a fundraising commitment. This option not only allows you to participate in the marathon but also supports a worthy cause. For example, Cancer Research UK is one such charity that offers places in the London Marathon. To secure a spot, you usually need to pledge to raise a certain amount of money. For Cancer Research UK, this amount is often around £2,500. This might seem daunting, but many runners find the fundraising process to be incredibly rewarding and motivating. You can learn more about charity places and apply directly through their website: Cancer Research UK – London Marathon.

Run for Time

If you’re determined to run the London Marathon in the future, one strategy is to focus on improving your marathon time to qualify for a “Good For Age” entry. This category allows runners who meet specific time criteria to gain entry into the marathon. Training with a focus on speed and efficiency can help you achieve the necessary times. Participating in smaller, local marathons or half marathons to improve your time can be a productive and rewarding way to work towards your goal. You can find the qualifying times and more details on the LTCS London Marathon website.

TCS London Marathon MyWay

For those who prefer a more flexible approach, the TCS London Marathon MyWay is an excellent alternative. This initiative allows you to complete the marathon distance in your own way, whether by running, walking, or a combination of both, over a 24-hour period on the day of the main event. Participants receive an official medal and T-shirt, making it a great way to be part of the London Marathon experience without the pressure of the main race. This option is perfect for those with busy schedules or who prefer a more relaxed marathon experience. More information can be found on the TCS London Marathon Good for Age Entry Page.

Other Major Marathons

If you’re open to travelling, consider applying for one of the other World Marathon Majors; Berlin, Chicago, New York, Boston, and Tokyo marathons. Each of these races offers a unique experience and the chance to run alongside some of the world’s best athletes. These marathons are considered the most prestigious in the world of long-distance running. If you’re really ambitious you could complete all six; a significant achievement known as “Six Star Finisher” status. Though securing a spot in these races can be competitive, many offer charity entry options similar to the London Marathon. More information can be found on their respective websites:

    1. Berlin Marathon Website:
    2. Chicago Marathon Website:
    3. New York City Marathon Website:
    4. Boston Marathon Website:
    5. Tokyo Marathon Website:

Other UK Marathons

If staying in the UK is preferable, there are several excellent marathons that might pique your interest. I loved the tremendous atmosphere when I completed The Manchester Marathon in 2022. It offers a flat course, making it a good option for those aiming for a fast time. The Brighton Marathon is known for its scenic coastal route and like Manchester, enthusiastic crowd support. The Edinburgh Marathon, with its picturesque setting and cooler climate, is a favourite among many runners plus it’s flat. These races often have more available spots than the London Marathon and still provide a highly enjoyable and challenging marathon experience. You can find more details on their official sites:

Overseas Marathons

For those who love to travel and run, overseas marathons offer an exciting opportunity to combine both passions. The Rome Marathon, with its route through ancient landmarks, is perfect for history enthusiasts. The Paris Marathon takes you past the Eiffel Tower and along the River Seine, providing a stunning backdrop for your run. The Amsterdam Marathon, known for its flat course and beautiful scenery, is another excellent choice. These international events often have a less competitive entry process compared to major world marathons, making it easier to secure a spot. For more information, visit their websites:

Half Marathons

If a full marathon feels a bit daunting or if you’re looking to build up to the full distance, half marathons are a great stepping stone. There are plenty throughout the UK and Europe including The Great North Run, the world’s largest half marathon, which offers a fantastic atmosphere and scenic route. The Royal Parks Half Marathon in London is another beautiful event, taking you through some of the capital’s most famous parks. My local race, The Cardiff Half Marathon sells out quickly but has an amazing atmophere. It starts and finishes in Cardiff’s city centre, passing several iconic landmarks including Cardiff Castle, the Principality Stadium, and Cardiff Bay. I’ve really enjoyed taking part 3 times and this year will be running for Age Connects Cardiff & The Vale. Cardiff Half Marathon is part of the SuperHalfs series – a circuit of six half marathons across Europe: Lisbon, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen, Cardiff, and Valencia. You can complete these races in any order, but if you finish all six within a 5 year period (starting from your first race) you receive a SuperMedal at the finish line of your last race. For more information, visit:

    1. AJ Bell Great North Run:
    2. Royal Parks Half Marathon:
    3. EDP Lisbon Half Marathon:
    4. Prague Half Marathon:
    5. Generalis Berlin Half Marathon:
    6. Copenhagen:
    7. Cardiff:
    8. Valencia:
    9. SuperHalfs:

Trail Marathons

If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, trail marathons could be the answer. These off-road events often take you through beautiful natural landscapes, offering a unique and often more demanding experience. The Lakeland Trails Marathon in the Lake District, for example, provides breathtaking views and a tough yet rewarding course. The Snowdonia Marathon is another popular choice, known for its rugged terrain and stunning vistas. Trail marathons require a different set of skills and training but can be incredibly satisfying for those who enjoy nature and adventure. For more information, check out: Lakeland Trails and Snowdonia Marathon.


Missing out on a place in the London Marathon can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember that there are plenty of other opportunities to pursue your running dreams. As you can see from the information above, there are many ways to stay motivated and continue challenging yourself. Explore these alternatives, set new goals, and keep running!

For more advice on planning for your next race and all aspect of running, check out our AI Running Coach which is one of the benefits available to Run Racer Run members. You can join our friendly group today for just £7.99 per month.


Copyright © 2024 Jonathan Pollinger | Run Racer Run

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