April is London Marathon month! 'Hooray' for incredible stamina, tremendous determination, and wild fancy dress costumes. 'Booooo' for the fact that we do not have a charity place this year. And unless we are successful in a charity ballot, we won’t have one next year either, or the year after that.. 

To explain further, we used to be able to purchase one charity place every five years but this arrangement has ceased. After a reshuffle from London Marathon a couple of years ago, we no longer have any guarantee of a charity place in any future London Marathon race. 

What does this mean? Well, without wishing to appear all ‘sour grapes’ on the matter, it does present a frustrating position for Alopecia UK. Each year after the London Marathon, we receive multiple emails and calls from people, inspired by watching the event, wanting us to offer them a place in the next year’s event. It is BRILLIANT that people want to support Alopecia UK with the ultimate physical challenge but we hate having to give the disappointing news that we do not have any London Marathon places to give. We wish we did!

London Marathon is one of the most popular marathon events in the world. Those who have ever applied to the public ballot will know that the odds are very much against you getting a place. The 2024 London Marathon saw a record 578,374 people apply for a place in an event which has no more than 50,000 people at the start. 

We love the London Marathon. It’s such an inspirational event. We totally understand why people want to take part in it. But places are like proverbial gold dust. Some charities that have been around much longer than Alopecia UK are able to secure many guaranteed London Marathon places each year. We wish we could do the same (or even just get one place!), but we can’t. Is it a fair system? We don’t really think it is but that’s just the way it is, and we cannot change this. 

So, the answer to the question ‘Can I run for Alopecia UK in next year’s London Marathon?’ is ‘Probably not’. Unless you can secure a place in the public ballot, or obtain a place via a running club, it’s unlikely you will be able to run the London Marathon for Alopecia UK. Whilst the chances of getting a place in the public ballot are very slim, as the saying goes 'You've gotta be in it to win it'. If you're desperate to run the London Marathon, be sure to enter the ballot. Who knows, this could be your lucky year!

We will try our luck in the charity ballot, but we will only be able to apply for one place, and there is still a good chance we won’t get a place as we will be up against many other small charities who like us don't have any guaranteed places either.  

Our ask to anyone wanting to run the London Marathon for Alopecia UK is to please consider a different marathon event. Whether the 26.2 miles is run in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Belfast, Brighton, or Wales (to name just a few UK marathons), the distance, training and accomplishment are just the same. You will have run a marathon! An incredible endurance feat that not everyone is able to achieve. You may not be running with as many competitors, and it may not have quite the same energy of London with its c50,000 people at the start, but THE BRAGGING RIGHTS ARE THE SAME! A marathon is a marathon ðŸ˜Š

And there is another big benefit to choosing a different marathon event - cost. London Marathon charity places come at a not insignificant cost (approx. £400). This is why, when we have a charity place, we need to put in a minimum fundraising target to ensure our costs are covered and to maximise the rare fundraising opportunity of having a London Marathon place. 

If you secure your own place in a marathon, whether it be London or a different event, you don’t need to be bound by the pressure of any fundraising target. Whatever you manage to raise for Alopecia UK, however big or small, it will be hugely appreciated by a small charity that greatly needs your support. Obviously we encourage you to be ambitious with your fundraising targets, you are running 26.2 miles after all!.

We will, of course, do our best to support any fundraisers with help with setting up fundraising pages, offering t-shirts or running vests, and giving lots of encouragement. (Below is a pic of a team from Fieldfisher Run Club, a group of colleagues who are taking on the Vienna Marathon for Alopecia UK on the very same day as the 2024 London Marathon - thank you Team Fieldfisher!). 

In summary, if you are wanting to take on the challenge of the London Marathon to raise funds and awareness for Alopecia UK, be sure to enter the public ballot between Saturday 20th April 2024 and Friday 26th April 2024, and please, please, please consider doing a different marathon if you are unsuccessful in securing a place. 

And we also have Gayle who is using her own public ballot place to run this year's London Marathon for Alopecia UK. She has told us that fundraising is proving to be hard at the moment so if you are able to support Gayle's efforts with a little donation that would be incredible. Gayle's JustGiving page is here.

You can find dates and locations of other marathons here. Or if you a marathon is not your distance, you can find details of other challenge events here.

Thanks for your support!