A few people have asked me why I didn’t apply for one of the many charity places in the London Marathon when I was rejected from the public ballot and this has become the subject of several arguments so I thought I would just write it down and be done with it…
Firstly, let me say that I fully support the whole idea of running for charity – that should hopefully be obvious! However, what I do not agree with is misrepresenting my own support, which I personally believe I would be doing had I chosen to go down the "charity place" route. Why? – well let me try to explain:
Let’s say I choose to run for, I dunno, the Samaritans. I will be asked to raise a minimum of £1500 or thereabouts, which seems to be the norm for these "golden" places. However, the Samaritans will have had to pay around £500 (or more) for that guaranteed place which will effectively have to come out of the money I will then be raising. Hence, if I am asking people to donate to this specific charity then I should, in all fairness, be telling them that around 30p in every £1 they give is going to paying the race organiser and not the nominated charity. Now I appreciate that the London Marathon gives a lot of the fees away to good causes themselves, which is all well and good, but if I am supporting a specific charity then that’s where the money from my sponsors should be going in my opinion.
At the end of the day, this essentially comes down to whether you are running to support charities, or supporting charities because you are running. In either case though, I would always prefer to enter a race on my own terms and be confident that all of the funds that I raise go towards my nominated good causes. This isn’t a criticism of London specifically, I think it’s the same across all of the big prestige races. In some ways I think they are being devalued as races as a result and becoming principally a fundraising event for all except the elite runners, who effectively run a separate race anyway.
I’m more than happy for people to "put me straight" on this, but until I’m convinced otherwise I’ll not be running London (or any similar event that operates a "golden ticket" policy) on anything other than a standard entry.