The pic is related, trust me


There is no going back now…….unless I break a leg, have a heart attack, run myself over repeatedly with my car or become allergic to Americans.

Yep, this is it, I’ve booked my race entry for the New York Marathon 2009. I was planning on running for a designated charity but that didn’t quite work out…

If you want to take part in the New York Marathon (and this is true for many others) you have a few choices…

  • You can buy a place through a company. There seem to be two main companies – 2:09 Events and Sports Tours International. They both offer either “Race Ticket + Flight” or “Race Ticket + Flight + Hotel” options. And don’t expect either of these to be cheap. This option is good if you want to organise your own hotel and don’t want the pressure of having to raise a lot of money for a charity. I paid £949 for my place including flights. As of today BA flights to New York on the marathon dates are approx £400 so I’ve paid £549 for my marathon place. i.e. I’ll be paying around 20quid for every single horrible mile.
  • You can get a guaranteed place with a charity. Just google for “new york marathon charity places” and you’ll see a huge list of charities that have purchased race entries. Some charities make you raise a minimum amount then give you a marathon place, some make you raise money then buy one of their flight or flight+hotel packages. If you don’t raise the minimum amount then they “may” try to block you from getting tickets to a marathon again (and of course you’ll go to hell). If you know you’re going to be able to raise a lot of money then this route can be quite attractive as sometimes they subsidise the cost of the flight or the hotel… but in my experience this isn’t by much! When I was looking recently, a charity place typically had a minimum charity pledge of £1600-£1800. If there were charity places available for “Stroke the Squirrel” then I’d be prepared to dress up in that squirrel outfit at work to raise money… but bad luck for you there aren’t any. How much would you pledge to see that by the way?
  • If you have run lots of races before you can get a guaranteed place if you can prove your times are very fast. And I mean *very fast*.
  • You can enter the ticket lottery. I don’t know what the odds are for this but I imagine they’re pretty poor. For New York if you don’t get a ticket from the lottery three years in a row then you get in automatically.

If you choose a company or a charity you usually get pretty good support, like buses to the marathon start, practice runs, meet ups, parties before and after the race etc.

I was going to run for Macmillan cancer care as they initially thought they’d have a “ticket only” option. But now they’ve been told they have to have ticket+flight at the minimum then I can’t really afford the minimum of £2300 I’d have to get together (£1600 pledge + £700 travel+ticket deposit). I will of course still raise money for them as they were extremely helpful with my many questions.

So, basically if you absolutely must get a place in a specific marathon then be prepared to wait or pay. Of course there are much cheaper marathons available around the world… I’ll be in New York with probably every supermodel from Victoria Secret cheering me on while you could be enjoying 26.2miles in downtown Baghdad.

By the way, I thought you’d want to know, whenever I write “marathon” my fingers actually write “marathong”. So if in the process of reading my blog you find that word… then I apologise in advance.

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