London Marathon GFA

Make your Dream of Qualifying for the London Marathon a Reality

Qualifying for the London Marathon via the Good For Age (GFA) process is one of the pinnacles of running achievements for many runners in the UK.

This article is designed to give you some background on the process and provide you with some useful training advice to help you sail under your qualifying time.

First of all I wanted to give you a quick guide along with links to the various methods of applying for a place in one of the Worlds greatest marathons.

The public ballot entry system for the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon is now closed but this should provide you with reference for future years, however please check the official London Marathon website as entry criteria’s are subject to change.

The ballot is normally open for five days to give everyone who wanted to enter the event a fair chance to do so which is always well advertised across social media. The 2017 ballot for the 2018 marathon closed on Friday 5th May FYI.

The following information is via the London Marathon.


Overseas ballot entry for the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon is now closed. The ballot was open for five days and closed at 17:00 on Friday 5 May 2017.

Please contact one of our approved Tour Operators for more information.

To find out more about entering the race through one of the other categories below, please follow the relevant link.


Find out which charities have guaranteed places through our Golden Bond, Silver Bond and Charity Ballot listings and read more about how to run for charity.


If you’ve already run a full marathon in a particularly fast time, you might qualify for an automatic ‘Good For Age’ entry into the Virgin Money London Marathon.


Athletics clubs associated with British Athletics can apply for club entries into the Virgin Money London Marathon.


If you’re a member of an athletics club associated with British Athletics, and you’ve recently achieved a championship-qualifying performance for a marathon, find out more about championship entry places in the Virgin Money London Marathon.


The 2018 Virgin Money London Wheelchair Marathon will be open to elite disabled athletes. Find out more about the race and how to apply for a Virgin Money London Wheelchair Marathon place. Entries for the 2018 race will open in due course.


Runners with a visual impairment who have been successful in the ballot will have the option of running with a guide.

For more information, please contact

DEFERRED ENTRY (due to injury or illness)

If you secured a place in the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon but were unable to take part on the day because you were ill or injured, find out about deferred entry and what to do to run in 2018.


London Marathon GFA Qualifying Times

You will be eligible for a Good for Age entry into the London Marathon if you have run a full marathon in the same time, or faster than, the times listed below.

If you have achieved a Good for Age time as listed in the table below, you do not need to enter the London Marathon via the public ballot entry system.



(in hours)



(in hours)

Age 18-40 sub 3:05 Age 18-40 sub 3:45
Age 41-49 sub 3:15 Age 41-49 sub 3:50
Age 50-59 sub 3:20 Age 50-59 sub 4:00
Age 60-64 sub 3:45 Age 60-64 sub 4:30
Age 65-69 sub 4:00 Age 65-69 sub 5:00
Age 70-75 sub 5:00 Age 70-75 sub 6:00
76+ sub 5:30 76+ sub 6:30

 Please note: Qualifying times are reviewed yearly and may change for the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.

 When applying for your GFA you will require the following information:

  • Proof of performance – this can be a link to the results webpage or a file (jpg, PDF) which clearly displays the name, date and qualifying time of the event.
  • Proof of age – This can either be a copy of your passport, driving license or birth certificate.
  • Proof of UK residence – This must be an official document proving your residence in the UK, such as a recent utility bill (within the last three months) or driving license.

Please note unlike other marathon’s around the world, any official timed marathon, which is 26.2 miles in length is eligible for a GFA entry.

Training to Qualify for the London Marathon

Now that you know the times you need to hit to qualify and you’ve selected the perfect race to achieve your GFA, it’s time for the training to begin.

Explore the site for training advice and words of wisdom to help you train smarter and more efficiently.

I believe that a runner should concentrate on no more than two marathons per year to get the most out of yourself and respect the recovery between marathons. It is possible to train for more than two but I would personally advise against it, but appreciate some runners have charity and sponsorship commitments to consider.

A marathon should be treated with the respect it deserves and should not be treated lightheartedly, remember fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Providing you are going into a marathon programme already fit and healthy I feel a 12-14-week block is adequate. Some people prefer more, which is fine and we can adjust and monitor programmes to suit here at JM Coaching, however it’s my opinion that often athletes peak too early this meaning they are ready to hit the marathon two or three weeks before the actual race and by the time the marathon comes around the runner is actually over trained.

To limit over training and ensuring the athlete is suitably prepared I like to split marathon build up into four phases:

Phase 1: Base

Slow paced continuous runs up to 90mins


Progression runs

Phase 2: Transition

Race specific sessions


Tempo Runs

Phase 3: Race specific work

Race specific work

Tempo Runs

Phase 4: Taper

Target pace work

Easy Running

Key Marathon Sessions:

The following sessions are key indications of marathon performance and should be incorporated into your marathon plan.

  • 3/4x 5000m at 102% of marathon pace with 1km recovery steady state
  • 20km – Alternating 1km @ race pace, 1km at steady pace
  • 5x3km, 5x2km, 5x1km
  • 5km, 4km, 3km, 2km, 1km
  • 3x3miles
  • 5/10×1-mile
  • 10/15x1km

As well as the above marathon pace specific workouts I would implement 5 and 10km training sessions into your programme to ensure you are keeping in touch with the speed work. Thus allowing you to run marathon pace much easier during the race.

Top Tips:

  • Every run should have a purpose
  • Enjoy your easy days, they are just as important as your hard days
  • Recovery is a vital part of training and allows your body to adapt to the training
  • Train SMART – Your best coach is yourself, you can feel how tired you are but at the same time you need to ensure you are highly motivated to maintain a high work ethic. This means training smart to achive the best results. Not putting yourself into a hole every time you run and giving yourself enough time to recover and adapt to your training.
  • Cold & Flu – The best way to prevent getting ill is to suitably re-fuel following tough workouts. The formula I personally stick to is a high quality Whey Protein following a session or long run and chocolate milk following easy to moderate runs. I always try to get high carbohydrate foods in immediately after training, within the 20-min window.       Since I have been sticking to this I have dramatically cut down the number of colds I’ve picked up. Always remember to wash your hands regularly, eat a good healthy balanced diet and you won’t go far wrong.
  • Surfaces – Where possible mix up your running terrain and underfoot surfaces. Grass and trail running is important for lower leg strength and biomechanics. It’s also helpful for any athlete struggling with impact injuries. Road sessions are still important and you need to get your body used to the impact of running on the road, otherwise in the marathon you will fatigue quicker.

Fed up of winging it? Get in touch today to find out how a personalised training programme can help you take away the guessing work and get you finally tuned to run that marathon personal best! 

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