Shortly after the London Marathon finished the organisers took down the Good For Age table on the website. From that moment it was clear there were going to be changes but what would they be and when would they come into play? There were various rumours circulating, but the truth was it was the day before the ballot opened and no one knew what the GFA standards were. This was poor, very poor.
The new GFA times were announced when the ballot opened. Unsurprisingly, for the most part, they were tougher. This directly affected me, my 3.49.14 Paris time no longer gave me an automatic place in 2014, I now needed a sub 3.45. This, however, is still relatively easy in comparison to the under 40 Men. I feel for them the most; their time goal was moved from 3.10 to 3.05. I cannot tell you how many men I’ve seen tweet/blog etc about training specifically for a sub 3.10, with the goal of achieving a GFA who have now missed out. Their achievement is now redundant.
I wouldn’t classify myself as good for age, in all honesty when I ran Paris I didn’t even know what the qualifying standards for London were, but the fact remains that I got my 2013 place through the good for age system and I was proud of that.
The actual time changes aren’t an issue, and some would claim are long overdue, the problem lies in the lack of notice. Assuming the deadline is still July, as it has been in the past, people don’t have time to achieve these new standards. The Spring marathon season is almost over, even if there was an opportunity to race, there wouldn’t be enough time to train or recover sufficiently from an earlier marathon to race hard again.
It isn’t about the time, New York is tougher, Boston is tougher (or now the same), but we know what these standards are and what we would need to do to achieve them. What it is about is expectation, it’s about knowing where you stand, it’s about slogging your heart & guts out for months, even years, to achieve a goal and then find out it stands for nothing. Actually, you failed, sorry about that. And that’s what isn’t right, that’s where London have got it so very very wrong.
The London Marathon drives a huge amount of revenue & support for charity, I get that, and I fully support it. But the London Marathon is also part of the World Marathon Majors Series and with this comes a certain level of responsibility and respect for runners. On this occasion I think it’s let us down. On this occasion I think the London Marathon has failed.