Missed out on the London Marathon ballot? Why not try something different instead?

Close-up of runners' feet during a race
If you missed out on the London Marathon ballot, what next? (Image credit: Getty)

Every year some there are runners who are lucky enough to get a place in the London Marathon ballot, but tens of thousands are left disappointed. The odds really are stacked against you. This year, a record 578,374 people entered the 2023 London Marathon ballot, and between 17,000 and 20,000 were given places (the organizer of the event doesn't reveal the exact number of ballot places).

If you were not lucky this year in the London Marathon ballot, don’t hang up your running shoes in despair because there are many other marathons that are still open for entries. 

The best marathons if you didn’t get into London

People running a marathon on city streets

London is amazing, but there are lots of other fantastic marathons out there (Image credit: Getty)

Same day, different place and marathon

Instead of the London marathon on April 21, 2024, why not enter the Vienna City Marathon on the same day? This is a great way to see the Austrian capital’s many famous sights – and clock a 26.2-mile race as well. Register now for the marathon

Marathon – and a European city break

Combine a marathon with a city break in Europe. There are plenty to choose from, such as the Barcelona Marathon on March 10, 2024, the Madrid Marathon on April 28, and the Geneva Marathon on May 5 (there is a waiting list for this event).

A marathon further afield

Make more of a trip for your marathon and enjoy a vacation plus a race. For example, how about the Vancouver International Marathon, which takes place in Canada in May 2024? You can register now. 

In China, The Great Wall Marathon takes place on May 18, 2024. It’s renowned as a tough marathon with plenty of hills but the rewards are seeing this ancient Great Wall of China. 

Meanwhile, in June in Brazil there is the Rio Marathon, which promises stunning scenery and fabulous beaches.

A wildlife marathon

Africa’s Kenya Wildlife Marathon on June 1, 2024, allows runners to run amid the country’s beautiful landscape and support the Kenya Wildlife Trust. 

Close-up of people's feet running during a race

Choose a flat or hilly marathon to suit your aspirations  (Image credit: Getty)

A flat marathon

If you are looking for a PB (personal best) time then a flat marathon is an attractive option. In the UK, the Newport Marathon takes place annually in April. The route was devised by double Olympic marathon runner Steve Brace and takes runners through the city, rural villages and medieval towns before heading back to the city.

On April 28, 2024, the Boston UK Marathon is another flat route and takes place in Lincolnshire. 

These marathons might be your perfect opportunity to score a sub-three-hour marathon or a 3:30 marathon.

Man running uphill

There are great rewards if you enter a hilly race (Image credit: Getty)

Run for the hills – and a medal

A hilly marathon will rarely bring s PB, but this type of race will give you a goal to become fitter and stronger. Check our the Manchester Marathon in April 2024 and the Snowdonia Marathon and Langdale Marathon, both in October .

Head off-road

Leave the streets behind for a trail running marathon. The Glencoe Marathon in the Scottish Highlands is on September 15, 2024, and offers both challenges and the rich rewards of superb mountain views. You'll need a pair of trail running shoes for this marathon.

Close-up of people's feet running on a country trail

How about a trail marathon or a whisky marathon? (Image credit: Getty)

A whisky marathon 

The Dramathon is an annual festival of trail running in Speyside in Scotland each October. The area is famous as the home of many whisky distilleries. The Full Dram is a marathon distance from one distillery to another. Goodie bags include whisky miniatures.

A fall marathon

The London Marathon requires runners to train through the winter, while an autumn marathon lets you enjoy warmer weather summer training. 

We’ve already mentioned a few marathons that take place later in the year but there are more, such as the Loch Ness Marathon in October. The route is an A to B from Fort Augustus to Inverness in Scotland. 

The Berlin Marathon takes place in September, the Chester Marathon is in October each year, as are the Isle of Wight Marathon, the Yorkshire Marathon and the Amsterdam Marathon.

As you can see, if you are disappointed not to make it into the London Marathon 2024, there are plenty of other marathons to choose from. Now get training!

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.