Your options when running for charity

A guide to charity running

So you're considering running for charity but are a little confused about all the different options. Not to worry - here's your guide to running for charity.

Not only does training for a race bring great fitness benefits and do wonders for your self-confidence, running on behalf of a charity brings the added bonus of raising important funds, making your efforts even more rewarding.

With terms like ‘Gold Bond’ places, ‘own places’, ‘charity places’, ‘ballot places’, it's no surprise many would-be charity runners end up confused about what they need to do next.

But sorting out your charity running options isn’t as difficult as you might think. By getting to grips with the choices available, you can start to think about whether you want to secure your own place and put that to good use by choosing to run for a charity, or whether you want to approach a charity and run for them using one of the event places they have secured.

The majority of races out there allow you to apply for a place in the race yourself, but for some of the bigger and more popular races, demand far outstrips the places available. In these events, charities are able to buy a limited number of places and use these for fundraising, through sponsorship and other means.

Charity places in running events

In the case of the London Marathon, the places that charities buy are called Gold Bond places. The charities purchase these from the London Marathon, which guarantees the runner a place in the race without having to go through the ballot draw. This is why charities insist on runners entering into an agreement to raise  a minimum amount. This, in some cases, can be up to £2,000 because charities need to recoup their costs as well as raising funds. Charities also purchase places for other race events, including charity events abroad, and require a set amount to be raised in a similar way.

Runners who opt to get in touch with a charity with view to securing a charity place need to remember that charities are dependent on this income, so there’s little point in accepting a place when you’ve got no realistic hope of reaching the fundraising target. There isn’t usually a penalty if you don’t manage to raise the minimum sponsorship amount, but charities ask that you don't apply for a golden bond place unless you are sure that you will be able to raise at least the specified minimum amount. And of course, the charities will always give you fundraising help in any way they can. 

Own place charity running

If you choose to take the other option and attempt to secure your own running place via a ballot or some other means, this means that you are still able to to run for a charity.

With the London Marathon, runners are informed in early October if they’ve got a place through the ballot. Anyone who secures a place can still run for charity – and won’t have to reaching a specific fundraising target. 

It’s well worth considering making the most of your own place in the London Marathon, or any other race for that matter. After all, there is only one thing more rewarding than running the race – and that's running it for charity!

Remember that anything you raise will be additional income for the charity. They will only face a small cost when looking after you as part of their running team, so the more runners with ballot places, or equivalent, that they can attract, the better.

So which running option is best for you?

Having established the difference between own place runners and charity place runners, you may still be unsure which is the best option for you. Trying to get your own place is not a guaranteed option because you don’t always know that are going to get place. Starting to train for a race and then finding you haven't got a place can be hugely disappointing.

With the London Marathon, many runners apply for a ballot place and also approach charities about securing one of their places so that they can be sure they are going to be in the race for certain.

Should a runner be successful in gaining a ballot place, they can get in touch the charity who will be able to allocate their Gold Bond place to another runner. Both runners can still raise funds for their chosen charity, although the ballot place runner doesn’t have the pressure of a specific fundraising target.

Go the extra mile for charity

If you’re running in a race then why not run for charity in a charity marathon or charity half marathon? By going the ‘extra mile’ and getting involved with a charity you can help raise much needed revenue, but also ensure you have extra support on the big day. Reaching the finishing line will be doubly rewarding, knowing that you've achived a personal goal and a charity one too.

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