Active Travel



The Marathon That Isn’t

Nov 6, 2015 | Lifestyle, Running | 20 comments

When I first received an email to let me know I’d got into the Tokyo marathon I was overjoyed. It would tick another marathon major, and I’d get to visit a country that had long been on my bucket list, oh and run a marathon!! I was thrilled, and felt extremely lucky as a number of other friends hadn’t been so lucky in the ballot.

After Chicago my plan was still to run the Tokyo marathon in February, and just run for fun but for a number of reasons I won’t be running my next 26.2 miles in Asia.

Firstly I’m mentally not ready to run another marathon in less than 4 months time. I would have to have started training almost immediately on returning and my head is not in that space right now.

Chicago Marathon Finish line 2015

My knee (and weirdly my foot) isn’t feeling one hundred per cent OK, I think I need to address the issues there rather than continuing to foam roll/cross my fingers and hope for the best. I’ll want to run fast in Japan after missing my goal a few weeks ago and I don’t think I’m capable of pushing physically (or mentally) for another 3.35 attempt so soon after Chicago.

Jumping family photo Willis Tower

I’ve been lucky enough to have Tom and my family supporting me at each of the marathons I’ve run, due to the timing of this year’s Tokyo marathon, none of them would be able to join me on the trip. For me, having them there is such a confidence boost, and I don’t want to have to run it without them, plus Tom’s really keen for a trip to Japan so I’d feel mean going without him. Although I’d probably know a few people out there, or make friends on the trip, going alone isn’t my idea of fun and cost wise, travelling alone would be so much higher.

Unfortunately you can’t defer your Tokyo marathon entries (which I actually think is a little irresponsible from the organisers as I would imagine it leads to more illegal swaps and runners racing when they’re injured) so I will probably enter the ballot again next year or sign up to run with 2.09 events (I ran the NYC marathon with them in 2013, and my step-dad ran Chicago with them!) Sadly this is a more expensive option but at least it means guaranteed entry!

In the meantime, I am focusing on running for fun, getting my fitness back through HIIT style classes, and thinking about whether I might be able to sneak a spot in the London Marathon to run for pure enjoyment around my home city! I’d also love to try to race a half marathon if my knee feels like it, I have some serious time to knock off!

Have you ever signed up for a race then had to pull out? What do you think about races that won’t let you defer entry?


  1. Rachael Hallewell


    I sprained my ankle in the summer and had to pull out of a triathlon. I then trained for an Olympic distance triathlon and had an accident on my second lap of the bike course when my rear wheel snapped in two! It was a pretty annoying summer of competing and I had set backs both physically and psychologically. Not only that, entry is expensive and I was really disappointed. I empathise with how you feel.

    Respect the decision you’ve made and acknowledge the reasons why you made that decision. You’ll come back stronger – honestly! Just have to be patient. I think you’ve made a wise decision. You have to look after yourself.

    I think it’s a real shame they won’t let you defer – like you said, very silly as it does encourage people to compete injured.

    Keep having fun with your workouts, and good luck with getting into the London Marathon.

  2. Ash diamond

    I am so proud of you for making this VERY difficult decision. I know it’s so hard to say no to amazing opportunities like this but it will be the best thing in the long run. Also, you’ll have so much fun with HITT, spin and other fun things!

  3. Cara

    Aww next year my dear! And we can take the boys!! ????

    • Cara

      Sorry- don’t know why it came up with the question marks- that was meant to be a smiley face!

  4. Alexis

    Congrats on making a tough decision; I recently went through the same thing with the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon. In a nutshell, I got laid off and a number of other things happened that turned my life upside down. I was also in 3 weddings across the country. Needless to say, a training season wasn’t in the cards, so I deferred (thankfully I could). It’s such a tough decision, but one I’m glad I made and I bet you’ll be really glad as well. Good luck on returning to non-marathon training :D.

  5. Cathryn

    I think you made a really good decision. Tokyo will always be there.

  6. tessietickle

    That’s totally the right thing to do, you can’t run a marathon if your heart’s not in it. I pulled out of Fort William this July which would’ve been 3 months after Brighton because I just couldn’t be arsed. No marathons for me next year – it’s all about the triathlons, faster, shorter runs and weights!

  7. Hannah

    Definitely sounds like the right decision!

  8. Abi

    Sometimes as runners we don’t know when to stop! This is definitely the best decision, when your mentally not ready then your body doesn’t follow either. You will come back stronger 🙂 2015 has not gone my way running wise at all (appendicitis ruined my Brighton & London marathons, even though I still completed them, the PB didn’t happen) I tried to give an Autumn marathon a go, but decided 6 weeks before that I wasn’t where I should be training wise and the brutal fact that I really wasn’t enjoying it. My mind wasn’t in the right place. Taking it back to basics in 2016. 🙂 well done in Chicago, the tough marathons pug everything into perspective 🙂

  9. runningprincess78

    It’s a tough call to make but sounds like the right one for you at this time. I had a similar experience with the Paris marathon a few years back. Due to an injury at the tail end of the year I couldn’t start training when I wanted to. Places couldn’t be deferred so I just had to write it off. Luckily I hadn’t booked any flights or accommodation so only lost my entry fee. It was weird seeing loads of posts about the race when I was sitting at home but have since laid those demons to rest by returning (twice!) to run that race and am signed up again for next year. What can I say – I love Paris!

  10. Catherine

    Chicago lets you defer. I deferred my 2015 entry to 2026 and while it was a difficult decision, the weight lifted from my shoulders when I openly admitted I wasn’t running. Well done Charlie, you will get in again

  11. Mrs B

    I also got a place and after much heart-searching had to turn it down. I really wanted to do it, but the cost of getting there and staying there was so much that I couldn’t justify spending it on something just for myself. We’re a family and it’s our shared money I would be spending. Whilst my family support me, I knew we could all have just as much fun and Icould still do a marathon closer to home. My husband spent ages looking for nice places to do marathons and found Lake Garda Marathon. At only €30 entry and a cheap ryan-air flight it was an incredibly beautiful place to run and much much cheaper.

  12. peachylau

    It seems like a good decision, you definitely want your trip to Japan to be associated with good memories

  13. Amanda @

    I signed up for the Detroit half marathon and was super excited about it because it was a unique course where you ran into Canada and then back into the US. I had been experiencing a lot of calf tightness and pain and was so upset about it, but decided the smart decision was to back out. I was worried I’d make my injury worse and get stuck in Canada haha. I still went to Michigan as I had planned the marathon around visiting friends and while I was disappointed to back out (and lose the money), it’s always best to listen to your body and your head when taking on so many miles. It’s a tough call but you’re making the right decision!

  14. Richard Pinder

    Going through it right now…got in Berlin in September and just picked up a medial tibia stress fracture, again (4-12 weeks recovery)…they have plagued my training over the years! I don’t think Berlin will let me defer so I will lose my place…on the plus side, I too am planning to do Tokyo in 2017, either by ballot or with 2:09, I ran New York with them in 2009…not looking forward to the Tokyo marathon half as much as I am of flying up north to Niseko straight afterwards for two weeks of powder skiing!!

    • charlotte

      Haha ME TOO Richard – that’s our plan, after stopping at Disney! I love 2.09- my stepdad is running Tokyo with them next year – see you there 🙂

  15. chariz

    I am deferring my chicago marathon for 2017 because of a stress fracture. Been running with shin splints and it made it worst. Now, I need to stop running for 6 weeks.
    I think its unfair if you can’t defer your entry. But, good to know that you are focused on getting your fitness back. I am doing that as well. Keep up the great work and good luck on your future marathons!

  16. Danielle

    I just had to defer my NYC marathon entry the day before. I started to feel extremely sick 2 days before the race and missed my flight. I’ve been blaming myself because I’m convinced I subconsciously self-sabotaged. I was mentally and physically very prepared to complete what would have been my first marathon. Money went down the drain and my husband was going to be there to cheer me on. Instead I deleted social media apps from my phone so that I wasn’t tempted to watch my running mates post photos of every joyous moment. I’m so angry with myself. I know I wouldn’t have been able to run with the flu but I’m having trouble accepting this just wasn’t my time.

    • charlotte

      Oh Danielle I am so sorry but you made the right decision. Running a marathon when sick, especially your first, would have been awful and honestly, you may have never wanted to run one again. Obviously losing the money is very very annoying, but it will be amazing and so worth it next year, I promise!

  17. Martin

    I’m in the same position this year! Ran Chicago 2016, got drawn in Tokyo, my knee hurts, won’t make Tokyo.

    Doesn’t hurt that much when you run for fun. There is so many marathons in the future. There has to be fun in it!


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