Well in case anyone wants to join the madness of the selection ballot before the real madness of completing the course go click - Virgin London Marathon 2012 entry.
It is my fourth time in the lottery (ballot), as far as my memory stretches. I have always maintained that I will only run one marathon in my lifetime. Though that was on the assumption that London was tricky but not impossible to get a place for. I have read that if you have a pre-clocked marathon time it helps your entry, which tempts me to run one somewhere before tackling the biggest marathon in Great Britain. However there is a lot of 'folklore' that builds up around these events and it's often hard to pin down a real tip for entry success. One unnerving and uncorroborated 'fact' was that there are 50 applicants for every place, gulp!
There are ways to be more certain, and certainly ways of increasing the odds. The clearest way to be more certain is to run quickly, and by that I mean run a time which is 'good for your age'. It seems to be a tier below elite, for what I might guess are county / national level runners across age groups, who own prior competitive times. Clearly not something I'm likely to attain. The way of increasing your odds appears to be the 'charity bond' route, you promise to raise an agreed amount of money and the charity agrees to provide you one of the places they obtained from the organisers. Something I strongly consider, but the work involved in raising the amounts is not insignificant. In the end I have 99.5% decided to try the ballot every year until I am 40, and then try to get a charity berth in my 40th year - a slightly twisted birthday present perhaps?