London Marathon needs a human face

Many Third Sector readers will be familiar with the terrain covered by the Dispatches programme on the London Marathon at the weekend: the intense feelings of unfairness among some charities about the Gold Bond system of allocating places for runners; the deep reluctance of the marathon’s leaders to talk openly about its organisation and finances; and their hostile response to any kind of questioning or criticism.

The Marathon’s refusal to come out and explain how it spends the money only leaves the impression that it has something to hide. If it had been open about things, including the pay of the senior staff, much of the wind would probably have been taken out of the programme’s sails. Instead it behaved as if nobody has any right to ask questions about the Marathon because it has raised a lot of money for charity.

The Marathon has been a huge success in many ways, but its rigid formula and attitudes are ripe for review. It needs more flexibility and a greater willingness to listen and respond. It needs more skilful public relations and a more human face. Even without change, it will no doubt continue to be successful. If it did change, it could probably do even better.