PLACES for this year's Oxford Half Marathon will be decided by a ballot system due to the increasing popularity of the event.

Virgin Sport, which will stage the race for the third time on October 13, has introduced the change rather than expand the number of places available.

In 2018, 12,000 runners signed up to take part and Virgin said that any more would 'negatively impact the runner experience.'

The half marathon route snakes through the centre of Oxford from the start line in Broad Street before heading north on Banbury Road and into Old Marston.

READ AGAIN: All the pictures from the 2018 half marathon

Residents have previously complained of feeling 'imprisoned' in their homes on the day of the race.

Virgin has opened applications for the ballot and anyone interested needs to register before March 1.

After this invitations will be sent out to those successful who then have a week to pay the entry fee and secure a place.

A further round of invitations will follow, if enough of those in the first round decide against taking up the offer.

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The London Marathon famously operates a highly competitive ballot system with just a 4.2 per cent chance of getting a place.

This year 414,168 people applied for one of the 17,500 places available.

Virgin has encouraged anyone who is unsuccessful to enter via a charity place and said part of the reason for the change was to raise more funds for good causes.

Enter the Oxford Half Marathon ballot here: