The World Marathon Majors is a series of six of the largest and most renowned Marathons in the world: Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon and New York City Marathon.
The organizers of these events are united in their effort to advance the sport, raise awareness of its elite athletes, and increase the level of interest in elite racing among running enthusiasts.
Wilson Kiprotich Kipsang from Kenya was the winner of the 2013-14 World Marathon Majors title. He smashed the marathon world record at Berlin in 2013 as his 2:03:23 took 15 seconds off the previous WR. Kipsang is the only man in history to win at London, Berlin and New York City. He is a two-time winner of the Virgin London Marathon setting a course record of 2:04:29 in 2014. One of the strong favorites at the London Olympics, Kipsang opened up a 20-seconds lead in the first half before finishing third. His 14:11 split between 10 and 15 km was the fastest ever in Olympic competition.
How it works
The Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) will award a $1 million prize, to be split equally to the top male and female point earners in Qualifying Races, after each full year cycle of competition.
AWMM Series XII begins in 2018 at the Berlin Marathon and ends at the next Berlin Marathon, The following series starts next year in Chicago and ends a year later at the same place. In 2021 the last of 6 yearly cycles ends in New York.
The Olympic Marathon and IAAF World Championships Marathon will be included in the race schedule in the years they are held, but will not begin or end the Series.
Every Top Athlete should start in 2 of the races per year cycle. They earn points based on their finishing place (1st – 5th place).
The male and female athlete winner who scores most points will win.
If an athlete earns points in more than 2 events, only the highest 2 scores count.
The champions will commit to additional out-of-competition drug testing. They will receive $100,000 a year for 5 years, to take better advantage of long-term biological passport mapping in combating performance-enhancing drug use. During the 5 year period, illicit drug use can become apparent before the full $500,000 is paid out.
Because of their high standard, the World Marathon Majors all have an IAAF Road Race Gold Label.
IAAF Road Race Labels
Each year, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations ) awards leading Road Races (10K-100K) around the World, based on quality standards such as an international elite field, doping controls and regulations concerning health and safety of participants and officials, course measurement, traffic, water and refreshment stations, electronic timing and media.
There’s a Gold, Silver and Bronze Label.
To qualify as Gold level elite runners, athletes must in the 36 months period preceding the competition, run the Marathon distance under a specific time, set by the IAAF. Or they must have finished in the first 20 places in the most recent edition of the IAAF World Championships, World Half Marathon Championships or Olympic Games Marathons.
Entry drawing procedure for recreational runners
To accommodate the overwhelming interest in the World Marathon Majors, every race has an entry drawing. Everyone has the same chance at one of the available starting spots unless you’re one of the fast runners that qualify based on a specific Marathon finish time.
Another way to enter the races is to run and fundraise for any of the Charity Programs.
The entry drawing procedure might not apply to people who have participated many times in previous years, inline skaters, wheelchair athletes and hand cyclists.
Check every race for the specific regulations.
Runners who have successfully completed each of the World Marathon Majors will be honored with a Six Star Finisher Certificate.
Unlike the other five marathons in the World Marathon Majors, the Tokyo Marathon started as a massive race from its start in 2007 and grew steady ever since. This year 36.000 runners took part.
Tokyo is the safest city in the world and well worth visiting. Check your travel tips for a Tokyo Marathon “RaceCation”.
Japan is successful in promoting a nationwide marathon movement in collaboration with major marathon races around the country.
Historically, Japan is known for its elite marathon races with very strict qualifying standards. The Tokyo Marathon is the only marathon in Japan that matches both the elite field depth and mass participation base of the other major marathons in the world.
All you want to know about the Tokyo Marathon
Check out the history, the facts, the course and how you can qualify and get ready for this booming race.
Traveling and Running in the safest city of the world
Anyone who considers to run a Marathon will have heard of The Boston Marathon, as it is the oldest continuously running Marathon, and the second longest continuously running footrace in North America.
Another reason why it is so famous, is because it his so hard to get in. The acceptance of official race entrants is based on qualifying time, with the fastest qualifiers (in relation to their age and gender) being accepted first until the race is full.
One of the challenging parts of the mostly downhill route is to temper your pace in the first part, so you won’t hit the wall when you reach the so called Heartbreak Hill at mile 20.
The Marathon became even more famous after the bombing tragedy in 2013, when three spectators were killed and more than 200 people were injured.
Since then, people also want to run the Boston Marathon to make a statement, share their grief and show their compassion.
All you want to know about the Boston Marathon from start to finish
History, facts and course of the Boston Marathon that has been run since 1897.
The London Marathon has a global reputation of a fast, record-setting course. Many (Guinness) World Records have been broken during this race.
The races that are organized are the Marathon, MiniMarathon and Wheelchair Marathon.
Entrance is only possible through a ballot or by applying for a charity place.
All you want to know about the London Marathon from start to finish
Running in London: Marathon and city travel tips
It was after the Berlin Wall collapsed in November 1989 when a new era started. On September 30, 1990, three days before reunification, the course of the Berlin Marathon led through Brandenburg Gate and both parts of Berlin.
In 2001 Naoko Takahashi became the first woman to break the 2:20 barrier in Berlin. The flat and fast loop course then was changed significantly for the 2003 race. Paul Tergat, who ran the world record of 2:04:55, became the first man to cross the new finish line, passing through Brandenburg Gate – the symbol for reunification.
In 2013 Wilson Kipsang set a new World Record in Berlin of 2.03.23.
There’s an entry drawing procedure, like for all 6 World Marathon Majors.
You can find all links about the Berlin Marathon below.
City travel tips before and after the Berlin Marathon
Berlin city tips for runners
The Chicago Marathon is known for its flat and fast course. Combined with a cool fall climate it offers a great opportunity to post new personal, national or world record. The Chicago Marathon starts and finishes in Grant Park and travels through 29 neighborhoods of this magnificent city. Four world records, several national records, and countless personal bests were set.
Participants enjoy the support of 1.7 million spectators as they run. Every year runners from more than 100 countries and all 50 of the United States compete in this Marathon.
If you can’t get a guaranteed entry, you can register for the lottery, which opens in March. There are 45,000 places available. The Chicago Marathon takes place every year in October.
The Chicago Marathon earned a silver level event sustainability certification in 2014 and aims for gold.
Chicago for runners; city travel tips before and after the Marathon
New York Marathon
The TCS New York City Marathon is the most popular and inclusive marathon in the world, attracting the world’s top professional athletes and a vast range of recreational runners. The race began in 1970 with just 127 entrants racing four laps of Central Park.
Today over 50,000 runners from around the world tour New York City’s five boroughs, starting on Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and finishing in Central Park.
Participants include Olympians, Paralympians, wheelchair racers, top age-group competitors, and many thousands who run for charity and to achieve their own personal goals.
The TCS New York City Marathon is the premier event of New York Road Runners, the world’s foremost community running organization, whose mission is to help and inspire people through running.
This year the Marathon will be held on November 5.
Running through history of the New York City Marathon
You can find all links about the World Marathon Majors below.
Resources / further reading
World Marathon Majors
Tokyo Marathon February 25, 2018
Boston Marathon April 16, 2018
Qualification rules Boston Marathon
Top Qualifying races for the Boston Marathon
London Marathon April 22, 2018
Berlin Marathon September 16, 2018
Chicago Marathon October 7, 2018
New York Marathon November 4, 2018
The story of the Marathon
More Marathon Races around the World
IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations)
Excited about all these race destinations?
Sign up to stay up to date of running adventures in 2018 and get ideas for your bucket list!