The Abbott World Marathon Majors started in 2006 and is an annual series of six of the largest and most renowned marathons spanning some of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. Originally, there were five races in total taking place in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. In 2013 the Abbott World Marathon Majors expanded to include Tokyo. These six races, along with the sport’s global championships, form an annual series to determine the world’s best male, female, and wheelchair competitors.
Runners score points according to their finishing place at the end of each race and at the end of the series the overall top three male, female, and wheelchair competitors receive a nice large sum of prize money. What a great incentive to get running!
In 2017 the prize structure for first place male and female competitor became $250 000, second place $50 000 and third place $25 000. The prize money for the wheelchair division for men and women is $50 000 for first place, $25 000 for second place and $10 000 for third place.
Here is an overview of the races in the series:
This marathon started in 2007 and takes place every February. Sporting over 36 000 runners of which 25 000 crossed the finish line, this marathon has been extremely successful from the get go.
The course is generally quite flat and is like a sightseeing tour of Tokyo with runners passing sites such as the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower, Asakusa and Ginza. The supporting crowd is another sight to see with kimono dancers, brass bands and a general festival feel.
Male course record: 2:05:42 (Dickson Chumba)
Female course record: 2:22:23 (Tirfi Tsegaye)
This is one of the oldest annual marathons, dating back to 1897! It’s an historic course with the route from quaint suburban Hopkinton to Boston being around as long as the modern Olympics. Although the start and finish points have been changed a few times over the years, the original course has remained much the same. The route starts by running sharply downhill until around 25km when runners face three tough climbs, ending off with the infamous “Heart Break Hill”. Luckily it is mostly downhill again from there as runners finish in the heart of Boston.
Male Course record: 2hr 3min 2sec (Geoffrey Mutai)
Female Course record: 2hr 18min 57sec (Rita Jeptoo)
The London Marathon:
This event was first held in 1981 and is set largely around the River Thames. The London Marathon starts at three separate points around Blackheath and finishes on the Mall alongside St James’ Park. In 2016 a record of 247 069 people entered with organisers expecting around 38 000 runners to be at the start line. The course is relatively flat, with a big drop between three to four miles in. The marathon takes place every April.
Male Course record: 2:04:29 (Wilson Kipsang)
Female Course record: 2:15:25 (Paula Radcliffe)
The Berlin Marathon:
Held in September every year, the Berlin Marathon is famous for being flat and fast, allowing for nine world records over recent years. It started in the Grunewald forest in 1974 and moved to West Berlin in 1981. The course starts and finishes on Strasse des 17, winding past sights such as the beautiful Angel of Peace statue, the Tier-garten district, the Reigstach, Berliner Dom, and the fountain at Strausberger Platz. The supporters are enthusiastic and one can count on seeing more than 60 bands lining the route!
Male Course record: 2:02:57 (Dennis Kipruto Kimetto)
Female Course record 2:19:12 (Mizuki Noguchi)
The Chicago Marathon started in 1977 with participant numbers growing from 4200 to a whopping 45000 and entries selling out as soon as six months before race day. Taking place every October, this marathon course is fast and flat with no major uphills. Runners start in Grant Park by Lake Michigan, winding through the neighbourhoods of northern Chicago all the way to the southern side before looping back to Grant Park. The Chicago Marathon has produced four world records, several national records and many personal bests.
Male Course record: 2:03:45 (Dennis Kimetto)
Female Course record: 2:17:18 (Paula Radcliffe)
The New York City Marathon:
The New York City marathon started back in 1970 with only 127 runners and an entry fee of just $1. Since then it has grown to become one of the most popular marathons in the world, attracting some of the top athletes. The course starts on Staten Island, at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge, and winds through north Brooklyn. Runners make their way down Third and Fourth avenues before heading through Sunset Park and Park Slope and carry on to explore the Upper East Side where glitz and glamour are abundant. Runners find themselves in the Bronx at mile 21 and then loop back down Fifth Avenue, ending off in the tranquil Central Park.
Male Course record: 2:05:06 (Geoffrey Mutai)
Female Course record: 2:22:31 (Margaret Okayo)
The last two marathons are the sport’s global championships – Olympic or Paralympic Marathons and IAAF World Championships or World Para Athletics Championships.
If you’re a marathon enthusiast then this is just the challenge you’ve been looking for. Not only do you get to see some of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world but you get to prove your skills by competing to be the very best in the world!
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