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The Big Six: World Marathon Majors That Every Runner Dreams Of

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As you continue following your passion for becoming a marathon runner, you would like to challenge your limits and complete more challenging marathons. Marathons are a true test of grit and determination of a runner. This is why most marathoners target World Marathon Majors and aim at completing them. We have compiled all information pertaining to these glorious marathon majors.

The Top 6 World Marathon Majors

Top 6 World Marathon Majors
Top 6 World Marathon Majors (Source)

The organizers of the six most reputed marathon events worldwide have come together for promoting running. These six events are:

  1. London Marathon
  2. Boston Marathon
  3. Berlin Marathon
  4. Chicago Marathon
  5. New York City Marathon
  6. In addition, a biennial race, the IAAF World Championships Marathon, and Olympic and Paralympic marathons are also a part of World Marathon Majors.

This mega collaboration has been made with the sole purpose of uniting running enthusiasts and motivating them to take part in elite events. These races determine the world’s best male and female marathon runners.

Scoring System for World Marathon Majors

Participants of these six events score points for their performance in each race.

Based on their points, the best male and female marathon runners are chosen during the qualifying period and awarded a World Marathon Majors prize money of $500,000 each. Champions not only receive a huge amount of money for their dedication to running, but they also go down in history as examples of elite running.

Thus, it is a matter of great honor.

Scores from a maximum of two qualifying races are taken into consideration.

If a runner participates and completes more than two qualifying events, the top two performances will be taken into account.

World Marathon Majors
World Marathon Majors - An honor for every runner (source)

The same scoring is followed for Abbott World Marathon Majors wheelchair series, but in this case, a total of four races is considered. In case the event coincides with a Paralympic marathon, then a total of five races is considered.

The points scored by finishers at different positions are as follows:

  • 1st position – 25 points
  • 2nd position – 16 points
  • 3rd position – 9 points
  • 4th position – 4 points
  • 5th position – 1 point

In case there is a tie for the first position, the following guidelines are used to determine the winner:

The athlete with the best head-to-head record will be given preference.Runners who have finished more qualifying races in that period will be given preference.

Individual race directors from each qualifying race choose the winner.

Benefits of Participating in World Marathon Majors

To be able to take part in as many qualifying races for the Abbott World Marathon Majors series is a dream for most runners. This is because each of the qualifying races is a reputed event in itself. To be able to take part in these events is a feat in itself.

The best way to honor your passion for running is to target World Marathon Majors.

By participating in World Marathon Majors, you make sure that you are undergoing a completely professional training.

Participating in this event will give you a chance to run along the most famous and dedicated runners from all over the world. This event is also a mark of goodwill among the community of marathon runners. The huge cash prize is a worthy incentive for this event.

Abbott World Marathon Majors: Individual Races

Let us have a look at the key features of individual qualifying races that constitute the AbbottWorld Marathon Majors Series.

Boston Marathon

boston athletic association
Boston Marathon

The prestige associated with Boston Marathon cannot be explained in words. It is considered to be the toughest marathon in the world, and also the oldest. With strict qualifying criteria, this event has participation from the world’s most elite runners.

The Boston Marathon was started in 1897, and the course has been modified over the years. However, it still remains one of the most challenging race courses in the world.

The prize purse of Boston Marathon is as grand as the event itself. The fastest finishers in the men and women category receive a cash prize of $150,000 each. The fastest men and women finishers in wheelchair category receive $20,000. In addition, there are lucrative time and record incentives for a new world record and new course records each year.

How to Enter Boston Marathon

Entry to this race is by fulfilling their eligibility criteria or by running for charity. Runners with disabilities receive a direct entry in this race. Running for charity requires you to fulfill the minimum fundraising requirement as laid down by the organization that you choose to run for.

  • Registration Fee: US citizens have to pay $185 and runners from other countries have to pay $250 to run this race.
  • Next Boston Marathon Race Day: 16th April 2018.

Check out the Detailed Guide for Boston Marathon and the Complete Guide for Boston Marathon Qualifying Times

New York Marathon

new york marathon logo
New York Marathon

The humble race that began with four laps around the Central Park in 1970 has evolved into the biggest running event in the world. The New York City Marathon takes the participants through all five boroughs of the city and features participation from over 50,000 runners.

Fastest finishers in the men and women category take home a cash prize of $100,00 each while the corresponding wheelchair finishers receive a cash prize of $15,000 each. In addition to this money, around $500,000 are reserved for runners who make new time and records.

How to Enter New York Marathon

Entry to the New York Marathon is by lottery. Runners who choose to run for charity gain automatic entry to this race provided they meet the minimum fundraising requirements laid down by the charity organization they choose.

Athletes with disabilities, tour groups and members of NYRR also get direct entry to this event.

Runners who meet the following qualifying time criteria are also eligible for direct entry:

Age        Men        Women

18-34        02:53:00    03:13:00
35-39        02:55:00    03:15:00
40-44        02:58:00    03:26:00
45-49        03:05:00    03:38:00
50-54        03:14:00    03:51:00
55-59        03:23:00    04:10:00
60-64        03:34:00    04:27:00
65-69        03:45:00    04:50:00
70-74        04:10:00    05:30:00
75-79        04:30:00    06:00:00
above 80    04:55:00    06:35:00

  • Registration Fee: US citizens have to pay $295 ($255 for NYRR members) and overseas runners have to pay $358 for participating in New York Marathon
  • Next New York Marathon Race Day: 4th November 2018

Berlin Marathon

Berlin Marathon logo
Berlin Marathon 

The prestigious Berlin Marathon was inaugurated in 1974 in the forest Grunewald. Since the demolition of the Berlin wall in 1989, the course of this race was changed to pass through the Brandenburg Gate that had become the symbol of unification and new beginnings.

This race awards cash prizes of $50,000 each to the fastest men and women finishers. The corresponding finishers in the wheelchair category receive a cash prize of $5600 each. In addition, a total of $206830 is awarded to finishers who make new time and record.

How to Enter Berlin Marathon

Entry to this race is by lottery for a single runner and for running teams. Direct entry can be ensured if you choose to run for a charity organization and meet their fundraising requirements. Tour operators and participants on wheelchair or hand bike are also entitled to direct entry.

Fast runners can secure a place in the Berlin Marathon if they meet the following time criterion at any international marathon:

Male runners (up to 45 years): below 02:45:00; (above 45 years): 02:55:00

Female runners (up to 45 years): below 03:00:00; (above 45 years): 03:20:00

  • Registration Fee: The runner has to pay 108 Euros for participating in Berlin Marathon.
  • Next Berlin Marathon Race Day: 16th September 2018

London Marathon

London Marathon logo
London Marathon

UK’s greatest running event was started in March 1981 and saw participation by more than 7000 participants. The second edition of the London Marathon saw a three-fold increase in participation. The event has come a long way since then, and currently witnesses close to 40,000 participants.

The cash prize that the fastest finishers in men and women categories take home is $55,000 each. The fastest male and female finishers in wheelchair category receive $20,000 each. In addition, the event has a cash prize for setting new time and records.

How to Enter London Marathon

Entry to this race is by lottery (Ballot). Runners who wish to secure direct entry in this race should opt to run for charity and meet the minimum fundraising requirements, as laid down by the charity organization they choose. Members of British Athletic Club get direct entry to this race.

Another way to qualify for entry to London Marathon is by proving ‘Good for Age’. This criterion is valid only for UK nationals.

If a runner has run an international marathon in the qualifying time period and finished it below the qualifying time designated by the committee, he/she is eligible for direct entry.

The tentative qualifying times are as follows:

18- 40 years: below 03:05:00 (men) and below 03:45:00 (women)
41- 49 years: below 03:15:00 (men) and below 03:5:00 (women)
50- 59 years: below 03:20:00 (men) and below 04:00:00 (women)
60- 64 years: below 03:45:00 (men) and below 04:30:00 (women)
65- 69 years: below 04:00:00 (men) and below 05:00:00 (women)
70- 75 years: below 05:00:00 (men) and below 03:45:00 (women)
76+ years: below 05:30:00 (men) and below 06:30:00 (women)

  • Registration Fee: Runners are required to pay $124 for running this race.
  • Next London Marathon Race Day: 22nd April 2018

Tokyo Marathon

Tokyo Marathon logo
Tokyo Marathon

The very first Tokyo Marathon was held in February 2007 with a little more than 30,000 participants. Kenya’s Daniel Njenga won this race in 02:09:45 in men’s series and Japan’s Hitomi Niiya won it in the women’s series, timed at 02:31:01. In the last ten years, it has seen a tremendous increase in participation with more than 300,000 applications and 36,000 confirmed participants.

The total prize money for this event is $400,000, with the fastest finishers in men and women category receiving $10800 each. In the wheelchair category, the winner takes home $9800. In addition, there is an extra prize of $267,260 for making a new time world record; $44540 for a new national record and $26725 for a new course record.

Ever since Tokyo has been chosen to be the host for Olympic 2020, the Tokyo Marathon has also gained much more importance in the eyes of runners all across the globe.

How to Enter Tokyo Marathon

Entry to Tokyo Marathon is made by a lottery process. Those runners who wish to ensure a direct entry in this race have the option of running for charity, joining the ‘run as one’ program, or run as a tour operator. Wheelchair participants as given a direct entry.

  • Registration Fee: Japanese citizens have to pay 10,800 Yen and runners from overseas have to pay 12,800 Yen ($117) in order to take part in this race.
  • Next Tokyo Marathon Race Day: 25th February 2018

Chicago Marathon

Chicago Marathon logo
Chicago Marathon

This coveted race was inaugurated in 1977 with 4200 participants. Since then, the craze for this event has grown so much that more than 45000 participants run this race. The course of this race traverses through 29 neighborhoods of Chicago.

The fastest male and female finishers of this race receive a cash prize of $100,000 each. The fastest male and female finishers in the wheelchair category receive a cash prize of $10,000 each.

Additionally, $420,000 are given to finishers who create new time and records.

How to Enter Chicago Marathon

Entry to this race is by lottery. If you want to secure your place in this event, you may choose to run for charity or as part of a tour group. Running for charity would require you to meet the minimum fundraising criteria as established by the charity organization that you choose to run for.

If you have finished an international marathon under 03:15:00 (for men) or 03:45:00 (for women), then you are eligible for direct entry.

  • Registration Fee: US nationals have to pay $195 and foreign nationals have to pay $220 for taking part in Chicago Marathon
  • Next Chicago Marathon Race Day:7th October 2018

Championship Marathons

Championship Marathons
For the champions!

In addition to the above-mentioned marathons, all marathons held at a level of global athletics are included as qualifying races for the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series.

These championship marathons include

  • IAAF World Championships
  • Olympic Games
  • Paralympic Games
  • World Para Athletics Championships

The 26-mile race was first included in Olympic Games in 1908 and the first wheelchair race for the same distance was included in Paralympic Games in 1984.

Since then, these events have drawn huge participation that increases in every new edition of the games.

World Marathon Majors: Training tips

If you want to be part of World Marathon Majors Series, it is important to have a dedicated and regular routine of training and to understand the significance of rest, too.

The qualifying races for this series are a true test of endurance and mental framework of a runner. Therefore, you should stick to your routine for increasing stamina and endurance.

The routes of these races are challenging and will require your muscles to be flexible and resilient.

Don’t ignore tapering period if you want to perform well in the individual races that are part of the World Marathon Majors.

Running in a marathon is one thing, and being part of the coveted World Marathon Majors is something completely different. This series is the ultimate marker of a runner’s dedication and passion.

By being a part of this event, runners not only gain monetary benefit but also earn respect and fame in the world.

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