The World Marathon Majors series was founded in 2006 to popularize marathons and to define the strongest athletes. It includes 6 annual runs at 42.195 km (26.219 miles) in the world's largest cities. At the end of each series two top athletes, male and female, receive a prize fund of $1 million, which is divided equally.
The city that hosts one of the Major Marathon attracts many thousand runners annually. Here you can have a walk around the largest EXPO, visit workshops held by renowned athletes, feel the support of thousands of viewers when on the track and enjoy most famous city sights.
However, it's not easy for ordinary runners to be accepted for this great event. You need to focus on your abilities and try your luck. Those, who got a chance to run all six international routes can be called ’the darling of fortune’. In spring 2016 organizers created a special medal for such runners.
Running one of Majors marathons is the dream of thousands of runners around the world. Today we will tell about each marathon of the series, to make it easier for you to reach this goal.
Tokyo Marathon was first held in 2007, but this event entered the World Marathon Majors series only after 5 years. The marathon became the successor of the Tokyo International Men's Marathon. In 2009 it was joined by the Tokyo International Women's Marathon, which had previously been held separately. In addition to the main distance, a 10-km (6.2-mile) race also takes place regularly.
Next start: March 3, 2019.
Number of participants: organizers accept up to 300,000 applications, but in fact a few times fewer runners take part in it.
Route description: the first 5 km (3.1 miles) you should run downhill, then a smooth track begins and leads through the whole city. The difference in altitude between start and finish is 43 m (141 ft). After 35 km (21.7 miles) there is a 180-degree turn.
Entry fee: for residents of Japan - $102, for foreign residents - $120.
How to participate:
- Try your luck in the lottery. After registration of applicants, the program randomly selects marathon participants.
- Participate in the Run as one program. It is created for runners, who live outside of Japan and have good results in past races. Qualification time for men: from 2:21:01 to 2:45:00 and women from 2:52:01 to 3:30:00.
- Become a charity runner. To participate in the charity program, you need to raise at least $940. Choose one of the charity organization and fill out an electronic application or write a letter telling why you want to run for this organization.
- Guaranteed participation - buy a tour at a company that cooperates with the Tokyo Marathon.
Marathon in Boston is the oldest marathon of the planet, which is held since 1897. It is the only one from the Major series, with no world records fixed. The recommended altitude difference on an IAAF certified track cannot exceed one meter per kilometer of distance (3.2 ft per 0.62 mile). This means that if the altitude difference in any section exceeds 42 m per km (138 ft per 0.62 mile), such a route will not be certified. In Boston, the altitude difference is 136 m (446 ft).
Next start: April 15, 2019, Monday, on Patriot Day. This is a state holiday in the states of Massachusetts and Maine, which is celebrated in honor of the first battles in the war for US independence.
Number of participants: not more than 30 000.
Route description: The route starts in Hopkinton and covers eight Massachusetts cities. The first 10 km (6.2 miles) runners go downhill, which is tricky: legs can burn if you run faster than planned. But the hardest thing for runners is to overcome the Newton Hills that starts after 20 km (12.4 miles). The hardest of them is Heartbreak Hill. The length of this ascent is about 600 m (0.37 miles). It is located between kilometers 32 and 34 of the distance (between miles 19.9 and 21.1).
Entry fee: for US residents - $185, for foreign citizens - $250.
How to participate: This is the only Major series marathon that doesn’t have a lottery. Only sports selection.
- It is necessary to show the result from previous marathon distances that are sufficient for qualification. The requirements differ depending on the age group. If you are a young participant aged 18 to 34, then you need to run 42 km 195 m (26.219 miles) for 3:05:00. For athletes aged 35 to 39 – the time is 3:10:00, aged 40 to 44 - 3:15:00, and runners 45+ need to cover the distance for 3:25:00. Besides, the applicant must meet the time limit only on the AIMS certified route.
- Guaranteed participation is possible due to cooperation with a charity fund, where the mandatory minimum fundraising is $5,000. In this case runners don’t have to meet standard requirements, the registration takes place within a year, until the quota is over.
- There is another way to take part in this marathon, but it is suitable only for US residents: to get one of sponsor places for sponsors, to live in cities or towns along the route or to be a representative of local media.
The marathon in London is held since 1981. It is one of the most prestigious and expected marathons. World records were set four times here. This marathon owns a Guinness world record as the largest annual charity fundraising event. The route passes through world-famous attractions - Tower Bridge, Parliament House, Cutty Sark. It is the only marathon that takes place in the two hemispheres simultaneously - eastern and western. The track crosses the zero meridian in Greenwich.
Next start: April 28, 2019.
Number of participants: 40.000
Route description: it is considered one of the smoothest and fastest in the world. The only altitude change occurs at the beginning of the distance (5 km or 3,1 miles) with a downward slope. The distance is marked by miles and kilometers. Each kilometer is designated by banners on both sides.
Entry fee: for UK residents - £40, for foreigners - £80 (or $110).
How to participate:
- For foreign runners it is better to take part in a lottery. There is no need to be the fastest, you just need some luck.
- You can still run as a charity provider. The minimum charity fundraising is £2000.
- Only UK residents can enter the marathon through qualifying groups.
The marathon in Berlin is held since 1974, but because of the Berlin Wall, the route passed through West Berlin. And only on September 30, 1990, a few days before the unification of Germany, the athletes could finally run through the Brandenburg Gate. In 2005 this event joined the World Marathon Majors League. It is one of the fastest world marathons in the average time of the top ten athletes. Since 2010, Kenyan and Ethiopian men and women rotate top spots of the list.
Next start: September 16, 2018.
Number of participants: 40,000.
Route description: the start is in less than 1.6 km (1 mile) from the finish line, next to the Brandenburg Gate. The altitude difference is practically nonexistent, the track is flat, the asphalt is very even.
Entry fee: €108 euros.
How to participate:
- The most popular way to get to the Berlin marathon is to test fortune in the lottery. In addition to personal participation, you can apply on behalf of a team of 2-3 people. And if the team wins, each participant gets the opportunity to start the race. However, you cannot combine simultaneous participation as a group and as an individual athlete.
- Fastest runners have the guaranteed right to start upon showing their results in any other marathon for the last two years. For the youngest participants aged 18 to 44 the time is 2:45:00 or less, runners aged 45 to 59 - 2:55:00. Men over 60 must overcome the distance for 3:25:00.
- Another sure way is to become a participant is to participate in a charity program. In addition to paying the fee, you undertake to raise a minimum of 900-euro donations for the remaining time before the start.
The Marathon in Chicago was founded in 1905 but is started to be held regularly only in 1977. This marathon is one of the organizers and the oldest member of the AIMS. However, it came out in 2006 and entered the new league of the five World Marathon Majors. Four world records were set here. Since 2003, Kenyan runners take top positions almost all the time. However, in 2012 this tradition was disrupted, and the race was won by Ethiopian male and female participants.
Number of participants: 50 000.
Route description: the track is quite flat and fast. Start and finish are located at the same point. The track passes through 29 city districts and ends in beautiful Grant Park.
Entry fee: for US residents of the United States the fee is $195, for non-residents - $220.
How to participate:
- You can become a marathon pretender through the lottery.
- The guaranteed right is given to:
- Runners who have met the mileage requirements. For men aged 40 to 49, the marathon distance time should be less than 3:25:00, for participants from 30 to 39 years old - 3:15:00, and those aged 16 to 39 – should run for 3:10:00 and less.
- Those who organize charity fundraising from $1,000. Last year more than 10 000 participants on behalf of 170 charity foundations took part in the race.
- Athletes who have completed the Chicago marathon five or more times in the last 10 years.
New York Marathon
Founded in 1970 by the New York City Runners Association, the marathon in New York became one of the most popular marathons in the world. However, the first race didn’t include all 5 city districts: athletes just ran several laps in the Central Park. Since 2006, the marathon joined the World Marathon Majors. It is also awarded with the IAAF gold status. The current record of 51 394 finishers was documented in 2017. For now, about 40% of the participants are foreigners.
Next start: November 4, 2018.
Number of participants: 50 000.
Route description: the track is hilly, passes through five bridge and participants often will have to run uphill for quite a long. The steepest ascend is at the beginning of the route - the suspension bridge of Verrazano-Narrows. The silence on the Queensboro Bridge due to the lack of spectators, coupled with its steep climb, makes it one of the hardest parts of the race.
Entry fee: for residents of New York and the neighborhood - $255, for US residents - $295, and for foreign citizens - $358.
How to participate:
- Through the lottery.
- Through confirming qualifications Organizers can take the results from an international marathon, which route is certified by AIMS. Men aged 18 to 34 years are required to run 42.195 km (26.219 miles) for 2:53:00. Men aged 35 to 39 – for 2:55:00, while for men from 40 to 44 the required result is 2:58:00. Qualifying time here is more stringent than in Boston.
- Be a finisher of 15 New York marathons.
- Participation at NYRR 9+1 gives opportunity to run the marathon. This option is more suitable for locals. Under the terms of the program, it is necessary to complete 9 New York marathons and be a volunteer during the year.
- Through cooperation with charity organizations (raise at least $2,500) or registering for the Team for Kids program.