The Big 6 – Worlds Largest and Most Renowned Marathons
Every runner has a race on their bucket list, but if you want to become an Abbott World Marathon Majors six-star finisher, you have six: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. All of these races have a notable history and undeniable energy,
Here are the dates for each marathon.
Tokyo: Sunday 6th March 2022
Boston: Monday 18th April 2022
London: Sunday 2nd October 2022
Berlin: Sunday 25th September 2022
Chicago: Sunday 9th October 2022
New York City: Sunday 6th November 2022
Tokyo: Registration typically continues through August. If you’re a speedy runner, you might be able to take advantage of Tokyo’s “semi-elite entry,” also known as their Run As One program for international runners. For men, you have to finish a marathon between 2:21:01 and 2:45:00, and for women, that means 2:52:01 to 3:30:00 (there are no age groups, but faster runners get preference).
Boston: Runners have to run a Boston-qualifying (BQ) time at another marathon within a specific time frame—but running a BQ time doesn’t automatically qualify you for an entry. Registration opens in September, with those who qualify by 20 minutes or more getting first dibs. From there, registration rolls out to runners who qualify by ten minutes or more, then five minutes or more, until the field has been filled. In 2021, you had to be 7:47 faster than the qualifying time for your age and gender to earn a spot. If you don’t earn entry, you’ll need to go through a charity or tour group.
London: International runners can’t qualify with fast times, so it’s all about the lottery for Americans. The applications are between April and May, and then you can find out if you’re one of the lucky few in October. Apparently the chances of earning an entry via the London lottery is in the single-digits.
Berlin: Registration begins mid-October and goes through early November. If you qualify, congrats! You’re guaranteed a bib. If you didn’t, you still have a shot at the lottery, which is less competitive than London but still increasingly popular given the historic, PR-friendly course.
Chicago: Registration details aren’t announced until race weekend, but in years past, you’d apply for the lottery starting in October, then find out in December. You’re guaranteed entry if you already ran the race five or more times over the last decade.
New York City: If you didn’t qualify within the time standards, you can apply to the randomized drawing that usually begins mid-January and goes through mid-February. If you live in the New York City area, consider the 9+1 program: Become a New York Road Runners (NYRR) member starting in January the year before the marathon, then run nine official NYRR races and volunteer once over the course of the year. And if you finished 15 or more New York City Marathons, you now have entry for life (but, FYI, older races are grandfathered into the Abbotts medal requirement).
Of course each course has its own highs and lows, with Boston and New York being the most geographically challenging, London being crowded and with plenty of 90-degree turns and Tokio’s possible weather disadvantages. Berlin and Chicago, instead, are notoriously flat and fast. Whichever you decide it is going to be an unforgettable experience that could motivate you to try to finish all of them and be in the company of the best runners in the world.
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