Abbott World Marathon races

How does a regular marathon become a World Major Marathon?

In order to become a Major, a race needs to meet a strict set of criteria to join the club. “We’re not just talking about number of aid stations, but how long the tables are, how many cups there are, and so on,” says Tim Hadzima, executive director at Abbott World Marathon Majors. “The criteria are very specific and meant to cover every aspect of the race.” That means, when you run one of these races, you can expect a very high level of organization and professionalism.

When is each race?

Each race is generally held on the same weekend each year, with the exception of 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, races typically held in the spring (Tokyo, Boston, and London) have been pushed to the fall, creating what will be an incredible few weeks of marathon racing.

  • Boston: The third Monday in April // October 11, 2021
  • London: The last Sunday in April // October 3, 2021
  • Berlin: The last Sunday in September // September 26, 2021
  • Chicago: The Sunday of Columbus Day weekend // October 10, 2021
  • New York City: The first Sunday in November // November 7, 2021

How do you qualify and register for each race?

Each World Marathon Major has its own set of qualification standards, but even if you don’t meet them, you still have options to get your bib. All of the races have a random lottery, and you can run each race with a charity partner — while running with a charity is a popular option, you will likely be required to reach a fundraising minimum (specifics vary, so check out each race’s website for more). You can also run with a tour group like Marathon Tours & Travel, which guarantees entry and coordinates logistics.



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