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Biggest Marathon Majors in the World

Jul 04,2023 | Suitisbest Sport Bands

If you have participated in a marathon before, you probably have heard the six World Marathon Majors. Every year there are over 800 marathons held around the world, but only six of them are called World Marathon Major. And they are Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Berlin Marathon, and New York City Marathon.

These marathons attract both amateur and elite athletes who race 42.195 km through iconic city streets.

Completing all six Marathon Majors earns runners entry into an exclusive club and the coveted Six Star Medal, a goal pursued by ambitious runners worldwide.

The World Marathon Majors have witnessed numerous record-breaking performances. Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge currently holds the men's world record of 2:01:09, achieved at the 2022 Berlin Marathon. Brigid Kosgei of Kenya holds the women's world record of 2:14:04, accomplished at the 2019 Chicago Marathon.

Read on to find out more about the six World Marathon Majors.

  1. London Marathon

As one of the most prestigious and popular marathons in the world, the London Marathon is held in London, United Kingdom annually. The race is known for its large-scale participation, iconic course, and vibrant atmosphere.

Here are some key details about the London Marathon:

History: The London Marathon was first held in 1981 and has since become one of the major marathons globally. It was founded by former Olympic champion Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley.

Course: The race course takes runners through the streets of London, showcasing famous landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and the River Thames. The course is renowned for its spectator support and enthusiastic crowds, creating an incredible atmosphere for participants.

Charity Focus: The London Marathon is known for its strong connection to charitable causes. It is a popular event for runners to raise funds for various charitable organizations, contributing to millions of pounds being raised each year.

Elite Competition: The London Marathon attracts world-class elite runners, and it is part of the prestigious Abbott World Marathon Majors series. The race has witnessed numerous remarkable performances and has been the stage for several world records.

Guinness World Records: The London Marathon holds the Guinness World Record for the largest annual fundraising event in the world. It also hosts various quirky and unique record attempts, with many participants running in costumes or for specific record-breaking feats.

Event Size: The London Marathon is one of the largest marathons globally in terms of participant numbers. Tens of thousands of runners take part in the race each year, including elite athletes, amateur runners, and charity fundraisers.

Timing: The London Marathon traditionally takes place in April, typically on a Sunday. The race starts in Greenwich and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace on The Mall.

The London Marathon offers a unique and unforgettable running experience, combining the challenge of the 26.2-mile distance with the vibrant and diverse backdrop of London's iconic landmarks.

london marathon

  1. The Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest, most prestigious, and iconic marathons in the world. It’s held in Boston, Massachusetts, United States every year.

History: The Boston Marathon was first held in 1897, making it the oldest annual marathon in the world. It is steeped in history and tradition, with a rich legacy spanning over a century.

Qualification: Unlike many marathons, the Boston Marathon has strict qualifying standards that runners must meet in order to participate. These standards are based on age and gender, requiring runners to achieve a qualifying time in a certified marathon.

Route: The race route starts in the town of Hopkinton and finishes on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. It covers a challenging point-to-point course that includes various hills, most notably the infamous Heartbreak Hill around mile 20.

Patriot’s Day: The Boston Marathon is held on the third Monday of April, which coincides with the Massachusetts state holiday known as Patriot’s Day. This holiday commemorates the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

Spectator Support: The Boston Marathon is renowned for its passionate spectator support. The course is lined with enthusiastic crowds who come out to cheer and encourage the runners, creating a festive and electric atmosphere.

Elite Competition: The Boston Marathon attracts elite runners from around the world. As one of the World Marathon Majors, It is highly regarded for its competitive field and historic significance.

Heartbreak Hill: Heartbreak Hill is a challenging incline on the Boston Marathon course, located in Newton, around mile 20 of the race. It’s known for testing the endurance and metal strength of the runners, but also represents a pivotal point where spectators gather to provide crucial support.

Boston Marathon Bombing: The 2013 Boston Marathon was marred by a tragic incident when two bombs exploded near the finish line, resulting in deaths and injuries. The resilience and strength displayed by the city and the running community in the aftermath became an emblematic symbol of unity and determination.

The Boston Marathon holds a special place in the running world, combining its rich history, challenging course, prestigious status, and resilient spirit. It continues to inspire runners and spectators alike, making it an iconic and highly anticipated event each year.

Boston Marathon

  1. Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is a major annual long-distance running event held in Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a series of the six most renowned marathons globally.

History: The Chicago Marathon was first held in 1977 and has since become one of the top marathons in the world. It has a rich history and has grown in popularity, attracting runners from around the globe.

Course: The race course is known for being flat and fast, making it appealing to both elite athletes aiming for fast times and recreational runners seeking a personal best. The course winds through various neighborhoods of Chicago, offering a diverse and vibrant urban backdrop.

Timing: The Chicago Marathon is typically held in October, making it a popular autumn marathon choice for participants. The weather during this time of year in Chicago is usually favorable for running, with cooler temperatures.

Participant Size: The Chicago Marathon is one of the largest marathons in terms of participant numbers. Tens of thousands of runners take part each year, representing a diverse mix of elite athletes, dedicated runners, and charity fundraisers.

Spectator Support: The race enjoys tremendous spectator support, with large crowds lining the course to cheer on the runners. The atmosphere is lively and energetic, contributing to a memorable race experience.

Charity Program: Like many major marathons, the Chicago Marathon has a significant charitable component. It offers participants the opportunity to raise funds for various charitable organizations, contributing to numerous causes and making a positive impact.

Start and Finish: The race starts and finishes in Grant Park, a beautiful urban park located in downtown Chicago. The iconic finish line on Columbus Drive is a memorable sight for both runners and spectators.

Chicago Marathon World Records: The Chicago Marathon has witnessed several notable world record-breaking performances throughout its history. Notably, it has been the site of multiple men's and women's world records, further solidifying its reputation as a fast course.

The Chicago Marathon is highly regarded for its flat and fast course, large-scale participation, and vibrant atmosphere. It continues to attract runners from all levels, providing them with an exciting and memorable marathon experience in the heart of Chicago.

Chicago marathon

  1. Tokyo Marathon

History: The Tokyo Marathon was first held in 2007, and since then, it has gained international recognition and popularity. It was established as a successor to the Tokyo International Marathon, which had been held since 1981.

Course: The race course takes runners through the heart of Tokyo, offering a blend of modern cityspapes and traidtional landmarks. Participants pass by iconic sites such as the Tokyo tower, Imperial Palace, Asakusa Temple, and Tokyo Station. The course highlights the vibrant and diverse character of the city.

Elite Field: The Tokyo Marathon attracts top-tier professional athletes from around the world. Many elite runners choose Tokyo as a platform to showcase their talents and compete for victory. The race has seen impressive performances and has hosted some of the fastest marathon times in history.

Participant Size: The Tokyo Marathon is a highly sought-after event for both elite and amateur runners. It attracts a large number of participants, with tens of thousands of runners taking part each year. The demand to participate often exceeds the available spots, leading to a lottery system for entry.

Spectator Support: The race garners tremendous support from spectators along the course. Tokyo residents and visitors alike come out to cheer on the runners, creating an energetic and lively atmosphere. The enthusiasm of the crowd adds to the overall race experience.

Timing: The Tokyo Marathon is typically held in late February or early March. This timing allows participants to enjoy cool temperatures, making it an ideal period for long-distance running.

Japanese Culture and Hospitality: The Tokyo Marathon showcases the warm hospitality and rich culture of Japan. The organizers and volunteers ensure a well-organized and welcoming event, creating a positive experience for both domestic and international participants.

Tokyo Marathon Expo: Prior to the race, a Tokyo Marathon Expo takes place, offering a range of running-related exhibitions, products, and services. Participants can collect their race packets, explore the latest gear, and engage with the running community.

The Tokyo Marathon is renowned for its fast course, vibrant city backdrop, and well-organized event management. It provides runners with an opportunity to experience the unique charm of Tokyo while challenging themselves in a world-class marathon setting.

Tokyo Marathon

  1. New York City Marathon

History: The New York City Marathon was first held in 1970 and has grown into one of the largest and most popular marathons globally. It is organized by the New York Road Runners(NYRR) and has a rich history spanning over several decades.

Course: The race course takes runners through the five boroughs of New York City - Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Manhattan. Participants start on Staten Island, cross the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and make their way through various neighborhoods before finishing in Central Park in Manhattan.

Participant Size:The New York City Marathon attracts a massive number of participants, with tens of thousands of runners from around the world taking part each year. The diverse field includes elite athletes, dedicated runners, charity fundraisers, and runners of all abilities.

Spectator Support: The race enjoys exceptional spectator support, with millions of people lining the course to cheer on the runners. The city comes alive with energy, creating an electric and festive atmosphere that motivates participants to reach the finish line.

Charity Program: The New York City Marathon has a significant charitable component. Many participants choose to run for charity, raising funds for various causes and organizations. The marathon serves as a platform for runners to make a positive impact and support meaningful initiatives.

TCS New York City Marathon Expo: Prior to the race, a marathon expo is held, where participants can collect their race materials, explore running-related exhibitors, and engage with the running community. It offers a range of products, services, and information for runners.

Marathon Sunday: The New York City Marathon is traditionally held on the first Sunday in November, making it a signature event in the city’s calendar. The race is broadcasted globally, allowing viewers worldwide to witness the excitement and spirit of the marathon.

Iconic Finish: The race culminates with a memorable finish in Central Park. Runners complete their journey with a final push through the park’s scenic paths, surrounded by cheering crowds, before crossing the finish line.

The New York City Marathon represents the spirit of endurance, diversity, and community. It brings together runners from all walks of life to conquer the challenging course while experiencing the vibrant and dynamic cityscape of New York.

new york city marathon

  1. Berlin Marathon

The Berlin Marathon is one of the world’s most renowned and fastest marathons.

History: The Berlin Marathon was first held in 1974 and has since gained a reputation for its fast and flat course. It is organized by SCC Events and has grown in popularity over the years.

Course: The race course takes runners through the streets of Berlin, showcasing iconic landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, and the Berlin Wall. The course is known for its flat profile, making it a favorite among elite runners aiming for fast times and personal records.

World Records: The Berlin Marathon has become synonymous with world records. The race has witnessed multiple record-breaking performances, including the current men's world record set by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya in 2022 with a time of 2:01:09.

Participant Size: The Berlin Marathon attracts a large number of participants from around the world. Tens of thousands of runners, ranging from elite athletes to recreational runners, take part in the race each year.

Spectator Support: The race enjoys enthusiastic spectator support, with crowds lining the course to cheer on the runners. The atmosphere is energetic and supportive, creating a memorable experience for participants.

Timing: The Berlin Marathon is typically held in late September or early October, offering favorable weather conditions for running. The cooler temperatures during this time contribute to the potential for fast race times.

Berlin Vital Expo: Prior to the marathon, the Berlin Vital Expo takes place, offering runners a chance to collect their race materials, explore exhibitors, and discover the latest running products and services.

Berlin Marathon Experience: The Berlin Marathon is renowned for its well-organized event management, efficient logistics, and supportive volunteers. It provides runners with an exceptional marathon experience and the opportunity to run on a course steeped in history.

The Berlin Marathon's combination of a fast course, historic landmarks, and a record-breaking reputation attracts runners from across the globe. It offers a platform for runners to challenge themselves, achieve personal goals, and be part of a marathon with a rich legacy.

Berlin marathon

Preparing for a Marathon

Before signing up for a marathon, it's crucial to conduct thorough research. Proper preparation is key when undertaking such a significant endeavor. If you haven't participated in a marathon before, there are several important factors you should consider. Here is a concise checklist of essential steps to prepare for a marathon:

  1. Consult with a healthcare professional.
  2. Set a realistic goal.
  3. Build a training plan.
  4. Invest in good running shoes.
  5. Follow a nutrition plan.
  6. Incorporate cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or strength training into your routine to strengthen your muscles, and improve overall fitness.
  7. Monitor your progress.

If you intend to participate in a marathon, you should know that training for it is a long-term commitment and it requires you to be very patient. To monitor your progress and health status, consider wearing your Apple Watch during your training session. And find a suitable Apple Watch band to wear to avoid any discomfort when training.

Make sure you know your limits and set a goal that’s not beyond your capabilities and most importantly, enjoy the experience.