The World Marathon Majors were announced 4 years ago, and is meant to be the equivalent to the Grand Slam in golf or tennis. The Majors are on a 2-year overlapping schedule, with points going to the top 5 runners in each of the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City Marathons. The Olympic Games and World Championship Marathons also score towards the Majors. After the second year, a $1 million prize was split between the male and female winners every year based on the results of each 2 year cycle.
The problem, of course, is that unlike golf or tennis, it is very unlikely that somebody will run all 5 races in a single year. Realistically, they won’t even run all 5 in a 2 year cycle.
As a point of fact, you can not score in more than 4 races per 2 year cycle and only need to run 1 race per year to be eligible, so running more than 2 races per year only makes a difference if you find yourself in a tie-breaker situation.
As Peter Gambaccini mentioned in a recent editorial at Runner’s World, the World Marathon Majors gets almost no attention. Almost the entire running community, both participants and runners, focuses on the individual races themselves. There is very little discussed about the World Marathon Majors as a whole.
I think that a large problem with the series has to do with the scoring. It actively promotes sticking to a limit of 2 races per year and only requires 1 race each year. I don’t think that an ambitious runner who can run well more frequently than a few times a year should be punished. I also think that each individual race should only count once in each 2 year cycle to encourage athletes to compete on different courses.
I am happy that the world championships and the Olympics are included in the years that they are held, because those races not only move around the planet but are also the stage on which the best athletes will ideally compete in an already established forum to see who is best.
What I don’t like is how the 5 annual races are the same every year.
Don’t get me wrong; all 5 of the annual marathons are great races. However, there are also plenty of other great marathons throughout the world that I think could host a marathon majors event and give different fans a chance to come out and experience the race.
When I first heard about the series 4 years ago, I mentioned that I hoped that the series would branch out to different races every year.
I really want the majors to succeed, and I think that it has done well enough to warrant not getting scrapped just yet as Gambacinni is calling for. I’ve personally enjoyed checking out the rankings a few times per year, despite the relative lack of media coverage.
There is definitely some room for improvement, though.
What are you thoughts? Are the World Marathon Majors successful as the series stands, do you think that some changes are in order, or do you think that it’s been a failure and should be scrapped?
Let me know your opinion by leaving a comment below.