What Are The Marathon Majors

As a runner and a fan of long-distance running, I have always been intrigued by marathon majors. These are the most prestigious and sought-after marathon races in the world, attracting elite runners from all corners of the globe. In this article, I will delve deep into what marathon majors are, their significance, and why they hold a special place in the hearts of runners.

What are Marathon Majors?

Marathon majors refer to the six most renowned and celebrated marathon races in the world. These races are held annually and are considered the pinnacle of marathon running. They are:

  • Boston Marathon
  • New York City Marathon
  • Berlin Marathon
  • Chicago Marathon
  • Tokyo Marathon
  • London Marathon

Each marathon major has its own unique history, course, and atmosphere, but they all share a common goal – to challenge and inspire runners to push their limits. These races are not only about achieving personal bests but also about experiencing the thrill of running alongside top athletes and being part of a global running community.

Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon, often referred to as the “granddaddy of all marathons,” holds a special place in the hearts of runners. It is the oldest annual marathon in the world, first held in 1897, and takes place on the third Monday of April, also known as “Patriots’ Day” in Massachusetts. The race is known for its challenging course, including the infamous Heartbreak Hill. Qualifying to run in the Boston Marathon is a prestigious achievement for runners.

New York City Marathon

The New York City Marathon is one of the largest and most iconic marathons, with over 50,000 participants from around the world. The race starts on Staten Island and winds its way through the five boroughs of New York City, finishing in Central Park. The vibrant atmosphere and incredible crowd support make this marathon a truly unforgettable experience.

Berlin Marathon

The Berlin Marathon is known for its fast and flat course, making it a favorite among elite runners aiming to set new world records. The race takes place in the streets of Berlin and showcases the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Marathon has witnessed several record-breaking performances over the years, cementing its status as a must-run race for serious runners.

Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is renowned for its flat and fast course, making it a popular choice for runners aiming to achieve personal bests. The race starts and finishes in Grant Park, taking participants through the city’s diverse neighborhoods and along the scenic Lake Michigan. The enthusiastic crowd support and the festive atmosphere make the Chicago Marathon a favorite among both elite and amateur runners.

Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is the newest addition to the marathon majors, having been established in 2007. It has quickly gained popularity and attracts a large number of international participants. The race showcases the vibrant cityscape of Tokyo, with runners passing by iconic landmarks such as the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Marathon provides a unique cultural experience, combining Japanese efficiency with the excitement of a major international race.

London Marathon

The London Marathon is known for its energetic crowd support, festive atmosphere, and iconic course. The race starts in Greenwich Park, crosses Tower Bridge, and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace. It is also famous for its celebrity participants and charitable fundraising efforts. The London Marathon is an event that truly captures the spirit of community and camaraderie among runners.

Why are Marathon Majors Significant?

Marathon majors are significant for several reasons. Firstly, they provide a platform for elite runners to showcase their talent and compete against the best in the world. The top athletes in marathon running often target these races to chase world records and make their mark in history. Secondly, marathon majors inspire and motivate amateur runners to push their own boundaries and strive for personal achievements. Many runners dream of participating in at least one marathon major during their running journey.

Furthermore, marathon majors bring together a global running community. Runners from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds come together to celebrate the sport they love. The camaraderie and support among participants create an electric atmosphere, making these races memorable for both runners and spectators alike.


Marathon majors represent the pinnacle of marathon running. They attract the best athletes in the world, inspire amateurs to push their limits, and bring together a global community of runners. Whether it’s the challenging course of the Boston Marathon, the vibrant atmosphere of the New York City Marathon, or the iconic landmarks of the Berlin, Chicago, Tokyo, and London Marathons, these races offer a unique experience for every runner.

As a runner, participating in a marathon major is a dream of mine. The dedication, training, and determination required to reach the starting line of one of these races is immense. So, lace up your running shoes, set your goals, and chase the dream of conquering a marathon major. The journey will be challenging, but the reward will be immeasurable.