The World Marathon Majors (for slow runners)

There are currently 6 Marathon Majors: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. These 6 marathons do not only matter for elite runners, but also for everyday runners. Many runners (including me) dream about running all of them and becoming Six Star Finishers, because lets be honest, who doesn’t want that awesome medal?!


Currently there are less than 3000 Six Star Finishers, which isn’t that much if you consider that every year these 6 marathons together have over 230,000 finishers. But if you’re a slow runner (like me), you might think you’ll never become a Six Star Finisher, because you can’t run the qualifying times or good for age times for these marathons.

If that’s the case: think again! I’ve looked at the results of the roughly 2500 Six Star Finishers and 86 of them had one or more finishing times of 6+ hours. And if you think you can only run Boston if you’re really fast: I’ve found at least 10 people (who have finished all 6) who took over 6 hours to finish Boston. There is also the rumour that you have to finish all 6 races within a 10 year time period: also not true. You can take as long as you need (although in the future, more marathons will be added to the World Marathon Majors and it’s a bit unclear how it will work then).

You can find all the Six Star Finishers online with their finishing times, but unfortunately there is hardly any other information available. Less than 3000 finishers isn’t a lot, and there’s a chance that I might be the first heart patient to become a Six Star Finisher (if I do finish them all), but there is no way of proving that.

So far, I’ve run 1 out of 6, since I ran Berlin last year. Plan is to run the remaining 5 in the next few years (but I’m not sure how realistic that goal is). And with that goal in mind I’ve designed my own tote bag depicting all 6 cities.


So no, it isn’t impossible if you’re a slow runner, although it does help if you’re a fast runner, because it makes it a bit easier to get into some of the marathons. But how do you get in? For all six it is possible to go with a travel organisation (although that can become quite expensive), but that isn’t your only option.




When: End of February/beginning of March

Finishers 2017: 33.974

Time limit: 7 hours (gun time)

Entry fee: About €100 (Oversees, depending on the exchange rate)

Options: Charity programmes, qualifying time, tour operator or lottery.

Lottery: Opens in August, you have about 10% chance to get in.




When: Third Monday in April (Patriot’s Day)

Finishers 2017: 26.400

Time limit: 6 hours (oh the irony!)

Entry fee: $250 (oversees)

Options: Qualify (qualifying times vary from year to year and even if you run a qualifying time it is still possible that you don’t get accepted if too many people run a BQ time. About 10-12% of runners is able to BQ), charity (few places), tour operator (limited).




When: Second half of April

Finishers 2017: 39.512

Time limit: 8 hours

Entry fee: £80 (oversees)

Options: Charity, good for age (only for UK residents), tour operator and lottery.

Lottery: Ballot opens in May, but you don’t find out until October if you got a place or not.  You have around 5% to get in through the ballot. (Which is roughly the same acceptance rate as Harvard University.)




When: End of September

Finishers 2017: 39.234 (I was one of them)

Time limit: 6:15

Entry fee: €108

Options: Charity, qualify as a fast runner, tour operator and lottery.

Lottery: Opens in October. You have around 50% chance of getting in.




When: Beginning of October

Finishers 2017: 44.341

Time limit: 6:30 hours.

Entry fee: $220 (oversees)

Options: Charity, qualify, tour operator and lottery.

Lottery: Opens in October. You have roughly a 50% chance of getting in.


New York


When: Beginning of November

Finishers 2017: 50.646

Time limit: 6:30 hours for the sweeper bus, but you can continu after that. I’ve seen finishing times of 9 or 10 hours.

Entry fee: $358 (oversees)

Options: Charity, qualify, tour operator and lottery.

Lottery: Opens in January. You have about a 17% chance of getting in.






4 thoughts on “The World Marathon Majors (for slow runners)

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  1. I am thinking about trying to complete each of the majors. I need London and Tokyo. Just did Berlin in 2017 and loved it. London is very tough to get in! Not sure if I want to spend the money to get in a tour group.

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