With a new title sponsor in place, the World Marathon Majors is making some changes in structure.
The new format begins this weekend at the Tokyo Marathon, which will kick off the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series IX. This edition of the series will include all of the 2015 races—Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City—plus next year’s Tokyo Marathon, as well. Series X will then start in April 2016 at the Boston Marathon and finish with the 2017 Boston Marathon. Series X will be a little different as it will also include the 2016 Olympics marathon in Rio.
In the past, the placement in four major marathons over a two-year period counted toward a runner’s overall score, with the men’s and women’s winner each receiving $500,000. Under the new format, the point system will count a runner’s highest two finishes in the one-year (plus one race) cycle. Runners get 25 points for a first-place finish, 16 points for second, 9 points for third, 4 points for fourth and 1 point for fifth place.
In addition to the format change, the series also announced new regulations dealing with anti-doping efforts, no doubt fueled in part by Rita Jeptoo’s positive doping test announced just before she was to accept the $500,000 prize for winning the major last fall. The series will work with the IAAF to create a pool of championship-eligible runners to undergo additional out-of-competition drug testing (more details will be announced at a later date). In addition, the $500,000 prize will be awarded over the course of five years rather than one initial lump sum payment, a way to “take advantage of long-term biological mapping of athletes.”
FURTHER READING: World Marathon Majors