Are you a hopeless name dropper? Do you sidle up to people at parties and when asked what you do in your spare time, do you long to tell them, “Well, I’m off for London, Berlin and New York City in 2018”? You can make that statement and add Boston, Tokyo, and Chicago to your list if you decide to take the challenge of the decade by taking part in the Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMM). This dynamic series is guaranteed to fill your 2018 calendar with exciting memories, so perhaps a second pair of running shoes is in order!

About the sponsor

Don’t know much about Abbott Laboratories? You should. Launched in 1888 by Chicago physician Wallace Calvin Abbott, Abbott and spin-off Abbvie is pharmaceutical giants specialising in the discovery and formulation of research-based drugs, devices, and nutritional products. As a runner, you may even take supplements made by this firm.

Abbott’s focus on HIV, cancer, heart disease, hepatitis, and metabolic disorders is legendary. In 1985, the firm developed the first HIV blood-screening test. But Abbott isn’t just about treating and medicating illnesses; the company also promotes healthy living, advocating for health benefits delivered by running and marathon participation. Whether you run one or each one in the WMM series, being part of this series makes you part of the history of the sport you love.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Why all of the excitement?

For starters, when last did you hear of a series of world-renowned marathons being run under the same umbrella? Be part of the excitement and get your passport ready because qualifying events will be held in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Tokyo in addition to IAAF and Olympic/Paralympic locations.

Athletes from all walks of life can enter in their preferred categories and amass points based on where they finish each race. Once all of the dust settles, one fabulous male runner and an equally amazing female runner will split the top prize of a cool US$1 million.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on this series since its inception in 2006, you know that the Abbott WMM Series became an annual event in 2015 and when Series X flagged off at the 2016 Boston Marathon, organisers were excited to announce another point system for wheelchair competitors that came with a US$100,000 prize purse.

Photo Credit: 123RF

Not the best math student in class?

You don’t have to be a math whizz to figure out the Abbott WMM point collection formula; organisers have come up with a simple scale: Arrive in first place at any event and snag 25 points. Come in second and you earn 16 points. A third-place finish adds 9 points, fourth place adds 4 points and you can add 1 point for a 5th place finish. Aim high, say race organisers who note, “The maximum points that can be scored in any race by an age-group winner is 4,000.”

Your job is to score the greatest number of points your body can amass in at least two events in the series because each athlete’s two high finishes are scored. Same goes for Paralympic and World Championship events. Need more detail? Visit

What 8 races make up the Abbott World Marathon Majors?

  1. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the 3rd most popular event of its kind. It’s staged every October and participants race through the streets of Chicago to the cheers of endless numbers of spectators.
  2. The BMW Berlin Marathon takes place every September, just when the nation’s popular Oktoberfest is being held from one end of Germany to another. Finish with respectable numbers and participants could lift a beer stein in your honour.
  3. The Boston Marathon always takes place in April and on Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts. While some recall the tragedy that took place a few years ago when bombs were set off, that memory is fading and Boston continues to be known as the most famous race in the world.
  4. The Virgin Money London Marathon also takes place in April, so if you intend to do both, you’d better make your arrangements early so you don’t run into scheduling problems. This London race is a must for UK runners eager to qualify for the WMM who love the fact that it’s one of the five series “founding marathons.”
  5. TCS New York City Marathon. The sponsor may have changed since this race’s inception in 2012, but enthusiasm hasn’t. One cancellation due to Hurricane Sandy’s coastal destruction is the only time New York has missed holding this marathon on the first Sunday in November.
  6. The Tokyo Marathon takes place every February but Japanese runners face a tough field annually since Kenyans and Ethiopians show up in numbers to show off their speed. Launched in 2006, Tokyo has most-favoured status with runners on the Pacific Rim.
  7. The IAAF World Championships aren’t as predictable as the aforementioned six because it’s only held during odd-number years and venues change. London was home to the 2017 IAAFs, Qatar is on deck for 2019 and if you’re a long-range planner, start looking at Eugene, Oregon, the U.S. city destined to host in 2021.
  8. The Olympic Games. As the 8th WMM qualifier, there’s even a longer stretch of time between summer Olympics where track and field events are run every four years and during leap years.
Photo Credit: 123RF

Why is this series considered a jewel in the crown of international running?

Having one’s signature marathon considered as part of this series isn’t just important; it’s also prestigious and represents high achievement since so many organisers compete for inclusion. Here in Singapore, the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon has been going through the machinations of selection as the AbbottWMM/Wanda consortium seeks to add marathons in both Asia and Africa. From our viewpoint, Singapore doesn’t just belong on this list–our national enthusiasm makes it a stand-out candidate.

“We know that for any race to become an Abbott World Marathon Major, there has to be a strong alliance and desire to succeed from the government, emergency services and event organisers,” said Tim Hadzima, general manager of AbbottWMM. “The benchmark for any race to join the Series is high and the extensive feedback we gave shows the extent of the improvement required and the cooperation needed from all parties involved for Singapore to reach AbbottWMM standards.”

Become part of this historic series

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that your participation in this daunting series gives you both bragging rights and cred. You’ll compete with the best runners on the world stage. Show your family, friends, and colleagues that you’re willing to do what it takes to deliver your best performance. And your participation says plenty about your personal anti-doping stance (Abbott SWMM organisers are committed to taking a stand on this important issue). Your reputation as an athlete will soar. Oh, and there’s that million dollars waiting to be claimed!

To add more incentive to your decision to run, organisers will debut an initiative called the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Rankings in September 2018. Men and women from age 40 to 80+ are invited to run in their age categories. Work hard and you could find yourself participating in the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Championships in the spring of 2020.

Can we count you in?

Until a decision is made to include or put off the inclusion of Singapore’s Standard Chartered Marathon, participating in the existing 8 events is a great way to become initiated. You’ve got lots of notice to get into shape so consider this article your personal challenge to get in on the action.

As of 15 November, the roster of qualifying races to start accruing those points has grown to 11 events that stretch from 16 September 2018 to 29 September 2019. This is no flash-in-the-pan series, either. 2019 dates are already being firmed up, so consider 2018 your WMM debut!

What do you think about the multi-layered scoring and point acquisition system associated with this series? Is it easy to understand or too complex?

Liam Cayton

Liam is a competitive triathlete who have competed in more than 50 races around the world. He is an expert in performance coaching and holds a master's degree in applied sport and exercise psychology. He began training for his first marathon after graduating from college. As an accredited triathlon coach, he wished to share his journey of pushing over the limits. Furthermore, he is a statistician specialised in the Sports statistics and analytics.

Comments are closed.

Exit mobile version