Calling out all marathon runner in Asia. As we all know, the Abbott World Marathon Majors is a championship-style competition that consists of six of the following marathons:

  1. Tokyo Marathon
  2. Boston Marathon
  3. BMW Berlin Marathon
  4. TCS New York City Marathon
  5. Virgin Money London Marathon
  6. Bank of America Chicago Marathon

These are considered to be the most challenging marathons in the world and to qualify, it is recommended to first complete a standard marathon course certified by a national governing body in association with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) within a certain set timing before the actual dates of the preferred marathons. On top of that, reputable marathons are given these “Road Race Labels” in order to rank them according to their standards and quality of the race itself.

The IAAF Road Race Label Events are as follows:

  • Tier 1: Gold Labels
  • Tier 2: Silver Labels
  • Tier 3: Bronze Labels

In order to save your search time, we have compiled this list of Asia Marathons you can participate in order to qualify for the World Marathon Majors – Boston Marathon. Only Boston marathon has a qualifying time. For the rest of the 5 marathons of the World Marathon Majors, you can enter via a ballot system or charity place.


Gold Coast Marathon

The Gold Coast Marathon is an annual marathon race that was originally organised to promote health awareness around the Gold Coast area. It eventually blew up and was branded as Australia’s premier road race as it attracts at least 28,000 runners from over 50 countries.

Month: July
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Gold Coast Marathon

Sydney Marathon

The Sydney Marathon is also known as the Sydney Running Festival. It was first held in commemoration of the 2000 summer Olympics which was held in Sydney. The race was awarded a Silver Label Road Race in 2014 and thereafter a Gold Label Road Race from the IAAF just before the race in 2015.

Photo Credit: Blackmores Sydney Running Festival

Month: September
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
IAAF Label Status: Gold


Xiamen International Marathon

The Xiamen International Marathon is famous for its coastal scenic course along the cities of Xiamen. It was one of the most outstanding marathon races of the year as it attracted at least 50,000 entrants in the 2010 edition and at least 70,000 entrants in the 2013 edition.

Month: January
Location: Xiamen, Fujian Province
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Xiamen Marathon

Beijing Marathon

The Beijing Marathon was the very first international sports event to ever be held in China. It was also the first marathon race to make use of a lottery system to allocate entries for participants. As of 2016, the marathon became an only full marathon only race event.

Month: September
Location: Beijing
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Shanghai Marathon

The Shanghai Marathon is branded as China’s top-tier athlete event for its highest price yet highest completion rate. There was a total of 35,000 participants in the various events last years with hundreds and thousands of spectators enjoying the event live.

Month: November
Location: Shanghai
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Shanghai Marathon

Guangzhou Marathon

The Guangzhou Marathon was one of the youngest marathons to ever achieve a Gold Label Road Race within 6 years. The main reason for organising the marathon was to not only promote a healthy lifestyle but also enhance the influence and display the great economic and social achievements of Guangzhou, Guangdong, and China.

Month: December
Location: Guangzhou
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Lanzhou International Marathon

The Lanzhou International Marathon is branded as China’s Best Marathon. Running around Lanzhou’s City and along the Yellow River, the race allows participants to bask in these scenic environments while stimulating the local sense of pride and honour of their city, in which actively converted to speed up the power of urban development, affect the progress of civilization and development.

Month: June
Location: Lanzhou
IAAF Label Status: Bronze

Photo Credit: Lanzhou International Marathon

Hefei International Marathon

The Hafei Marathon is sponsored by China Athletic Association, Anhui Provincial Administration of Sport and the Municipal Government of Hefei while attracting 25,000 participants entries yearly.

Month: November
Location: Hefei, Anhui Province
IAAF Label Status: Bronze

Hong Kong

Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon was awarded the IAAF Gold Label Road Race in 2016 and since then, it has attracted many elite runners around the world. Every runner deserves to enjoy running in the most scenic roads in Hong Kong with the amazing atmosphere.

Month: February
Location: Hong Kong
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon


TATA Mumbai Marathon

Sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), TATA Mumbai Marathon is both the largest marathon in Asia and largest mass participation running event on the continent. It is also the richest race in India with a prize of US$405,000.

Month: January
Location: Mumbai
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: TATA Mumbai Marathon


Tokyo Marathon

The Tokyo Marathon is one of the six World Marathon Majors. Every year, it is able to attract at least 300,000 competitors to apply for the full marathon category and obviously, not everyone gets to take part. Furthermore, the Tokyo Marathon Charity “Run with Heart” program help those who support the Tokyo Marathon to think about social activities which eventually will foster a strong bond with everyone.

Month: March
Location: Tokyo
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Tokyo Marathon

Lake Biwa Marathon

The Lake Biwa Marathon is the oldest running marathon in Japan. It was originally held in Osaka before moving over to Otsu City, which is home to Japan’s oldest and largest lake, Lake Biwa. Ever since then, it has been renamed as the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon where only male competitors are allowed to compete in.

Month: March
Location: Otsu, Shiga Prefecture
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Nagoya Women’s Marathon

The Nagoya Women’s Marathon was named as Nagoya International Women’s Marathon until 2010. The race consists of the classic full marathon distance where only female competitors are allowed to compete in. It has also consecutively broken the world record for most amount of female participants in an event.

Month: March
Location: Nagoya, Chubu Region
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Fukuoka Marathon

The Fukuoka Marathon takes a unique perspective by setting the routes from Fukuoka to Itoshima. Being the tenth longest-running marathon in the history, the organisers had always hoped that the runners are able to fully experience the wonderful vibe of both cities while running.

Month: December
Location: Fukuoka
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: 福岡マラソン

Osaka Women’s Marathon

The Osaka Women’s Marathon is yet another annual marathon where only female competitors are allowed to compete over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres. However, the half marathon category is open regardless of gender while running alongside the women’s marathon.

Month: January
Location: Osaka
IAAF Label Status: Silver

Beppu-Ōita Marathon

The Beppu-Ōita Marathon is formally known as the Beppu-Ōita Mainichi Marathon. It is another annual marathon where only male competitors are allowed to participate. The race attracts around 500 entrants yearly of which two-third finishes the race.

Month: February
Location: Beppu & Ōita
IAAF Label Status: Silver

Nagano Marathon

The Nagano Marathon have races for both amateurs and elite runner as the course has a point-to-point style which includes four of the former Olympic venues into the race. The marathon was named in honour of the 1998 Winter Olympics which was held in Nagano.

Month: April
Location: Nagano
IAAF Label Status: Bronze

Photo Credit: Nagano Marathon

Saitama International Marathon

The Saitama International Marathon adds to the list of women’s marathons. The first marathon race was held as the selection race for Japan women’s marathon representatives for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro back in 2016.

Month: November
Location: Saitama
IAAF Label Status: Silver

Kobe Marathon

The Kobe Marathon is more than just running for oneself but for the people. The event organised was to express gratitude to the people and regions, local and overseas, who reached out to Hyogo and Kobe right from the recovery from the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and on up to the present day. Additionally, it has a stone momentum to commemorate the first ever marathon held in Japan.

Month: November
Location: Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture
IAAF Label Status: Bronze

Photo Credit: Kobe Marathon


Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

The Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon has bid to join six of the World Marathon Majors and has been recognised as a Gold Label Road Race event by the IAAF since 2012 with its world-class excellence in global sporting significance, high organisational quality, athletes’ safety and compliance with the IAAF Rules and Regulations. The race has been one of the most popular in the region while attracting an average of 50,000 runners yearly.

Month: December
Location: Singapore
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

South Korea

Seoul International Marathon

The Seoul International Marathon is the only marathon in South Korea to ever be awarded with a Gold Label Road Race status. It is the third longest-running road running competition in Asia.

Month: March
Location: Seoul
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Daegu Marathon

The Daegu Marathon is a comparatively fast course which hosted the World Championships Marathon back in September 2011. It also features a 5K and 10K event for runners who are interested.

Month: April
Location: Daegu
IAAF Label Status: Silver


New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon

The New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon is the first and only one IAAF Silver Label Road Race in Taiwan.

Month: March
Location: New Taipei City, Northern Taiwan
IAAF Label Status: Silver

Photo Credit: 新北市萬金石馬拉松

United Arab Emirates

Dubai Marathon

The Dubai Marathon official name is Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

Month: January
Location: Dubai
IAAF Label Status: Gold

Photo Credit: Dubai Marathon


Techcombank Ho Chi Minh City International Marathon

The Techcombank Ho Chi Minh City International Marathon follows a route of historical key landmarks before finishing with vantage points to view one of the most dynamic cities in the world in Southeast Asia.

Month: December
Location: Ho Chi Minh City

Photo Credit: Techcombank Ho Chi Minh City International Marathon

Halong Bay Heritage Marathon

The Halong Bay Heritage Marathon offers runners a unique opportunity to view the breathtaking attractions of one beautiful World Heritage, the magnificent landscape of Halong Bay. The race has been designed to run over Bai Chay Bridge, the longest single span bridge in Southeast Asia, to provide a spectacular view from above over the Bay.

Month: November
Location: Thành phố Hạ Long, Northeast Vietnam

Which other qualifying races do you think should be included in this list? Will you be challenging yourself and attempt to qualify for the WMM? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Update, 9 January 2019: Only Boston marathon has a qualifying time. For the rest of the 5 marathons of the World Marathon Majors, you can enter via a ballot system or charity place.

Cherment Tay

What used to be a couch potato, now an active sports person. A person that enjoys all kinds of sports, especially Ultimate Frisbee. Running constantly on the weekends to keep himself fit as a fiddle.

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