AlertEarn your +1 before time runs out! Ensure your entry into the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon by volunteering now.

$1M Battle is Coming Down to NYC Finish Line

October 14, 2013 at 12:00pm EST | by Barbara Huebner and Sam Grotewold, Marathon News Service

Every runner in the ING New York City Marathon will have something at stake, whether reaching their goal of winning the race or just finishing it. But only four athletes will have a share of $1 million and the World Marathon Majors title on the line.

In the men’s race, Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda and late entry Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia will duke it out to claim the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors crown for the men, while Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo, both of Kenya, will face off on the women’s side as the big-money finish comes down to a high-stakes race-within-a-race in NYC.

Five big-city marathons—in London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago, and New York—plus the Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships make up the 2012-2013 World Marathon Majors series, in which professional athletes vie for points over a two-season cycle leading to a grand, winner-take-all prize of $500,000 for the top man and top woman. Results from the Tokyo Marathon, which joined the group this year, will begin to count for the prize in the 2013-2014 series.

Including ING New York City prize money, the top athletes on November 3 could take home more than $750,000 each.

For the men, the jackpot comes down solely to the outcome on the streets of NYC: either Kiprotich, the reigning Olympic and World champion, or Kebede, winner of the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and 2013 Virgin Money London Marathon, will run away with the top prize. Kebede is in the driver’s seat, leading the series with 65 points, with Kiprotich in third with 50. But it will be a high-speed chase game nonetheless.

The scenarios:

If Kebede finishes first or second in NYC and beats Kiprotich, Kebede will win WMM.

  • If Kiprotich wins and Kebede finishes third or lower, Kiprotich will win WMM
  • If Kiprotich wins and Kebede finishes second, Kiprotich will win on head-to-head tiebreak
  • If Kiprotich finishes second and Kebede scores no points, Kiprotich will win on tiebreak

Kebede finished third in the 2011 ING New York City Marathon. This will be Kiprotich’s debut. In head-to-head competition, Kebede handily beat Kiprotich in perfect weather in London this April, but Kiprotich returned the favor at the warm and humid World Championships in August, where he outlasted the fourth-place Kebede by nearly a minute.

On the women’s side, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya vaulted into the WMM yesterday with her victory in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but either Kiplagat, the two-time IAAF World Champion and winner of the 2010 ING New York City Marathon, or Priscah Jeptoo, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2013 London winner, can better her total of 65 points under the right—but challenging—circumstances in NYC.

The scenarios:

  • For Priscah Jeptoo, it’s all or nothing: She must cross the finish line first in NYC to win a share of the $1 million.
  • Kiplagat must finish first or second and beat Priscah Jeptoo to win the WMM title outright.
  • If Priscah Jeptoo finishes second and/or Kiplagat finishes third, both athletes/all three athletes will be tied with 65 points. The head-to-head tiebreak isn't applicable, so Rita Jeptoo would win the WMM crown.

History is of little help in calling this head-to-head battle: Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo have an even 2-2 lifetime record against each other over the marathon distance, although Jeptoo has taken the last two meetings—at the Olympic Games and in London last April.

For a closer look at the WMM leaderboard, click here.