With the autumn marathon season about to begin, seven athletes—four men and three women—are still in contention for the 2011–2012 World Marathon Majors men’s and women’s titles. After the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon the next week, October 7, the winners will be crowned after the ING New York City Marathon on November 4.
The current World Marathon Majors 2011–2012 leader is the fastest runner in history, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, and his fate is entirely in his own hands. In Berlin on Sunday, he will attempt not only to break the certified-course world-record time of 2:03:38 set there last year by his countryman Patrick Makau, but also to wrap up the WWM title and its $500,000 prize.
Mutai, with 50 points, is leading the field by 10 points, with Kenyans Wesley Korir, defending WWM champion Emmanuel Mutai, Abel Kirui, and Moses Mosop in a four-way tie for second with 40 points each.
Korir will be running in Chicago, and Mosop will compete in New York. If Geoffrey Mutai wins in Berlin, the 25 points that come with the victory will put the crown out of reach. If he finishes as runner-up, Korir and Mosop would have the chance to tie with a victory in Chicago or New York, respectively, but Mutai would still prevail on the basis of head-to-head results. Should Mutai place third or lower, however, Korir and Mosop will be in the hunt to win it all.
Emmanuel Mutai ran the London Olympic Marathon, placing 17th, and Kirui won the silver medal. Neither is expected to run a fall marathon. The man who won the Olympic bronze medal, Wilson Kipsang of Kenya, has 35 points and expects to be on the starting line in New York, where a win would give him 60 total points, but he is not eligible for the 2011–2012 title because he did not compete in a WMM race in 2011.
The women’s race is down to three contenders, with the current leader watching anxiously from the sidelines: Mary Keitany of Kenya, with 65 points, is in the lead by 15 points but is not racing this fall, leaving the door open for two of her compatriots. (While a fourth consecutive victory in Chicago by Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova would give her the same number of points as Keitany, the latter would prevail based on a better head-to-head record.)
So, the battle for the women’s WWM crown and the $500,000 that goes along with it will be fought on the streets of New York City, where Kenyans Edna Kiplagat, with 50 points, and Sharon Cherop, with 45, will do battle. For either woman to win the WWM title, she needs to break the tape. Although a second-place finish would move Kiplagat into a tie with Keitany for the lead (assuming that Cherop finishes no better than third), Keitany would again prevail based on head-to-head results.
WMM series points earned in 2012 will also count toward the 2012–2013 series championship. Athletes are awarded points for finishing in the top five of WWM races (Boston Marathon, Virgin London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and ING New York City Marathon), with 25 points for first, 15 for second, 10 for third, 5 for fourth and 1 for fifth. A maximum of four events can be counted in a two-year period.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg