As the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon approaches, a select group of runners are preparing to join an elite club of marathoners. You see, the TCS New York City Marathon is the final race in 2019 for runners to complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors series and earn their Six Star Finisher status.
The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a race series that was established in 2006. It consists of six big-city marathons around the world, the other five being the Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Jim Heim, race director of the TCS New York City Marathon and NYRR’s SVP of event development and production, sees each of these races as part of a bigger picture in their respective cities. “The magic of all of our events is the history, the legacy, and the community buy-in. There is real magic in all of these marathons because they are woven into the fabric of the culture of these cities,” he said during a panel discussion that featured prominent people and race directors from each World Major.
For runners completing the Six Star Series this November in New York, a very special medal will be waiting for them at the finish line—a unique memento that matches the enormity of their accomplishment.
Completing all six of the Abbott World Majors is more than just running six marathons. It is a process that takes years of hard work, dedication, passion, and just a little bit of luck. To understand why people push themselves to such lengths for this program is really to understand why people run marathons at all. Tom Grilk, CEO of the Boston Athletic Association, has had many years of insight into the mind of a marathon runner.
“Why is it that people do a marathon? They go out to prove something to themselves. That is the aspiration that carries over [into the Six Star program]. Well, if I can do one, can I do them all?” Grilk said.
Runners who decide to take on this challenge start on a journey of personal achievement that will bring them into contact with other like-minded athletes and great displays of strength and the human spirit around the world. The Majors bring people together, runners and non-runners alike, to support and encourage one another. “What is great about the sport of marathon running is it unites communities,” said Hugh Brasher, the race director of the Virgin Money London Marathon. “It unites them in a way that no matter what is going on in the world, the communities of London, New York, Berlin, Chicago, Tokyo, and Boston will come out to support the runners, the everyday athletes, in this endeavor of running 26.2 miles.”
The World Marathon Majors are for everyone who is willing to put in the work, not just the pros. They are for people who run for the love of the sport, and who want to push themselves to the highest level they can reach.
And the Six Star Program has become a celebration of those everyday runners and the people who support it.
So, this November, if you see someone walking around New York with that enormous medal around their neck—in addition to their TCS New York City Marathon finisher medal—you know that they have accomplished one of the greatest feats in the running world.