Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yes, We Are a Major Sport -- Here's Proof

Frankly, we are in a sport that is indeed major and needs more support from fans and media. But it has come a long way since back in the day. The evolution of the World Marathon Majors circuit (Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York, Olympics, World Championships) has created a PGA-NASCAR stable of runners, which is good for competition and exposure. At any rate, things get going this weekend with the Berlin Marathon. Chicago waits in the on-deck circle. Here is the latest WMM release with all the pertinent information.

World Marathon Majors Series Resumes with
$1 Million Prize Purse to be Claimed
Stellar fields will compete at remaining 2010 WMM Races

A-to-head battle for the World Marathon Majors series crown between Samuel Wanjiru and Tesgaye Kebede at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon next month and the first appearance of world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie at the ING New York City Marathon in November highlight the Fall World Marathon Majors campaign that kicks off in Berlin this Sunday. The real,- Berlin Marathon resumes the series on Sunday, September 26, followed by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 10 and will conclude with the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7.

Runners have already earned points (25 points for first place, 15 for second, 10 for third, 5 for fourth, and 1 for fifth) for top-five finishes in April’s B.A.A. Boston Marathon and Virgin London Marathon, as well as top-five finishers in each of the five marathons in 2009, and at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in 2009. Men’s and women’s winners of the series will share a $1 million prize purse.

Wanjiru and Kebede currently share the lead in the men’s series with 50 points apiece, while Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova leads the women’s field with 60 points, with Germany’s Irina Mikitenko second with 40 points. All four will race in Chicago, along with who currently sits in sixth place wiRobert Kiprono Cheruiyot th 26 points. While the titles are likely to be decided in Chicago, Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai could come from behind if both Kebede and Wanjiru finish third or lower in Chicago and Mutai wins in New York. Salina Kosgei, who will toe the line in New York, is the only woman besides Mikitenko with enough points to potentially defeat Shobukhova.

Each of the three fall WMM events will host an impressive elite field. At Berlin, seven men have run faster than 2:07, and three under 2:06. Kenyans Patrick Makau and Geoffrey Mutai lead the field after running the top two times in the world this year when they placed first and second at the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:04:48 and 2:04:55.

In Chicago, besides the WMM contenders, the men’s elite field includes Kenyan Vincent Kipruto who placed third last year and U.S. Olympian Ryan Hall, who will attempt to break the 2:05:38 American record set by Khalid Khannouchi in 2002. Hall currently shares 10th place in the WMM series with 20 points. The women’s field includes Russians Lidiya Grigoryeva, 2008 Chicago Marathon champion, and Maria Konovalova, U.S. Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, British Olympian Liz Yelling, Japanese star Naoko Sakamoto and up-and-coming U.S. runner Desiree Davila who placed 11th at the 2009 IAAF World Championships Marathon.

New York features one of the deepest elite fields ever, highlighted by Gebrselassie making his New York debut. The world record holder in the marathon and multiple Olympic and World Championships gold medalist, Gebrselassie has become a running legend in his native Ethiopia and worldwide. He currently sits ninth in the 2009–2010 WMM standings. The men’s and women’s elite fields hold 24 Olympians, 14 World Championships Medalists, eight WMM race winners, seven World Champions and four Olympic Medalists. The Olympic medalists include Gebrselassie (1996 and 2000, gold, 10,000m) and fellow Ethiopian Derartu Tulu (1992 and 2000, gold, 10,000m), who is tied for fifth in WMM standings. 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist and 2009 New York Champion Meb Keflezighi of the U.S. will try to defend his title and better his sixth place WMM ranking. The United States’ Shalane Flanagan (2008, bronze, 10,000m) will make her marathon debut.

WMM series points earned in 2010 will also count toward the 2010–11 series championship. If either Kebede or Cheruiyot wins in Chicago, they'll enter the 2011 season with a virtually unbeatable 50 points. If Shobukova wins in Chicago and Erkesso wins in New York, they will enter 2011 with a tie at 50 points. Complete WMM Series leaderboards are posted at

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