World Marathon Majors Series Resumes in Berlin with $1 Million Prize Purse to be ClaimedFrom the World Marathon Majors
September 21, 2010
A head-to-head battle for the World Marathon Majors series men's title between Samuel Wanjiru and Tesgaye Kebede at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 10, and the first appearance of world record-holder Haile Gebrselassie at the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7 highlight the autumn World Marathon Majors campaign that continues in Berlin this Sunday. The real,- Berlin Marathon is Sunday, September 26 in Berlin, Germany, followed two weeks later by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, IL, and will conclude with the ING New York City Marathon in six weeks.
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 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin. Men's and women's winners of the 2009/2010 series will share a $1 million prize purse.
Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru and Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede currently share the lead in the men's series with 50 points apiece. Russia's Liliya Shobukhova leads the women's field with 60 points, and Germany's Irina Mikitenko is second with 40 points. All four athletes are entered to race in Chicago, along with Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot who currently sits in sixth place with 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 autumn 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. Germany's Sabrina Mockenhaupt (2:26:22 personal best) will seek the women's title, with Bezunesh Bekele (2:23:09 pb) the top international challenger.
In Chicago, besides the WMM contenders, the men's elite field includes Kenyan Vincent Kipruto (third in 2009) and U.S. Olympian Ryan Hall, who has targeted 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 champion), and Maria Konovalova, U.S. Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, British Olympian Liz Yelling, Japanese star Naoko Sakamoto and rising U.S. runner Desiree Davila (11th at the 2009 IAAF World Championships Marathon).
New York features a deep elite field, highlighted by Haile 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; he currently ranks sixth in the WMM standings. 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 WMM 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 worldmarathonmajors.com.