The 2011 marathon-running season was remarkable on a number of levels, particularly with respect to the five city marathon races that are part of the World Marathon Majors Series, as the men’s winner of each city race broke the course record in 2011.
World Marathon Majors Series:
The annual events that make up the World Marathon Majors Series include races in London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York. The series also includes the World Championship and Olympic marathons. The unique series is an overlapping, 2-year competition. Points scored in 2011, for example, count in the 2010-2011 Championship standings. But those points also count for the 2011-2012 standings.
Winners of each men’s and women’s race pick up 25 points. Runners receive 15 points for second place, 10 for third, five for fourth place and one point for fifth. The top four scores over each 2-year period count in the standings, but runners must compete in at least one series event in each of the two years to be eligible for the championship and the $500,000 prize.
2011 Men’s Season:
Kenyans dominated the 2011 portion of the series, winning all six men’s events – including the World Championship marathon – and four of the six women’s races. On the men’s side, Emmanuel Mutai started the season off by winning in London in a course record 2:04:40. The previous mark was 2:05:10 by Sammy Wanjiru. The next day, Geoffrey Mutai broke the year-old Boston record of 2:05:52, set by Robert Cheruiyot, finishing in 2:03:02. That time would’ve also been a world mark, but the Boston course doesn’t meet the IAAF standards for world record eligibility, lacking sufficient elevation and drop, as well as start/finish line separation.
In Daegu, Abel Kirui won the World Championship marathon in 2:07:38. Patrick Makau then torched the fast Berlin course later in September, finishing in 2:03:38 to break Haile Gebrselassie’s world record of 2:03:59, set on the same Berlin course in 2008. Wanjiru lost another course record in October, as Moses Mosop set a Chicago mark of 2:05:37, edging Wanjiru’s mark by four seconds. Geoffrey Mutai then closed the year with his second victory, shattering the New York City course record by 2:38 to win in a time of 2:05:05. Tesfaye Jifar set the previous mark of 2:07:43 in 2001.
Emmanuel Mutai gained the 2010-11 series championship with 70 points, earning two second place finishes in New York, plus a second place in London in 2010 to go with his 2011 London victory. Geoffrey Mutai leads the 2011-12 standings with 50 points, followed by Mosop and Emmanuel Mutai with 40, Makau with 35 and Kirui with 25. The highest non-Kenyan in the standings at the end of 2011 was Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia, tied for sixth at 15.
2011 Women’s Season:
The women’s 2011 series opened with Mary Keitany winning in London (2:19:19). Caroline Kilel finished first in Boston (2:22:36), Edna Kiplagat won the World Championship
in Daegu (2:28:43), then Florence Kiplagat finished first in Berlin (2:19:44). Two non-Kenyans then won the last two events, as Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova captured her third straight Chicago marathon (2:18:20), then Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado took the surprise victory in New York (2:23:15).
Shobukhova won the 2010-11 series championship with 90 points. She won both Chicago races plus the 2010 London marathon, and took second in the 2011 London race. She also leads the 2011-12 standings with 40 points. Keitany and Edna Kiplagat are next with 35 points apiece, followed by Dado, Kilel and Florence Kiplagat, all with 25.
The 2012 segment of the series will include the five city marathons, plus the Olympic marathon, giving London a second series race. The Boston Marathon will be held on April 16, followed by the annual London race on April 22. The women’s Olympic marathon is scheduled for Aug. 5, with the men’s marathon set for Aug. 12. Berlin’s marathon is Sept. 30, followed by Chicago on Oct. 7 and New York City on Nov. 4.