The biggest events of the worldwide Marathon calendar are those that make up a series called the Abbott World Marathon Majors. These include, in date order: Tokyo Marathon, Virgin Money London Marathon, The Boston Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the TCS New York City Marathon. With the rise in popularity of running across the world, the most popular international running events are getting increasingly difficult to get into.
In general there are a few set ways in which you can get hold of an entry into one of the World Marathon Majors which are:
With the exception of the London Marathon where we act as global partner to distribute entries to tour operators worldwide, Sports Tours International has guaranteed entry to all Marathon Majors for those requiring individual entries. You can find a list of our World Marathon Majors travel packages here
In 2013, Tokyo joined as a sixth race to the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Unlike the other five marathons in the World Marathon Majors, Tokyo Marathon started as a massive race from its very first year. Over 25,000 runners finished the Tokyo Marathon in 2007. After just 5 years, the marathon had grown, and nearly 36,000 runners started the race. Applications for the 2019 Tokyo Marathon drew over 331,211 applicants. This equates to an oversubscription rate of 10.8 times.
Due to the global COVID- 19 outbreak of 2020, the 2020 Tokyo Marathon was run as an elite race only. Due to the resulting entry rollovers; there will be a very limited number of event entries available for the 2021 edition of the race.
36,000 places. Free to register, and a lottery system to pick entrants. Less than a 10% chance of selection. Every year well over 300,000 people register and the limit is usually about 35,000. The ballot system opens at the start of August for 1 month.
For just 300 international runners there is the Run as One entry where women and men can guarantee participation by running a sub 3.30 marathon and sub 2.45 marathon respectively.
There are also limited charity entries available.
Guaranteed entries are available with travel packages through Sports Tours International – More Information or join our 2021 waitlist – Tokyo Marathon
As ever Sports Tours International will have a limited number of entry and accommodation packages for the 2021 edition of the Tokyo Marathon. If however, you’re looking for an alternative early season marathon, you can enter the 2021 Paris Marathon or why not join us at the 2021 edition of the Acea Run Rome the Marathon.
Boston is the world’s oldest annual marathon which started in 1897. Held each year on Patriot’s Day, this race has become an icon of running in the USA and one of the most sought after events in the world. Steeped in history, this is the place where 19-year-old Katherine Switzer changed the rules. She is best known for being the first woman to take part in the Boston Marathon and finish a major marathon as a numbered entry, which she accomplished in 1967, paving the way for the thousands of women who have followed her.
In 2020, due to the adverse effects of the global COVID- 19 outbreak, the Boston Marathon was made a virtual only event, meaning that, for the first time in over 120 years, there was to be no marathon on the streets of Boston in 2020. The subsequent entry rollovers mean that competition for 2021 entries is likely to be even tougher than ever before. The Boston Marathon will return to the road, for its 125th edition, on 19th April 2021.
Participants who want direct entry have to meet a qualifying standard. However this time does not guarantee entry: the fastest are accepted first until places are full. This means that you could meet the qualifying standard by some margin but you still don’t get in. The entry system opens up to those who are in one by one September. Your qualifying time needs to have been achieved before September to be taken into consideration for entry the following year. Entries for US runners cost about $180 and International runners who qualify will have to pay about $240.
To qualify for the Boston Marathon, athletes must meet time standards which correspond to age and gender. For the 2021 Boston Marathon, qualifying times must be run on or after Saturday, September 14, 2019. The qualifying times below are based upon each athlete’s age on the date of the 2021 Boston Marathon (April 15, 2019).
Achieving one’s qualifying standard does not guarantee entry into the event, but simply the opportunity to submit for registration. In recent years, not all qualifiers who submit an entry have been accepted due to field size restrictions. If total amount of submissions surpass the allotted field size for qualified athletes, then those who are the fastest among the pool of applicants in their age and gender group will be accepted. See the current qualifying standards below:
|AGE GROUP||QUALIFYING STANDARD||QUALIFICATION TIMES ACCEPTED (faster than and including)|
|18-34||3hrs 00min 00sec||2hrs 58min 21sec|
|35-39||3hrs 05min 00sec||3hrs 03min 21sec|
|40-44||3hrs 10min 00sec||3hrs 08min 21sec|
|45-49||3hrs 20min 00sec||3hrs 18min 21sec|
|50-54||3hrs 25min 00sec||3hrs 23min 21sec|
|55-59||3hrs 35min 00sec||3hrs 33min 21sec|
|60-64||3hrs 50min 00sec||3hrs 48min 21sec|
|65-69||4hrs 05min 00sec||4hrs 03min 21sec|
|70-74||4hrs 20min 00sec||4hrs 18min 21sec|
|75-79||4hrs 35min 00sec||4hrs 33min 21sec|
|80 and over||4hrs 50min 00sec||4hrs 48min 21sec|
|AGE GROUP||QUALIFYING STANDARD||QUALIFICATION TIMES ACCEPTED (faster than and including)|
|18-34||3hrs 30min 00sec||3hrs 28min 21sec|
|35-39||3hrs 35min 00sec||3hrs 33min 21sec|
|40-44||3hrs 40min 00sec||3hrs 38min 21sec|
|45-49||3hrs 50min 00sec||3hrs 48min 21sec|
|50-54||3hrs 55min 00sec||3hrs 53min 21sec|
|55-59||4hrs 05min 00sec||4hrs 03min 21sec|
|60-64||4hrs 20min 00sec||4hrs 18min 21sec|
|65-69||4hrs 35min 00sec||4hrs 33min 21sec|
|70-74||4hrs 50min 00sec||4hrs 48min 21sec|
|75-79||5hrs 05min 00sec||5hrs 03min 21sec|
|80 and over||5hrs 20min 00sec||5hrs 18min 21sec|
Guaranteed entries are available with travel packages through Sports Tours International, and you do not need a qualifying time when booking through us, but interest is high so you will need to join our waitlist. Click here for more details: The Boston Marathon.You can try to gain entry through a charity but there are only about 2,500 charity entries up for grabs. Alternatively, you can test yourself at one of our other popular spring marathons such as the ever popular Paris Marathon, or you can try something completely different, at the absolutely stunning, Two Oceans Ultra and Marathon in South Africa.
Since its inception in 1981, the London Marathon has developed a reputation for its fast, record setting course. The marathon was founded by former Olympic champion Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley, and is to this day, organised by Hugh Brasher (son of Chris). The marathon is set largely around the River Thames and begins at three separate points around Blackheath, with all runners finishing on the Mall alongside St James’s Park.
A record total of 457,861 people entered the ballot for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, which was sadly postponed, due to the adverse effects of the COVID – 19 pandemic. Due to these record breaking ballot figures, and deferrals and rollover charity entries brought about by the event postponement, we imagine that entry for the world’s most over subscribed marathon is only going to get tougher!
It is very difficult to get into the London Marathon through the ballot and ballot entry opens for just 5 days, during the month of May. You will find out if you are in when you receive a magazine in October. Once you do get a ballot place, the entry costs just £39 for UK residents. There are plenty of charity options, but many will have minimum fundraising requirements.
Running clubs receive an allocation of entries each, which you may be able to get if you’re an affiliated member. Otherwise, you might qualify for a ‘Good for Age’ spot, but the times are pretty tough to achieve and you need to apply for this by mid June.
The Good for Age qualifying times accepted for the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon are:
|Men||Time (in hours)||Women||Time (in hours)|
|Age 18-39||sub 2:57:20||Age 18-39||sub 3:40:45|
|Age 40-44||sub 3:02:20||Age 40-44||sub 3:45:45|
|Age 45-49||sub 3:07:20||Age 45-49||sub 3:48:45|
|Age 50-54||sub 3:12:20||Age 50-54||sub 3:55:45|
|Age 55-59||sub 3:17:20||Age 55-59||sub 4:00:45|
|Age 60-64||sub 3:42:20||Age 60-64||sub 4:25:45|
|Age 65-69||sub 3:57:20||Age 65-69||sub 4:55:45|
|Age 70-74||sub 4:57:20||Age 70-74||sub 5:55:45|
|Age 75-79||sub 5:12:20||Age 75-79||sub 6:15:45|
|80+||sub 5:27:20||80+||sub 6:35:45|
Sports Tours International are pleased to offer hotel packages to anyone who wishes to take the stress out of their London Marathon experience. If, however, you decide to leave running the capital to another year, but want to enjoy an equally unforgettable race, we are delighted to announce that we have greatly increased our offering of adventure marathons for 2021, and, in the Month of May can offer you both the Great Wall Marathon and the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, to wet your appetite for adventure!
The Berlin marathon started in the Grunewald forest in 1974 and moved to West Berlin in 1981. The streets of Berlin have, since then, seen more world records broken, than any other city on Earth. Set in this beautiful and vibrant metropolis, it’s easy to see why the Berlin is one of the 6 World Marathon Majors. The Berlin Marathon is famous for being flat and fast. Whether you are running your first marathon, or you are a seasoned runner, Berlin is the place to achieve a personal best. Over recent years the Berlin Marathon has provided eleven world records, with Eliud Kipchoge running 2:01:39 at Berlin 2018 to claim the current world record. Sadly, due to the global COVID – 19 outbreak, the 2020 edition of the Berlin Marathon had to be cancelled, due to the number of entry rollovers that this has created, we expect competition for entries to the 2021 race to be high. You can however, secure an entry through us at Sports Tours International.
As Berlin is the World Marathon record course it has seen unprecedented increased popularity. This is a sell out Marathon and you have to enter the ballot to have a chance of directly entering. In excess of 100,000 people enter the ballot and entrants have only a 16% chance of successfully securing a slot. Entering the ballot is free and the ballot opens mid October. It costs €110 to enter if you win a spot in the ballot and you’ll find out in November. If you don’t get in through the ballot, you can gain entry through a charity, but these usually have a minimum fundraising target.
Alternatively, Berlin offers entries by qualification to ‘fast runners’, which have minimum qualifying times as follows:
Male Runners: Age 18 to 44: under 2:45 hours . Male Runners Age 45 to 59: under 2:55 hours. Male Runners Age 60 and up: under 3:25 hours.
Female Runners: Age 18 to 44: under 3:00 hours. Female Runners Age 45 to 59 : under 3:20 hours. Female Runners Age 60 and up : under 4:10 hours.
Guaranteed entries are available with travel packages through Sports Tours International. Click here.
If however, you want an equally unique, but more lighthearted running experience. We can also offer entries and packages for the always a sell out, and definitely a party, Marathon du Medoc. The Medoc Marathon is a celebration of all things ‘the good life’ – food, wine, and of course running. All at the same time! Fancy dress is not only encouraged at this event, its compulsory – not an experience you’d be likely to forget in a hurry!
Since the first Chicago Marathon took place back in 1977, the numbers of runners have massively increased from 4,200 to almost 55,000. The race has always been one of the largest marathon road races in the world. Just over 50% of the field at the Chicago Marathon comes from successful ballot entries (53%) with another 36% coming from qualified runners. Guaranteed entries are available with travel packages through Sports Tours International. The limit for registered entrants is usually reached as early as 6 months before race day.
Runners who meet qualifying times specific to their age and gender will gain an automatic ticket to the starting line. The new time standards are a strategy for race organizers to give participants of all ages an equal chance to qualify for guaranteed entry. In the past, the time qualifier guaranteed-entry option only applied to men who ran 3:15 or faster and women who had a sub-3:45 race to their names, no matter what their age.
The following standards, achieved on an IAAF-certified course to Chicago for 2021:
The ballot system opens at the end of October and it shuts at the end of November and results are announced in the second week of December. Entering the ballot entry is free. You can earn a guaranteed entry if you’ve run the race five times in the previous ten years. There are numerous charities that typically have fundraising minimums.
The Chicago Marathon was sadly cancelled in 202o, however will return for 2021, and we expect demand to be higher and, due to the high number of rollover entries, there to be less ballot entries available than ever before!Guaranteed entries are available with travel packages through Sports Tours International. Find out more here.
If, however, you want to experience a Marathon closer to home; Sports Tours International are proud to be an official partner of the KBC Dublin Marathon, and can offer a totally unique tour of the Emerald Isle, complete with Traditional Irish cultural experiences. Disneyland Paris Run Weekend offers a fun filled and magical running experience for the whole family!
The TCS New York City Marathon is the most popular and diverse marathon in the world. The marathon attracts some of the world’s top athletes, and an extensive range of recreational runners. As the marathon has no official time limit, it can be a great choice for beginners and first time marathons. The race began back in 1970, it had just 127 competitors, and cost only $1.
Runners previously had around a 16% – 18% chance of getting in through the ballot. However more recently these chances have shrunk significantly. In 2019 for example there were close to 117,000 total lottery entrants, all trying to get their hands on one of just 10,500 places (around a 10% chance of success). The window for registering for registering for the ballot usually opens from around January 30, 2021, through to February 13, 2021. After the application process has closed, there is a 2-week waiting period, while they process a large number of applications. Then, on around February 26th, NYRR will announce which runners have gained entry this year.Runners not accepted into the event can still get entry via charities, or book a guaranteed entry with one of the travel packages available through Sports Tours International.
You can qualify by time for the TCS New York City Marathon by running fast enough to meet the time standards at the following NYRR races: Fred Lebow Half-Marathon, United Airlines NYC Half, SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon, Popular® Brooklyn Half, NYRR Staten Island Half, TCS New York City Marathon.
A limited number of time-qualifier spots will be available to runners who met the time standards in a non-NYRR race. These spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Verification will be completed prior to the 2021 entry drawing.
The 2020 New York City Marathon was set to be the 50th edition of the event, until it was cancelled, as a result of the COVID- 19 pandemic. 2021 will now see this landmark edition of the race. Due to the already high demand for this year’s race, and the high number of deferrals and roll over entries it is likely to be more difficult than ever before to secure your place!
*Age on November 1, 2021, for the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon.
All times run must be at least as fast as the posted time. Net (chip) time, not gun time, is evaluated. More information about qualifying here
Guaranteed entries are available with travel packages through Sports Tours International. Find out more here.
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