The Men's and Women's Marathons tee up an epic rematch as well as an opportunity for redemption.
Men's Race Preview
The Men's Marathon, scheduled for Aug. 22 as the first event of the IAAF Championships, is expected to be a showdown of the fastest in the sport.
Set to toe the starting line at Yongdingmen Gate are Kenya's Dennis Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang, Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich and Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa. These veterans of AWMM races will compete under challenging, typical Beijing conditions of heat and humidity on a point-to-point course that runs past some of the city's most iconic landmarks.
Kimetto and Kipsang enter into round two of a bout that begin with the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon. This rematch of an epic battle pits Kipsang, the world's No. 1 ranked marathon runner in 2014, against world record holder Kimetto.
Kipsang, the 2013-2014 World Marathon Majors winner, is in second place and holds 16 points on the AWMM Series IX leaderboard. Kimetto, who became the first man to break a two hour/three minute threshold with his 2:02:57 world record at the 2014 BMW BERLIN Marathon, is in third place with 9 points.
Kiprotich has in the past been an impediment to Kenyan dominance. He shut down a record string of eight consecutive World Marathon Majors wins by Kenyan men with his 2012 Olympic Marathon win, and followed that up with a gold medal win at the 2013 IAAF championships in Moscow. Should he notch another first place finish on Aug. 22, he could vault to first in the AWMM Series IX leaderboard.
Hard man Desisa presents formidable competition. Currently atop the Series IX leaderboard, the 2013 world silver medalist will run in Beijing after his 2:09:17 win at the 2015 Boston Marathon. He's not to be counted out, given his sub-one half-marathon personal best (59:30) and his many victories on the US road running circuit.
Women's Race Preview
On the women's side, two-time IAAF World Championships Marathon defending champion Edna Kiplagat, of Ethiopia, is seeking to become the first marathoner, male or female, to win three World Championships gold medals and five victories in Abbott World Marathon Majors races. On Aug. 30 in Beijing, she'll be looking for redemption, after what many considered to be a surprise disappointing performance at the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon.
Other Ethiopian runners have an opportunity for a giant stride to the top of the Series IX Leaderboard on Aug. 30.
Berhane Dibaba's 2:23:15 first-place finish at Tokyo Marathon 2015, and Tigist Tufa's 2:23:22 Virgin Money London Marathon victory earned them each 25 scoring points. A gold medal in Beijing would bump the total to 50 points, the maximum value during this scoring period.
But they are not the only Ethiopian runners who can augment their Series IX point totals. Mare Dibaba, who finished second at the 2015 Boston Marathon and currently has 16 points, and Tirfi Tsegaye, the third-place finisher at the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon with a current 9 points, are also expected to compete on behalf of Ethiopia.
IAAF World Championship Marathon
The IAAF World Championships Marathon is a Qualifying Race in the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which determines the world's best male and female marathoners, awarding a $1 million prize purse split evenly between the men's and women's champions. In the current Series IX one-year cycle, qualifying races are the 2015 Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, IAAF World Championships, BMW BERLIN, Bank of America Chicago and TCS New York City Marathons; and the 2016 Tokyo Marathon.
During the Series IX scoring period, which began with the Tokyo Marathon 2015 and will end at the conclusion of Tokyo Marathon 2016, points from a maximum of two Qualifying Races will be counted. An athlete must start in two Qualifying Races over the Series cycle to be eligible for the AWMM title.
Race reports and updated AWMM Series standings will follow the respective IAAF World Championships Marathons.
Current Standings in the Series IX Leaderboard
1. Lelisa Desisa (ETH)
1. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)
1. Endeshaw Negesse (ETH)
4. Yemane Tsegay (ETH)
4. Stephen Kiprotich (UGA)
4. Wilson Kipsang (KEN)
1. Birhane Dibaba (ETH)
1. Tigist Tufa (ETH)
1. Caroline Rotich (KEN)
4. Helah Kiprop (ETH)
4. Mare Dibaba (ETH)
4. Mary Keitany (KEN)
Abbott World Marathon Majors rules regarding a tie
In the event of a tie in points earned at the conclusion of a Series cycle, the winner shall be determined using the following rules (addressed in descending order).
1. The athlete with the best head-to-head record in Qualifying Races during the Series period will be declared the winner. Only the fact that one athlete finished ahead of the other will be taken into account and not by how many places. For purposes of clarity, it shall not matter whether or not the athletes scored points towards their Series total when considering head-to-head competition.
2. The athlete who has won the most Qualifying Races during the period.
3. The athlete whom the majority of the Race Directors of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors determines to be the champion. In such circumstances, the Race Directors may decide to award the title jointly.
About the Abbott World Marathon Majors
The Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW BERLIN, Bank of America Chicago, and TCS New York City Marathons together represent the Abbott World Marathon Majors and serve as Qualifying Races. In the years in which they are run, the Series also includes the IAAF World Championships and Olympic Marathons. At the conclusion of each Series cycle, a $1 million prize purse is divided equally between the top male and female marathoners in the world as determined by points earned in Qualifying Races. The inaugural 2006-2007 WMM Series was launched at the 110th Boston Marathon on April 17, 2006, and concluded at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2007. The Tokyo Marathon became a Qualifying Race in October 2012, and the 2013-2014 series, the WMM's eighth two-year series, began with the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 24, 2013, and concluded at the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2, 2014. The first Abbott World Marathon Majors series, titled AWMM Series IX, began at the Tokyo Marathon 2015 and will conclude after completion of the Tokyo Marathon 2016.