The 2023 spring season of the Abbott World Marathon Majors has inked so much into the history books.
Perhaps it was fitting that the first full spring of Majors races since 2019 would make its comeback in such jaw-dropping style.
From records tumbling to new heroes emerging, Tokyo, Boston and London have served up a smorgasbord of stories that will live long in the memory.
We've chosen our six top picks.
Becky: broken, but not beaten
The world record-setting number of Six Star Finishers we saw in Tokyo was always going to shower us with incredible stories.
We touched upon so many of them, from Regina the Queen of Harlem to Thomas Eller and his inspiring story as the world’s first deaf-born Six Star Finisher.
We were not surprised to find more on the day itself, but none more than Becky McMorries’ tale made us cringe and cheer in equal measure at the double dose of pain and camaraderie it generated.
A broken hip looked like ending her day just a few miles short of the finish line and her Six Star medal, until an international cast of heroes came to the rescue. Read the full story of that day in Tokyo here.
Susannah’s running repairs
It was a landmark day at the Boston Marathon for Susannah Scaroni as she claimed her first victory at the race to insert herself into the fight for the women’s wheelchair series XV title. It was not without its drama, however.
Scaroni had built a healthy lead when – quite literally – the wheels threatened to come off.
With her right wheel beginning to wobble and the chasing pack closing in, the American pulled to the side of the road, delved into her racing chair and produced an Allen key which she then used to furiously tighten the wheel nut back up.
Not only did she repair it, she got going again with minimal damage to her leading margin and built an even bigger gap for the remainder of the race to come home as the 2023 victor. Marathon champion, role model, mechanic.
Yuki’s Six Star story
Yuki Kawauchi is the cult hero’s cult hero. The Japanese star who shot to fame when he won Boston in 2018 turned up in London to run his sixth and final Major to earn his Six Star medal.
Yuki’s eye-watering marathon schedule made it impossible for him be classed as an elite starter in London, since elites are not permitted to run other races in such proximity to London. He had recently run the Osaka and Saga Marathons in his homeland, winning the latter.
So, he set off from the British Championship start and promptly won that division, coming home in 2:13 to great acclaim along The Mall.
He was, unsurprisingly, the first Six Star Finisher to arrive at the Six Star Medal tent, even catching our volunteers unawares as they went through their briefing for the day, and he was absolutely thrilled with his new hardware.
Look out for a special film on a special runner coming to our channels soon.
Sifan’s superb marathon debut
The disbelief that spread across Sifan Hassan’s face as she crossed the London finish line said it all.
For much of the build-up – and then much of the race itself – the track superstar experienced most of what the other 46,000 runners felt as they contemplated and then endured 26.2 miles: fear, regret, pain but, ultimately, perseverance.
Hassan looked like her day was going to end early when she fell away from the leaders, grimacing and feeling her right hip, then stopping to try and stretch it.
Rather than bow out and put it down to experience, she gathered herself, emerged from the mother of all bad patches, and caught the leaders who must have been shocked to see her appear on their shoulders. From then on, the drama increased.
Missed drinks bottles and a close call with a broadcast motorcycle ratcheted up the tension even more as we began to contemplate the prospect of Hassan winning the race. When she completed the fairy tale, she – and we – could scarcely believe it.
She said afterwards that the track will be her focus at this year’s Athletics World Championships but then she would train her sights on either Chicago or New York in the fall. We cannot wait to see her back on the roads.
October 10, 2021. Remember the date. It’s the last time Marcel Hug lost a marathon. Since then, he has won every single Major he has started. Much has been made of the expensive chair he switched into in 2021 and the way it allows him to tuck into a more aerodynamic seating position.
It should be remembered that he had to endure a fair amount of pain to change that racing position, and then you still must be fit enough and disciplined enough to construct a winning streak as long as the one he is currently enjoying.
They say race day itself is the easy part. Getting to the start line ready to perform is the true test, and he has always kept himself in top condition. Hug is a generational athlete and has impressed enormously with his three victories this spring. What more can he accomplish in 2023?
Are we seeing the passing of Kipchoge’s torch?
When Eliud Kipchoge came sixth in Boston, the watching world took a sharp breath. Had the great man finally shown a crack in the armour, or was this just another off-day like the one he had in London in 2020?
For many who wanted to see him become the first able-bodied man to win all six AbbottWMM races, it was a deflating moment, despite the brilliance displayed by Evans Chebet to win a second Boston in a row.
Six days later, we may have witnessed the arrival of the man who could pick up the mantle of the G.O.A.T.
Kelvin Kiptum put the world on notice when he ran 2:01:53 in Valencia last year. He produced another stunning run in London that confirmed Valencia was no fluke.
His time of 2:01:25 wrestled the London course record from Kipchoge’s grip and suggested that Kiptum could be the man to take aim at the 39-year-old’s 2:01:09 set in Berlin last year. Aged just 23 and armed with the second and fourth fastest times ever recorded, Kiptum’s potential is frightening.