The spring season of Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII promised much and delivered more. From the thousands of Six Star finishers we welcomed into the hall of fame to the amazing performances of our elite athletes; Tokyo, Boston and London served up a feast of inspiring stories. Here are our top six takeaways.
1. Manuela is Slam-tastic
We’re running out of words to describe how dominant an athlete Manuela Schär is, so we’re resorting to bare facts. She has won all six AbbottWMM races in a row, a series Grand Slam no other athlete has achieved. She has done so with a combined winning margin of 21 minutes and 35 seconds. She scored the maximum points possible for Series XII before she even reached London by winning four races and claiming three bonus point wins. To put the tin lid on it, she was fastest through London’s Flying 400 bonus point section, blocking anyone else from winning the points and bagging the $10,000 prize for herself. Unstoppable.
2. The greatest finish we’ve seen for 12 years
You have to go back to 2007 and the streets of Chicago for a finish tighter than the one we saw in Boston this year. Twelve years ago Patrick Ivuti and Jaouad Gharib went elbow to elbow down Columbus and crossed the line in lockstep, separated in the end by five hundredths of a second. This year, we saw something not quite as close but equally as thrilling. Lelisa Desisa, the New York City champion, and Lawrence Cherono hit Boylston Street side by side and battled it out down the middle of the road, each man waiting for the other to blink first. In the end it was Desisa who yielded with a handful of strides to go to in a finish for the ages, leaving those of us there to witness it gasping for air.
3. Six thousand and counting
The AbbottWMM Six Star program took two quantum leaps in as many weeks in April as we breezed through the 5,000 barrier of Six Star Finishers in Boston, only to surge straight past the 6,000 mark when we pitched up in London a fortnight later. The momentum gathered in the last four months is astonishing, with each of our Spring races delivering massive increases in numbers versus the previous year’s total. Tokyo saw a 38 per cent rise, Boston’s total went up 68 percent and London delivered a 49 per cent jump.
4. Romanchuk rules supreme
He proved last year that he could do it on home soil, but then Tokyo came along and we were left wondering if Daniel Romanchuk’s rise was hitting the buffers. Marcel Hug made light work of the rain and his rivals to win by a country mile in Japan. But the boy from Illinois dusted himself down and returned to winning ways in Boston, before earning his first overseas AbbottWMM win in London. The series is now in his huge hands.
5. Kate's a record-holder. It's in black and white
We hear lots of fantastic stories about our Six Star finishers, from those who overcome the odds to make it all the way to the end of their Six Star journey to runners who clock some seriously fast times in all six races. Some of them even go on to achieve other impressive feats within the world of running. For Kate Carter, one huge acheivement was followeed quickly by the other in April. She became a Six Star finisher in Boston and a Guinness World Record holder in London as she clocked the fastest time (3:48:32) for a marathon run by a female in a full-body animal costume. Bravo!
6. Kipchoge’s reign sees no end
Will anyone ever again beat Eliud Kipchoge over the marathon? The last man to do it was Wilson Kipsang when he ran a world record 2:03:23 in Berlin in 2013. Since then, Kipchoge has taken that mark one minute and 45 seconds lower, and in London this year he carved off 28 seconds from the course record to clock the second fastest time in history od 2:02:37. He is top of the leaderboard for Series XII and could become the first man to win four series’ in a row, having already become the first man to win four Virgin Money London Marathons in a row. We are living in the time of a once-in-a-generation athlete. The only debate is this: he’s already the greatest marathon runner ever. Is he also the greatest runner ever, full stop?