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A look at the tightly packed fall marathon schedule

If races can be held later this year, running fans will be treated to all six World Marathon Majors in as many weeks

2013 Berlin Marathon Photo by: Frank Stebner

With the recent news that the Boston Marathon has been scheduled for October 11, the 2021 fall marathon calendar will officially hold all six World Marathon Major (WMM) events. This schedule is set to start with the Berlin Marathon on September 26 and end six weeks later at the New York City Marathon on November 7. While such a packed calendar is far from ideal for elite marathoners who might try to run two of the WMMs in a normal year, it will make for a thrilling month and a half of entertainment for running fans around the world. 

The Tokyo Marathon is scheduled to run later this year, but don’t expect the start line to look this packed.

A busy schedule 

The WMM calendar kicks off at the end of September with the Berlin Marathon. The London Marathon is scheduled to run just one week later on October 3, with organizers planning a fall race date for the second straight year (the event is traditionally held in April). A week after that, the Chicago and Boston marathons are set to go on consecutive days, running on October 10 and 11, respectively. Once again, there will only be a week-long break in the action, as the Tokyo Marathon is pencilled in for October 17. Following the string of five races, fans will only have to wait until November 7 for the NYC Marathon to complete the 2021 WMM season. 

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Adding to the already packed calendar are the Olympic marathons, with the women’s race set for August 7 and the men scheduled to run on August 8. The world’s top marathoners will be in Japan for the Olympics (assuming the Games go ahead), which doesn’t give them much time to recover and prepare for the start of the WMM fall season. This means the door could be open for the second tier of elite runners to throw down some breakout runs at the WMMs. 

Brigid Kosgei after running the marathon world record at the Chicago Marathon. Photo: Twitter/ChiMarathon

Not set in stone 

It will be really exciting to see all six WMMs go ahead in the fall, and if it happens, we won’t complain. However, at this point, all we can do is hope that races will be held later this year. The pandemic is still out of control all around the world, and although the fall is still months away, it’s far from guaranteed that there will be major in-person races held at any point in 2021. As the Tokyo and London marathons showed last year, elite-only events are good options for these big races, and while it would be unfortunate to see another year go by with no mass participation events at WMMs, elite races are better than none at all. 

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