Running the Abbott World Marathon Majors | By Tara
I have been a runner for many years but never planned on running a marathon – it’s way too far and I never even enjoyed running half marathons. Following my sister’s death in 2015, I decided I wanted to do something to challenge myself and raise funds for Nacoa. I ran a few local 10km races and entered the ballot for the London Marathon. I did not get through the ballot in 2016, 2017 or 2018.
So not one to accept defeat, I decided instead that I would run the Edinburgh marathon and that would be my one marathon. I figured I couldn’t be a runner and not run a marathon. I ran Edinburgh in 2018 in 3 hrs 46 minutes and survived. Not only that but because of my age, my time counted as a Good For Age (GFA) entry for the London Marathon the following year. I couldn’t not run London, one of the biggest marathons in the world, so I entered for April 2019 and ran for Nacoa in a time of 3 hrs and 34 minutes.
I then, for some reason, decided it would be a good idea to run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors; London, New York, Berlin, Boston, Chicago and Tokyo. There’s no timeframe for running them and usually because of the difficulties in getting in (you either have to time qualify, go through a tour operator or get through an impossible ballot), most people take many years to run them all. At the end you get a bit of kudos but more importantly a massive medal. I was sold on the medal as I love a bit of bling.
‘Tara – you may be small but you are strong’
Once the decision was made, I wanted to get started straight away so I paid for a tour operator place for the New York Marathon in November 2019 and ran that the same year as London in 3 hr 32 minutes. New York, along with London, is one of the biggest marathons. It runs through all six boroughs. The weather was great and the New Yorkers came out in style to cheer us all on. My most uplifting comment from a spectator ‘Tara – you may be small but you are strong’ brought a smile to my face.
As a result of my time in New York, I was lucky enough to qualify for the April 2020 Boston Marathon. I trained through early 2020 but sadly COVID had other ideas and the marathon was cancelled and postponed to Autumn 2020, but I think we all know what happened next. The whole country went into lockdown and running kept me sane. I trained throughout lockdown and the Summer of 2020 for the Autumn race but again Boston was cancelled so instead I ran it virtually, half by myself and half with friends.
Not half as much fun as running an actual race. It was cancelled again in April 2021 and deferred to Autumn 2021 with a reduced field. My time meant I qualified for the reduced field but again it was not meant to be as we were not allowed into The USA. Instead I ran Berlin in Autumn 2021 with slightly less training and a shorter taper because I had been training for Boston. I ran Berlin in October 2021 in 3 hr 20 minutes and qualified again for Boston 2022. I also ran the Boston virtual (you get a medal and a t-shirt!) at the Manchester Marathon in October 2021.
Did I mention its also one of the hilliest?!
My next marathon is Boston on 18 April 2022, a marathon I have now trained for five times but run none (other than two virtuals). I have decided again to raise money for Nacoa, a charity close to my heart and the reason I decided to run a marathon in the first place four years ago. Boston is the oldest annual marathon in the world. It takes place on Patriots Day the third Monday of April. It is considered to be one of the hardest to get into because you have to time qualify – no luck of the draw or ballot for Boston. A BQ (Boston Qualifying Time) is much sought after. I can’t wait to travel to Boston and experience the USA’s exuberance for their favourite marathon. Did I mention its also one of the hilliest?!
After Boston, I have Chicago in October 2022 following which I will try and navigate the difficulties in applying for and running Tokyo in 2023, not an easy task because currently there is a backlog of runners from 2020 and a limit on international visitors.
So what started out as a plan to run six marathons over three years has been dragged out to training for six, running four actual races and two virtuals and I still have three to go. I feel like I have aged twenty years and am not at all sure how my ageing body will hold up for the next races. That said, I have enjoyed the marathons immensely, maybe not always the training – getting up at 5.00 am on a Sunday or running in the snow and hail is not much fun, but it will all be worth it in the end when I get that big Abbott Major Medal and raise some serious funds for Nacoa.
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