(28-Feb) -- After the conclusion of today's Tokyo Marathon, officials of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbottWMM) declared that Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Mary Keitany were the overall champions of that global marathon league's Series IX, and each would receive a USD 500,000 prize. Series IX began with the 2015 Tokyo Marathon last February and ended at the same event today, the first time a 13-month scoring system was used by AbbottWMM, replacing the previous overlapping two-year scoring system.
Kipchoge, who won both the Virgin Money London and BMW Berlin Marathons in 2015, had a perfect score of 50 points and was the outright winner. Compatriot Dickson Chumba, last October's Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion, had a chance to tie Kipchoge in Tokyo today, but finished third and out of contention. Kipchoge ran only ran two marathons during Series IX (a maximum of two races are permitted for scoring), and clocked 2:04:42 in London and 2:04:00 in Berlin. Each victory was worth 25 points.
Keitany, who finished second at London and won the TCS New York City Marathon last November, ended the series in a three-way tie with world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia and today's Tokyo champion and new course record-holder Helah Kiprop of Kenya. Each woman scored 41 points based on their best two finishes. Kiprop was eliminated from contention for the Series IX title in the first of two tie-breakers (head-to-head record) because she had been beaten by Dibaba at last August's IAAF World Championships where she finished second. Keitany and Dibaba were still tied after the second tie-breaker, number of victories, because each had one. That left the race directors of the six races to vote on whether Keitany or Dibaba was most deserving, and they selected Keitany based on the overall strength of the fields they faced as determined by the number of total AbbottWMM points earned by their competitors in the respective races.
Interestingly, Dibaba also won the Xiamen Marathon in China in January, 2015, but that event is not part of the series and that result was not considered.
Also honored today in Tokyo were citizen runners David Mark, of Chicago, Ill., and Barbara Fleming-Ovens, of Cranfield, Ireland, who finished the Tokyo Marathon to become AbbottWMM Six Star Finishers. They represented the almost 600 runners from all over the world who have completed all six of the AbbottWMM marathons, and they were the first to receive the new medals that are now available to all Six Star Finishers.
"This year we've demonstrated our commitment to championing the sport, supporting the elite runners who prove that marathoners are among the world's greatest athletes, and celebrating the 250,000 runners who every year join us on our iconic courses," said AbbottWMM general manager Tim Hadzima in a statement. "Congratulations to Eliud, Mary, David, Barbara and all our Six Star Finishers, and we look forward to the beginning of Abbott World Marathon Majors Series X and the new Wheelchair Series in Boston in April."
AbbottWMM Series X begins on Monday, April 18, with the Boston Marathon. The remaining series stops will be the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 24; the women's and men's Olympic Games Marathons on August 14 and 21, respectively; the BMW Berlin Marathon on September 25; the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9; the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6; the 2017 Tokyo Marathon on February 26; then the 2017 Boston Marathon on April 17. There will also be, for the first time, an Abbott World Marathon Majors Wheelchair Series which also starts and finishes in Boston.
PHOTO: Officials of the Abbott World Marathon Majors pose with Series IX champions Mary Keitany and Eliud Kipchoge after the 2016 Tokyo Marathon. From left to right: Tim Hadzima, AbbottWMM general manager; Carey Pinkowski, executive director, Bank of America Chicago Marathon; Mary Keitany; Eliud Kipchoge; Peter Ciaccia, President of Events, and race director, TCS New York City Marathon; Nick Bitel, chief executive, Virgin Money London Marathon; Mark Milde, race director, BMW Berlin Marathon; Tom Grilk, executive director, Boston Athletic Association (Photo courtesy of Abbott World Marathon Majors)