Running the marathon majors

Scenes from Paris, London and Berlin

Scenes from Paris, London and Berlin

What’s a runner to do who’s accomplished all her time goals and distance goals but still wants to stay in the marathon and racing game? How about tackling all the marathon majors? That’s the path my two friends Lisa and Julie have headed down and so far, it has been a great ride for them.

For those who are unfamiliar, the marathon majors are considered Boston, NYC, Chicago, Berlin, Paris, London and Tokyo. Lisa and Julie are well on their way to having all seven crossed off their lists, their most recent conquests being Paris and London (the “chunnel”) just last month.

Before I get into their fun travel to the races, let me tell you these ladies are no joke when it comes to time accomplishments. Both have marathon PRs that run sub-3:15. Both have run the JFK 50, and Lisa has even run Rim2Rim2Rim. In our running group, they are perpetually at the front of the pack while some of us (raises hand) whine for them to slow down. But onto the majors.

Both Lisa and Julie decided to concentrate on the seven races in the last couple of years. They looked at it as a great way to combine their love of running with travel. As Lisa says, “It’s the perfect vacation and I’m hooked on this kind of travel. It’s so fun to get to a new city, go for an exploration run, figure out what to do, where to eat and where to shop. Finding someone who enjoys the same pace as you makes a huge difference.”

So far, they have run Boston multiple times over, Chicago, Berlin, London, Paris, and New York, in Julie’s case. They’ll both run New York together this fall (it was on their schedule the year Sandy hit) and plan to cross Tokyo off the list in 2016. Lisa’s favorite so far remains Boston, but Julie’s heart is in New York, which she ran in 2001. “There was such incredible crowd support that year since it wasn’t long after 9/11,” she says. “Every fire station had fire trucks out, people ran with names from 9/11 on their shirts, and we got to start almost at the starting line, watching the elite women take off.”

What do the ladies recommend to folks who are considering tackling all the majors? Have fun, first and foremost. “Don’t sacrifice the fun for the run,” says Lisa. “Letting go of the perfect race can guarantee a great life experience. In the words of our fellow Chunnelers: ‘you’re ready, just run.'” Julie concurs: “Train so that you feel confident, but don’t make the trip just about the run. The run is just part of the adventure.”

I can tell you from their stories, Lisa and Julie have indeed made the most of these trips and had an amazing time.

Anyone else have the majors as their goal? Anyone run Tokyo, their one outstanding race? 

If you entered my MilestonePod giveaway, the winners are Jeff and Darlene. Congrats–I’ve sent you both an email.

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  1. says

    *bounces up and down* Me! Me! I’ve run Tokyo – in 2011 before I was ever remotely serious about any sort of time goal or training! It was a fantastic holiday and the race itself was great fun. I would definitely love to do it again at some point.

    – There is a lottery to get in, but it was relatively easy for foreigners to do so, although this was before it received Marathon Major status.
    – There are clearly marked and separated start corrals for you fast people :)
    – An early morning shakeout run is a great way to see the Imperial Palace.
    – Best race atmosphere I’ve experienced; there are people cheering all the way, and plenty of ‘unofficial’ race support.
    – I did not face any serious language barriers at the expo or before/ during the race, despite not speaking or reading any Japanese. At the expo, it was so interesting to see what products were hot in the Japanese running market. Running is really big in Japan, and there are some products that are found only on the Japanese market, like amino sports drinks, Soyjoy flavours, and shoe models.
    – Also, a nice bowl of ramen or udon is pretty much the perfect pre-marathon meal – lots of carbs, a fair bit of salt. Things might be trickier for a non-Japanese-speaking vegetarian though.

    What are you waiting for? :)
    Grace recently posted..May you get what you deserveMy Profile

  2. says

    I love all of this so much. I would absolutely love to follow in their footsteps someday and even take just ONE racing vacation with another mother runner :-) I have only crossed Boston off my “major” list but I really want to run Chicago. I fell in love with that city the first time I visited.
    Great post today! So inspiring! My new mantra – “You’re ready, just run.” Yep.
    Allie recently posted..No One Gets Addicted to LettuceMy Profile

  3. says

    I met a woman who hosted one of the Mother Runner parties, who’s run all the majors. She also has MS. So inspirational. Especially since I have no major health issues but struggle with the marathon distance.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..HappyMy Profile

  4. says

    Yes! I definitely want to do four of the marathon majors; London, NYC, Boston, and Chicago. Maybe Berlin if I can reach my running goals and get paid to be an elite there….i can dream right? 😛 I am doing Chicago this year so cant wait to check that one off! London will have to be when i am at my peak so all my friends and family from home can come watch :) So exciting, and so funny that certain marathons are considered the ones to do!
    Tina Muir recently posted..May is Osteoporosis Month and Sunshine Burgers ReviewMy Profile

  5. says

    They are awesome and agree with the notion of not sacrificing fun for the run. I would love to run all the majors. Only started running marathons last year did NYC and #4 this fall will be Chicago! Traveling and running are two of my favorite things. Plan a long life of running so hopefully one day…
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..AdvoCare 24 Day ChallengeMy Profile

  6. says

    Sounds so incredible!! And what a great goal when you don’t mind running for other reasons than personal bests.
    I would love to run in a vairety of countries as an excuse to travel more. I’d love to run the Victoria Fall Marathon in Zimbabwe and Zambia, Gold Coast Marathon in Queensland, Australia and the Lantau Mountain Marathon in Hong Kong. I’m sure I could add many more to my list!
    Abby recently posted..Spreading the love: Liebster AwardMy Profile

  7. says

    This sounds like SO much fun to me. I love that they added Paris and ‘chunneled’. I have a bunch of friends who just finished off with Tokyo. At this point, if I make it overseas for ONE major, I’ll be thrilled. At least come November, I’ll have the domestic majors complete. : )
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  9. says

    This is pretty neat, and quite funny – as local (to Singapore) runners dreaming of this challenge can EASILY cross Tokyo off their list, but the others – especially in the US – are much harder!

    Tokyo is popular among Singaporeans, as the weather is cool and it’s supposedly pretty well run, compared to what’s found in SE Asia.

    Anyway, if they swing through Singapore (it’s only an 8 hour detour!) on their way to/from Tokyo, put us in touch, we’ll show them around! :)
    Coach Holly @ Run With Holly recently posted..What’s it like to run in *insert country here*? Cathryn’s on the caper!My Profile

  10. says

    That’s quite an accomplishment and what a way to see wonderful parts of the world.
    I’m hoping to complete my US majors with NYC this Nov. As for the international, not so desirable, especially Tokyo. Much too far to travel for a marathon.
    Joanne recently posted..Tacoma to Seattle and BackMy Profile

  11. says

    This is so awesome! What an amazing journey and life accomplishment … and such a great way to experience some of these great cities! These two would be perfect for my Friday FITspiration series if they are interested in being interviewed. Love it! So inspiring! On my bucket list is to run a marathon in Europe, either Paris or Rome.
    Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted..Weekly Training Recap: I’m Baaaacck!My Profile