Shhh…. Eliud Kipchoge & Gotytom Gebreslase won the 2022 World Marathon Majors series titles
November 8, 2022
The Abbott World Marathon Majors crowned its series champions for the 2022 season on Sunday in New York. Or at least, we think they did: there was so little fanfare about the announcement that it’s hard to say whether it happened at all.
For the record, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya and Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia were your 2022 series champions, each earning $50,000 for their work this year It would have been $250,000 until five weeks ago, when, with half of the season already completed, the WMM announced it was drastically reducing the series’ prize money for runners. One would think there would be grounds for a lawsuit, but of course, an agent is never going to encourage an athlete to sue the majors as it would hurt their ability to get future appearance fees.
Kipchoge, who won the Tokyo and Berlin Marathons this year, actually finished in a tie atop the standings with Evans Chebet (who won Boston and New York), but since the WMM tweeted that Kipchoge was the champion, he evidently won the final tiebreaker, a vote of the WMM race directors.
The outcome of the women’s title was actually still in doubt during the final mile of Sunday’s NYC Marathon. If Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter had outdueled Sharon Lokedi for the win, she and Gebreslase would have finished tied atop the standings with 34 points, sending it to a vote of the race directors to crown a champion. As it happened, Lokedi prevailed, handing the series title to Gebreslase, who finished 3rd in Tokyo, 1st at Worlds, and 3rd in New York (only an athlete’s two best results count toward the series).
It’s clear now that the World Marathon Majors have become far more focused on the mass races at their events as opposed to the elite athletes — something WMM CEO Dawna Stone admitted to Runner’s World last month. After Albert Korir won the WMM last year in New York, he was presented with the series trophy in front of the media. Both of their series champions, Kipchoge and Gebreslase, were in New York on Sunday, but there was no presentation at the post-race press conference this time around.
In fact, on the WMM website there is no virtually recognition that the 2022 series has concluded or that Kipchoge and Gebreslase were the champions. You can click on the “Elite Series” link and then click on the “leaderboards” link to check the standings. But unless you knew the series was over, it would be difficult to know Kipchoge and Gebreslase were the official winners. If you go to the WMM press section, there’s an article about Susannah Scaroni and Marcel Hug winning the wheelchair series titles, but the WMM’s NYC recap doesn’t even mention the winners of the running series titles. As far as we can tell, this tweet is the only recognition from any source about Kipchoge and Gebreslase winning the 2022 WMM series titles.
The WMM series standings have never been the easiest to follow, and it’s too much to ask for the series title to come down to a head-to-head showdown in the final race, as it did between Sammy Wanjiru and Tsegay Kebede in Chicago in 2010. But between the massive cut to its prize money and the lack of attention paid to its series champions — one of whom is the most famous distance runner in the world — even the WMM doesn’t seem interested in promoting the race for the WMM series title anymore.