The Abbott World Marathon Majors series XII gets underway in Berlin, Germany on Sunday (16 September) – the first of six major marathons taking place around the world over the next twelve months.
In April this year, Swiss stars Marcel Hug and Manuela Schaer were crowned Series XI champions in the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions.
Both Para athletes will be hoping to kick-start the defence of their titles with a win in Berlin this weekend; both have won the event in the German capital for the last two years.
Schaer denied USA’s formidable wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden two consecutive titles after impressive victories in London, Berlin, New York and Tokyo during series XI.
Excited to start
The 33-year-old, who finished runner-up to McFadden in Series X, returns to Berlin after winning 1,500m and 5,000m T54 gold on the track at last month’s European Championships in the German capital.
“I am very excited for the new Series to start. I am always looking forward to getting back on the road after the track season,” said Schaer. “I always find it easier to adjust from track to marathon then from marathon to track.
“It' s my goal to start the Series with a good result. I think it would mentally help me. But I will take every marathon at a time and try not to think too much about the whole 12 months in front of me and all the marathons to come.”
Schaer will face a tough field including McFadden, who did not race the marathon in Berlin one year ago after her flight to Europe was cancelled.
McFadden has over 20 major marathon wins to her name and, with no major track championships this year, has been training hard for the marathon season.
Swiss racer Sandra Graf – a three-time winner in Berlin – and American Susannah Scaroni are also among the elite women’s field.
Three in a row?
Hug meanwhile is chasing his third consecutive AbbottWMM series victory having dominated marathon racing in recent years – he has won 11 of the last 15 major marathons, including Paralympic gold in 2016.
The men’s line up in Berlin also includes Britons David Weir and JohnBoy Smith, who finished first and second respectively at the recent Great North Run in the north east of England.
Weir won an historic eighth London marathon title this year, while Smith, who trains at the Weir Archer Academy, finished second to Hug in New York last November before going on to clinch Commonwealth silver in Australia’s Gold Coast this year.
Watch out too for Japan’s Kota Hokinoue and Ryota Yoshida, who finished second and third respectively in Berlin twelve months ago, as well as USA’s Daniel Romanchuk, who finished third in Boston and London in April.
The full list of marathons that make up the Abbott World Marathon Majors series XII is as follows:
• BMW-BERLIN MARATHON: Sunday 16 September 2018
• Bank of America Chicago Marathon: Sunday 7 October 2018
• TCS New York City Marathon: Sunday 4 November 2018
• Tokyo Marathon: Sunday 3 March 2019
• Boston Marathon: Monday 15 April 2019
• Virgin Money London Marathon: Sunday 28 April 2019
• BMW-BERLIN MARATHON: Sunday 29 September 2019
Athletes score points in the series for their finishing place in each race across the year, allocated as follows:
1st place – 25 points
2nd place – 16 points
3rd place – 9 points
4th place – 4 points
5th place - 1 point
Points from an athlete’s best four races count towards the total - or best five during years with a Paralympic Games or World Championship marathon. The winners of the men’s and women’s series take home USD 50,000 each with USD 25,000 and USD 10,000 going to second and third respectively.