World Marathon Majors race enters final stage

Nairobi: Five women and one Kenyan man will be rubbing their hands with glee eyeing a share of the $1 million up for grabs as the fall marathon starting on Sunday starts off to end this year`s World Marathon Majors (WMM) campaign.

World Marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, Priscah Jeptoo, Rita Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop are still in pole position to clinch the women`s title which will see the winner pocket $500,000 while only Wilson Kipsang is in the running for the men`s title.

Kiplagat and Jeptoo will be in New York in November while Jeptoo will be lining up in Chicago. Cherop and Kipsang will be heading to Berlin Sep 29.

The 2012-13 WMM series includes the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City Marathons along with the London Olympics and Moscow World Championship Marathons. At the conclusion of the series in November, the top female and male marathoners, based on their total number of points, will each earn $500,000.

However, the attention will be on Kipsang, the only male athlete in the WMM top five competing in Berlin, will aim for victory. If the Kenyan, who won the 2012 London Marathon, wins in the German capital, he would move into second place in the series with 61 points, leaving him four points behind series leader Ethiopia`s Tsegaye Kebede.

In women`s series, only 25 points separate the top six women as the series looks ahead to Berlin. Kenya`s Cherop, currently fourth, will move to the top with 60 points with a victory in Berlin. She is the only woman in contention for the series title competing in Berlin.

After Berlin, the focus will shift to United States ahead of the Chicago Marathon Oct 13. Kenya`s Jeptoo and Ethiopia`s Atsede Baysa will be in Chicago. The duo may change the complexion of the series. Baysa, the defending champion in Chicago, is currently fifth but can tie Kenya`s Kiplagat in first place with 55 points with a repeat victory.

In the event of a first place tie, Kiplagat will win due the WMM scoring system which gives the victory to the athlete with the best head-to-head record during the scoring period.

Kiplagat`s runner-up finish in 2013 London gives her the advantage over Baysa`s fourth place finish. 2012 Chicago runner-up Jeptoo and the 2013 Boston Marathon champion, can take the series lead with a victory. A win would give her 65 points, 10 more than Kiplagat.

Then it will come to the finals in New York Nov 3. Olympic and World Champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda is in a strong position to take the WMM title. Currently second with 50 points, Kiprotich will line up in New York, the final marathon of the two-year series.

A win on New York`s tough course will give him 75 points. A runner-up finish would also give Kiprotich the victory through a tie with current WMM leader with 65 points, Ethiopia`s Tsegaye Kebede, who is not scheduled to compete in any races this year.

Like the men`s, the women`s series is likely to be decided in New York. Kiplagat currently leads the WMM standings with 55 points. After her gold medal in Moscow, she can seal victory in New York but she must contend with London Marathon winner Jeptoo, who aims to improve on her fifth place finish in the 2011-2012 WMM series.

Should the standings remain unchanged through Berlin and Chicago, neither Kiplagat nor Jeptoo would need a victory in New York to win the series.