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What Does It Take To Run All Six Marathon Majors?

The tale of two women who went around the world to complete every World Marathon Major.

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Whether finishing the WMM takes you a few years or a few decades, the accomplishment will earn you entry into the small and storied community of Six Star Finishers. Here are two of their tales.

Kara Bauer
For runners in Hopkinton, the town where the Boston Marathon starts, qualifying for the race is a common goal. Fitting the profile, Kara Bauer, 49, did just that. She hired a coach, trained, qualified, trained some more and ran Boston in 2011.

Then she thought, What’s next? For Bauer, who works for IBM, it was the New York City Marathon, and with the Chicago Marathon already under her belt, she realized she was halfway through a Six Star Finisher journey. Bauer and her “very, very supportive” husband decided the international races would be their family vacations.

“Being able to run all of these events is definitely a big commitment,” says Bauer, who used airline miles to help defray costs.

Related: 26.2 Facts About The Boston Marathon

She recommends using a tour company to help but acknowledges lower-stress logistics come at a cost. While programs may vary, she especially appreciated meeting fellow runners at pre-race pasta dinners and meet-and-greet parties.

Bauer followed the same training program she used to qualify for Boston for every major race. She also credits “being biomechanically blessed” as the reason she’s never been injured.

Tokyo in 2013 was Bauer’s last major and 10th marathon, and she decided it was also going to be her last. Until it wasn’t. “I realized I couldn’t not have a marathon on my calendar,” she says. “Now my goal is to find truly unique marathons both in the states and abroad.”

Bauer’s Official Times:

  • Chicago Marathon, 2010, 4:31:02
  • Boston Marathon, 2011, 3:48
  • New York City Marathon, 2011, 4:17:07
  • London Marathon, 2012, 4:35:21
  • Tokyo Marathon, 2013, 4:40:26
  • Berlin Marathon, 2013, 4:44:47

Cindy Bishop

When she became ill during a family trip to Spain, Cindy Bishop, 55, decided she needed an excuse to move around. While walking the hospital halls, she made a goal to run a marathon when she became healthy. The 2009 Disney World Marathon was her first marathon and New York City was her first major.

“Running the New York Marathon was one of the highlights of my life,” says Bishop, an attorney from Merritt Island, Fla. “I ran for Fred’s Team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York. When I ran by the hospital at mile 17 and saw all of the kids, both former and current patients, it was incredible.”

After the race, her husband suggested the idea of running the WMM. Bishop qualified for the Boston Marathon with a 32-minute PR and was on her way.

“No other sport allows a hobbyist to participate in the same events as the pros of the sport,” Bishop says. “You get to be part of something big! It’s an exciting way to meet great people and go to cool places.”

Related: The Magic Of The Tokyo Marathon

Even with planning, the stress can take a toll. Bishop, who works with a trainer, ended up running the Tokyo Marathon (the final one in her quest) with a broken ankle. She now jokingly claims to be the first American woman with a broken ankle to become a Six Star Finisher at Tokyo! Despite the setback, she was planning her next adventures before completing the WMM.

“You meet such wonderful people from all over the world and they all give me more reasons to run,” says Bishop, who is now working toward completing a marathon in every state as well as one on every continent. “This is a just such a fun hobby. I love it!”

Bishop’s Official Times

  • New York City Marathon, 2009, 5:11:08
  • Boston Marathon, 2011, 4:20:08
  • Berlin Marathon, 2011, 4:25:43
  • London Marathon, 2012, 4:18:05
  • Chicago Marathon, 2012, 4:01:43
  • Tokyo Marathon, 2013, 4:57:12

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