While amateur runners enjoy the ambience at big city marathons in the hunt for personal best times, top international athletes fight not only for the top places but also for important prize money.
After all, the prize money at marathons is vital, especially for the numerous world-class runners from Africa. For them, the city marathons are not about the atmosphere along the course or the sights, but about the fight against the clock and the competition.
Prize money for placing; bonuses for records and limits
Only the fastest athletes in the field are rewarded with attractive prize money that allows the long-term pursuit of the sport as a profession. World records, course records and time bonuses can significantly increase the prize money.
Up to 500,000 US dollars for the marathon world record
The biggest marathons in the world reward a marathon victory with 100,000 US dollars or even a little more. For world records, some organizers are even willing to pay up to half a million US dollars.
These marathons pay out very high prize money:
1) Boston Marathon prize money
The world's oldest marathon attracts top international athletes with record-breaking prize money. Although no marathon world records are possible at the Boston Marathon due to the point-to-point course, victory is nevertheless rewarded with $150,000 each. The runner-up and the runner-up can comfort themselves with half of the winner's bonus. For third place there is 40,000 US dollars and even for 10th place an "allowance" of 5,500 US dollars is paid out. The winners of the wheelchair classification will be rewarded with 25,000 US dollars.
For a time under the course record there is an additional 50,000 US dollars. Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot has become a rich man as a result of the Boston Marathon. The runner from Kenya earned around 500,000 US dollars from his four victories (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008).
In total, the runners are guaranteed prize money of more than 700,000 U.S. dollars.
2) Dubai Marathon prize money
The winner and female winner of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon were each awarded US$200,000 in 2018. For a marathon world record at that time, there would have been a whopping bonus of $100,000. So in total, a marathon world record in Dubai would have been worth US$300,000. In 2008, the Dubai Marathon was even announced with prize money of 245,000 U.S. dollars each for the winner and the winner - the highest value of all time. At that time, a world record would have been worth half a million US dollars.
In 2019, however, Dubai reduced the bonuses by more than half in some cases. Instead of 816,000 U.S. dollars, the top 10 received a total of only 385,000 U.S. dollars, including 100,000 U.S. dollars for each day's victory.
The world record bonus is not impossible in Dubai, by the way. For example, in 2019 winner Getaneh Molla from Ethiopia ran 2:03:34 hours, not even two minutes above the world record of Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39 hours).
3) Prize money New York City Marathon
The TCS New York City Marathon is not even close to being one of the fastest marathons in the world, but in terms of prize money, New York is one of the big players. Around 670,000 US dollars in prize money are on offer, of which the winner and the runner-up are each rewarded with just under 100,000 US dollars.
Another 50,000 U.S. dollars will be added to the prize money for run times under 2:05:30 hours (men) and under 2:22:30 hours (women). This is a difficult task, because as of 2020 the course records are 2:05:06 hours and 2:22:31 hours respectively.
4) Chicago Marathon prize money
Winners of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon can also expect annual prize money of $100,000, plus another $75,000 for a course record. There are further bonuses for certain time limits.
The big earner in 2019 was Brigid Kosgei, who improved the then marathon world record by more than a minute.
5) Tokyo Marathon prize money
In 2019, the Tokyo Marathon offered a prize money of $370,800, including $98,300 each for the winners. A new course record is guaranteed a reward of US$26,700.
Also well-paid are the wheelchair racers, with nearly US$10,000 in victory bonuses.
6) Seoul Marathon prize money
Asia's major organizers are luring top international athletes to participate with ever-increasing prize money. For 2020, the Seoul International Marathon offered 80,000 US dollars for the winners, provided that a time of under 2:10 (men) or 2:24 hours (women) is run. Unfortunately, no one collected the prize money because the event had to be cancelled due to the Corona pandemic.
For a new world record, people are even prepared to pay 500,000 US dollars (men) or 300,000 US dollars (women). But there are also big bonuses for world-class times. Times under 2:04 hours are rewarded with 150,000 US dollars. For a course record there are 100,000 US dollars (men) and 50,000 US dollars (women).
7) Prize money London Marathon
In 2019, the Virgin London Marathon had distributed a prize money of 313,000 US dollars and an additional 850,000 US dollars for time bonuses. So in the London Marathon, the focus is on fast times. The winners were rewarded with a fixed sum of 55,000 US dollars each.
However, this prize money was almost halved for the elite race in 2020 due to the Corona pandemic. There was $30,000 each for the winners, the same amount as the runner-up had received in 2019.
In 2021, the prize money for the winners was increased again to $55,000. In addition, there were bonuses of between 50,000 and 150,000 US dollars for outstanding times. Thus, times under 2:17:30 hours and 2:02:00 hours are rewarded with 150,000 US dollars.
8) Prize money Paris Marathon
By European standards, the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon is very generous. Both the winner and the runner-up receive 50,000 euros as a reward for their performance, but only if they run under a given time. This limit of 2:11:45 hours for the men is not a big hurdle for the top athletes anyway, and the limit is also realistically achievable for the women.
The other podium places will also be well paid with 30,000 euros and 20,000 euros respectively. There is prize money for the top 10, provided they stay under the time limit given above.
9) Prize money Berlin Marathon
There are no current official figures for prize money at the Berlin Marathon. In 2018, a prize money of 230,000 euros plus time bonuses was announced. Of this, 40,000 euros went to each of the winners. There is an additional 50,000 euros for a world record or 30,000 euros for winning with a time under 2:04 (men) or 2:19 (women) hours.
In 2021, prize money of 20,000 euros was offered for the winners in each case, 10,000 euros for second place and still 1,000 euros for 10th place. The top 10 in the women's and men's races were thus awarded prizes.
Berlin can therefore not compete with the big marathons overseas in terms of prize money. Thanks to the flat course, however, most world records have been run at the Berlin Marathon this millennium.
10) Prize money Vienna City Marathon
Austria's largest marathon cannot compete with the world's top marathons in terms of prize money. However, a victory at the Vienna Marathon is definitely worthwhile for the top athletes.
Since 2017, prize money of 15,000 euros has been offered for the winner and the female winner. However, this can be significantly increased by time bonuses and course records. In 2022, the aim was to lead the athletes towards the record with a course record bonus of 10,000 euros. This was also achieved by Vibian Chepkirui, who therefore collected a total of 25,000 euros.
Overview prize money of international marathons
Marathons with the highest prize money:
- Boston Marathon: 150,000 US dollars
- Dubai Marathon: 100,000 US dollars
- New York City Marathon: 100.000 US-Dollar
- Chicago Marathon: 100,000 US dollars
- Tokyo Marathon: 98,300 US dollars
- Seoul Marathon: 80,000 US dollars
- London Marathon 55,000 US dollars
- Paris Marathon 50.000 Euro
- Berlin Marathon 40.000 Euro
- Vienna City Marathon 15.000 Euro
Note: The prize money for the marathon winner of ten selected international marathons is shown.
Extra: Nagoya Women's Marathon
At the Nagoya Women's Marathon, a prize money of 250,000 US dollars was announced for the year 2022. The organizer did not provide any information about the distribution of the prize money.
The Uhuru Classic Nairoby City Marathon will offer total prize money of 390,000 euros from 2022.