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The most rewarding athletics events in the world

By | November 11th 2008

It’s not by coincidence that out of 20 marathons in which world champion Catherine Ndereba has started, 15 have been in one of the ‘Big Five’ city marathons.

This is because the London, New York, Boston and Chicago and Berlin marathons rank as the highest paying events on the planet.

Glittering Career

Ndereba, who has grossed Sh139.249m in prize money alone in her glittering career, has made six appearances at Boston, five in New York, three in Chicago and one in London.

It seems that ‘The Great’ knows which side of her bread is buttered.

According to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS) website, www.arrs.net, the London Marathon remains the most rewarding distance event on earth.

Since the event was established in 1981, a total of $12,381,880 (Sh928.641m) has been distributed as prize money for top performers.

The New York Marathon follows on $12,116,696 (Sh908.752m) with Chicago ($11,846,750/Sh888.506m), Boston ($10,466,700/Sh785.002) and Berlin ($4,839,020/Sh362.926) rounding off the ‘Big Five’.

The London Marathon has paid out the most to male athletes ($6,585,730/Sh493.929m) with New York ruling the roost for female runners with $5,842,794 (Sh438.209m) distributed in prize money to women.

However, the ‘Big Five’ could now be the ‘Big Six’.

The ninth edition of the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon staged on January 16 became the richest ever race with a prize pool of $1m (Sh75m).

The winners, Ethiopian pair, Haile Gebrselassie, who clocked 2:04:53 (third fastest in history) and women’s victor, Berhane Adere took home $250,000 (Sh18.75m) each.

Had Gebre lowered his earlier 2:04:26 world record, he would have earned a $1m (Sh75m) bonus

Adere, who ran a course best of 2:22:42 would also have earned a similar windfall had she obliterated Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 world record.

The event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and staged under the aegis of the Dubai Sports Council.

The Richest Race

It is amazing to note that in 1980, the richest race in terms of prize kitty was the Atlantic City event staged on September 21 in New Jersey, where $50,000 (Sh3.75m) was distributed.

According to the ARRS website, Chicago Marathon was the first to break the $1m barrier when it paid out $1, 146, 200 (Sh85.965m).

That had much to do with the fact that Radcliffe broke Ndereba’s record of 2:18:47 set the previous year in the same course with a run of 2:17:18 and a huge payout for that was made. Incidentally, that remains the highest figure paid out for winners at a marathon to date.

However, to compete in these races, one has to be invited by organisers, thus making it difficult for runners to also break into the starting line-ups.

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