By Todd Gray, Odyssey Health Club
A Journey of Perseverance, 15 Years in the Making
On November 5th, against the iconic backdrop of New York City, I completed the World Marathon Majors, an achievement that encompasses conquering six of the world’s most prestigious marathons: Boston, Chicago, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, and London.
A Marathon Odyssey: 2006 to 2023
The odyssey began in 2006, and my inaugural London Marathon post-2006 occurred in 2008. The journey stretched over 15 years, primarily due to the formidable challenge of securing a coveted spot in the Boston Marathon. It took me 14 attempts to overcome this significant barrier.
Since the inception of the series in 2006, slightly over 12,000 individuals have joined the elite ranks of those who have completed all six majors. To put this accomplishment in context, at the dawn of 2023, approximately 7,000 people had successfully summited Mount Everest.
The Real Challenge: Gaining Entry
Contrary to popular belief, the most arduous part of this marathon journey is not the actual running but gaining entry to each race. The hurdles are numerous, and I’ve encountered them firsthand.
- Lottery: A mere 1 in 30 chance for London, with almost 580,000 applicants last year. Since 2010 I have faced 13 consecutive years of disappointment in this potluck draw!
- Charity Places: The Boston Marathon’s allure demands a hefty price—often upwards of $10,000 raised for a charity spot.
- Run a Qualifying Time: Achieving speed is paramount. To secure one of Tokyo’s 50 spots, I would have to run under 2 hours and 42 minutes—an elite feat that eluded me despite a personal best of 2 hours and 58 minutes.
- Tour Package: An expensive alternative, with costs soaring up to £4,000 and years-long waitlists.
The Rigorous Path to the Starting Line
Once granted a coveted spot, the journey doesn’t ease up. Approximately four months of intense training for each marathon became my reality—running six days a week amidst work shifts and other commitments. My most demanding week saw me cover 65 miles, with a monthly mileage peak of about 260 miles, akin to a round trip from London to Cardiff
Overcoming Adversity: Broken Ankles and Pandemics
The path to the starting line is fraught with unexpected challenges. In 2020, a mere 10 weeks before the Tokyo Marathon, I faced a broken ankle—an incident that would have typically cost me my spot as Tokyo does not allow deferrals. However, the pandemic-induced cancellation of the event became both a reprieve and added pressure. The hiatus meant a three-year wait before I could set foot in Japan or the USA to complete my final two events.
There’s an inherent unpredictability in the time it takes to complete this series. Crossing the finish line was a culmination of delight and relief—an acknowledgment of the myriad obstacles conquered.
In completing the World Marathon Majors, I not only etched my name among an elite few but also discovered a reservoir of resilience within myself. The odyssey, marked by perseverance, sacrifice, and determination, stands as a testament to the spirit of human endurance.
As a fitness coach at Odyssey Health Club, I am honoured to share this journey with the community—a journey that exemplifies the relentless pursuit of extraordinary achievements.
Take Your Fitness to New Heights with Todd!
If Todd’s incredible journey through the World Marathon Majors has inspired you to lace up your running shoes or embark on a fitness adventure, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Todd, our seasoned fitness coach at Odyssey Health Club, is not only a marathon marvel but also a dedicated professional ready to guide you on your own wellness journey.