What is a Six Star Marathon Finisher [146 Stats & Facts]

Posted on 22 October, 2021 by Paul Ronto

One of the ultimate feats in the running world is to tick off a major marathon. There’s a special breed of runner though that says one just isn’t enough. 

For those, the World Marathon Majors began a program in 2007 to incentivize runners to complete all 6 world marathons: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York. Once accomplished you are officially a “Six Star Finisher”!

Here are all the stats and facts you need to know about Six Star finishers and how to plan to accomplish this feat for yourself. 

What is a Six Star Finisher and how many people have done this?

  • Six Star Finishers are runners who have completed all 6 of the Major Marathon races. 
  • As of October 2021, the total of Six Star Finishers was 7,123. 
  • Currently, there are another 4,386 Five Star Finishers on the cusp of finishing all 6 races. 
  • There is no time limit within which you must complete all six races.
  • There is no qualifying race time required to earn your Six Star Medal, but you must be part of the official finisher results so a DNF or finishing past the allowed time on a race does not count.
  • Anyone who runs one of the six World Marathon Majors is on the path to being a Six Star Finisher.

How long does it take to become a 6 Star finisher?

  • Almost half of all Six Star finishers (48.1%) got their 6th star in 2019.
  • In the first 6 years of the Six Star program (started in 2007), only .8% of the total 6 Stars were awarded.
  • It takes an average of 7.4 years to obtain all 6 stars.
  • 75% of finishers earned their 6th star between 3-9 years. 
  • 19 runners earned all six stars in their first year of running major marathons.
  • It took 30 years for 10 runners to complete all six races.

What’s the gender breakdown of 6 Star finishers?

  • 69.59% of Six Star recipients are male with 12.96% being North American men. 
  • 28.68% of finishers are women with 8.93% being North American women.
  • The ratio of female to male 6 Star Finishers is 29% worldwide, and 41% in North America. 

Where are the 6 Star finishers from?

  • 84% of total finishers are accounted for in the top 20 countries worldwide, with North American runners accounting for a whopping 22%.
  • The US accounts for 18.1% of all 6 Star finishers reigning as the number one country to represent this elite group. 
  • Great Britain (10.5%), Germany (5.7%), Italy (5.6%), and China (5.1%) round out the top 5 representative countries.
  • Japan, which hosts one of the 6 major marathons, is 9th in the rankings with 3.5% of the overall Six Star finishers. 

What race is the fastest for Six Star Finishers?

  • The Berlin Marathon is the fastest course for Six Star Finishers with an overall average time of 3:57:57 (4:14:15 for women and 3:51:12 for the men).
  • The Boston Marathon is surprisingly the slowest race among the 6 Star Finishers with an overall time of 4:06:10 (4:19:45 for women and 4:00:24 for the men).
Average finish time per Marathon for 6-Star Finishers
  Female Male Overall
Berlin 4:14:15 3:51:12 3:57:57
Chicago 4:15:29 3:53:11 3:59:48
New York City 4:17:22 3:56:49 4:02:54
London 4:20:35 3:57:59 4:04:40
Tokyo 4:20:57 3:59:21 4:05:41
Boston 4:19:45 4:00:24 4:06:10

Which countries have the fastest 6 Star Racers?

  • Poland is the fastest overall with an overall average finisher time of 3:43:35 (3:48:40 for women and 3:43:03 for the men)
  • Australia rounds out the top 5 with an overall average finisher time of 3:54:45 (4:08:57 for women and 3:47:03 for the men)
  • The USA places 19th overall with an average finisher time of 4:10:58 (4:25:31 for women and 4:00:55 for the men)
Fastest Six Star Finishers by average finishing times by country
Country Average female finish time Average male finish time Global Average finish time Total finishers
Poland 3:48:40 3:43:03 3:43:35 55
Great Britain 4:11:23 3:40:07 3:50:00 553
Spain 4:10:20 3:48:15 3:50:10 213
Switzerland 4:15:19 3:49:36 3:54:13 108
Australia 4:14:36 3:45:16 3:54:45 155

What order do most runners complete their Six Stars in?

First Maraton

  • The New York City marathon is the top pick as Six Star runners first major with 33.6% starting in the Big Apple. 
  • NYC combined with the Berlin Marathon accounts for 60.3% of first races for Six Star finishers.
  • Tokyo and London only make up 11.7% of racer’s first choice, most likely due to their entry system for non-residents and the expense of getting to these locations.

Second Marathon

  • 27.5% of runners opt for the Berlin Marathon as their second race. 
  • The Chicago Marathon comes in second for 2nd race at 20.3%
  • Again, Tokyo and London are the last options for a racer second race with Tokyo just attracting 4.4% or runners for race number two and London sit at just 11.6%

Third Marathon

  • Chicago is the most likely race for the 3rd Six Star race with 23.8% picking the Windy City. 
  • Tokyo is the last option at 7.1%

Fourth Marathon

  • Chicago and London are equally likely as picks for the 4th race in the series at 20.4%. 
  • Tokyo again is last, but the percentage is rising with 12.5% of the field headed east to the island nation. 
  • NYC is close to last with just 13% headed to Manhatten for race number 4. 

Fifth Marathon

  • London and Tokyo now round out the top two picks for the 5th race with 24.4% and 22.7% respectively. 
  • Berlin falls to the bottom of the list with most people opting to run in Germany earlier with just 8.1% of the field headed there for race number 5. 

Sixth Marathon (Last of the series)

  • Over 50% (50.8% to be exact) of racers chasing all Six Stars keep Tokyo for the end.
  • 17.9% get their Sixth Star in London.
  • Chicago (5.8%) and Berlin (2.6%) are the last choices of where to finish this amazing feat. 

What’s the most likely order to run all six races in?

  • There are 720 different possible ways to accomplish running all 6 races. Only 563 have actually happened. 
  • The majority of runners agree Tokyo is the best place to finish your Sixth Star.
  • In North America (which hosts 3 of the six races) it makes sense that runners tick off all three majors there first, Chicago, Boston, then NYC. 
  • Across the rest of the world, runners bounce around the globe to finish the marathon series starting in NYC, then to Berlin, back to Chicago, across the pond to London, back again to the US for Boston, and to the other side of the planet for their final in Tokyo.
What order do most runners complete all 6 races in?
  Rest of the world North America
Marathon 1 NYC Chicago
Marathon 2 Berlin Boston
Marathon 3 Chicago NYC
Marathon 4 London Berlin
Marathon 5 Boston London
Marathon 6 Tokyo Tokyo

How many miles would you have to travel to run all 6 races?

  • If you followed the paths of most races from around the world, you’d have to travel 22,221 miles at a very minimum to finish all 6 races. 
  • If you followed the North American route you’d have 47% less travel and only have to cover 11,786 miles to check off all 6 races. 
  • ***This assumes minimum travel and being able to go from one race to another without traveling back home. Actual distances would be considerably farther. 
How many miles would you have to travel to complete all 6 Marathon Majors
Rest of the world Miles North America Miles
NYC to Berlin 3965 Chicago to Boston 984
Berlin to Chicago 4339 Boston to NYC 215
Chicago to London 3945 NYC to Berlin 3965
London to Boston 3269 Berlin to London 684
Boston to Tokyo 6703 London to Tokyo 5938
Total Miles 22,221   11,786

2019 Six Star Finisher stats

The most recent and reliable stats on Six Star finishers for all six marathon majors come from before the pandemic’s chaos on the racing industry from the 2019 races. 

Tokyo

  • 731 Total Six Star Finishers
  • 53 Nationalities represented
  • 49 years old was the average Six Star Finisher age
  • 20 years and 7 months old was the youngest finisher
  • 79 years and 8 months old what the oldest finisher

Boston

  • 563 Total Six Star Finishers
  • 55 Nationalities represented
  • 49 years and 6 months old was the average Six Star Finisher age
  • 26 years and 6 months old was the youngest finisher
  • 83 years and 2 months old what the oldest finisher

London

  • 554 Total Six Star Finishers
  • 53 Nationalities represented
  • 50 years and 9 months old was the average Six Star Finisher age
  • 24 years old was the youngest finisher
  • 80 years and 8 months old what the oldest finisher

Berlin

  • 95 Total Six Star Finishers
  • 25 Nationalities represented
  • 47 years and 7 months old was the average Six Star Finisher age
  • 23 years and 6 months old was the youngest finisher
  • 72 years and 10 months old what the oldest finish

Chicago

  • 159 Total Six Star Finishers
  • 30 Nationalities represented
  • 50 years and 6 months old was the average Six Star Finisher age
  • 28 years old was the youngest finisher
  • 74 years and 11 months old what the oldest finish

New York City

  • 172 Total Six Star Finishers
  • 34 Nationalities represented
  • 48 years and 3 months old was the average Six Star Finisher age
  • 22 years and 11 months old was the youngest finisher
  • 71 years old what the oldest finish

How do you get your official Six Star Medal?

  • Runners must notify the World Marathon Majors they are completing their sixth race in an upcoming marathon prior to the race. 
  • Runners will receive their Six Star Medal at the finish line. 
  • Runners can add past races to their online profile and claim six stars retrospectively and be sent their Six Star Medal.
  • All Six Star Finishers are included in the World Marathon Majors Hall of Fame.
  • Completing the same major marathon multiple times does not count as multiple stars, you need to finish each race at least once. 
  • Marathon Majors completed virtually do not count towards your Six Star Medal.

More Marathon Info

Want to know more about the World Marathon Majors? Check out our other posts on the subject:

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Use of content

  • We are happy to give interviews on the topic at any time. For this purpose or for print-use questions please reach out to Paul Ronto at paul@runrepeat.com.
  • Feel free to use material from this page in any web coverage of the topic, we just ask that you refer, and link back to this original source.

References

  • https://www.worldmarathonmajors.com/six-star
  • https://www.worldmarathonmajors.com/six-star/majors
  • https://skief-labs.medium.com/world-major-marathon-6-starholders-a-complete-analysis-77d5bcf4e175
  • https://www.worldmarathonmajors.com/six-star/hall-of-fame
  • https://www.worldmarathonmajors.com/six-star/how-it-works
  • https://www.nyrr.org/tcsnycmarathon/getinspired/photos-and-stories/2019/abbott-world-marathon-majors-six-star-finishers
Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.