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The Sydney Marathon is on a lengthy mission of its own; to become a world-renowned ‘Major’


sydney marathon

The Sydney Marathon is attempting to do something that will etch the city onto the globe’s running map; legitimately an opportunity for runners to be a part of history.

Sydney’s out to gain the status that the likes of New York, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo all enjoy – Major status. The Sydney Marathon is attempting to become one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Unlike most of those events, Sydney’s set to be a more inclusive version; casuals, not just elite runners, are invited to enter. And with registrations now open, here’s everything worth knowing about the 2023 running of the Sydney Marathon.

Along with a slight rebranding – formerly known as the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival – the extended cutoff time and new course are of note for all runners and spectators.

Sydney Marathon
Sydney Marathon | How many marathon courses include a landmark as iconic as the Harbour Bridge?

Sydney Marathon’s mission to become an Abbott World Marathon Major

The Sydney Marathon is chasing a higher status; to become one of the world majors. Those marathon events are officially part of a collection called the Abbott World Marathon Majors. The official body has recognised the Sydney Marathon’s candidacy ambitions.

And it’s a real ‘marathon’ of a process.

Sydney Marathon
Sydney Marathon | How many marathon courses include a landmark as iconic as the Opera House?

To become a Major, Sydney’s race must meet strict eligibility criteria for three years in a row; right now the event is in its second year – considered a Candidate Race – of evaluation AbbottWMM.

If successful, our very own Sydney Marathon will join the prestigious Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, TCS London Marathon, BMW-BERLIN Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City Marathons.

It’s not just Sydney shooting for Major status; South Africa’s Cape Town Marathon and China’s Chengdu Marathon are also undergoing the assessment process. Only three candidate spots are available.

What’s the Abbott World Marathon Major candidacy criteria?

Candidates must tick off certain thresholds around participation numbers, organisational standards, certification, event sustainability and legacy. What Sydney has on its side is its legacy roots to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Tigest Girma Getachew claimed victory in the Female category of the 2022 Sydney Marathon.
Tigest Girma Getachew claimed victory in the Female category of the 2022 Sydney Marathon. Here’s a full breakdown of her run.

Sydney Marathon distances

It’s not just the 42.195 kilometre course around Sydney that runners of all levels can sign up for. Entrants can take in the picturesque city streets four different ways:

  • Full marathon
  • 21.1km
  • 10km
  • Family Fun Run 3.5km

On top of that, the event also has a wheelchair course. Every year, the event draws most of the world’s best wheelchair racing athletes to the harbour city.

Sydney Marathon course record

Male | 2:07:03 | Moses Kibet (Kenya), 2022

Female | 2:24:33 | Stella Barsosio (Kenya), 2019

What hasn’t hurt the legitimacy of Sydney’s Major claims is some of the times that were clocked in 2022, including a new record. Tournament organisers worked overtime recruiting some of the world’s best marathon athletes.


When is the Sydney Marathon?

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Formerly known as the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, the marathon will take place on Sunday September 17, 2023. The slight brand change is deliberate; transitioning into line with other world majors.

September is a prime moment of the year to put on a marathon that draws global interest; the mornings are still crisp, it’s not quite yet harsh and scorching outside during the morning, but Sydney will still likely shine in all its glory (pending the forecast, of course).

ALSO READ | Your updated guide to the biggest marathon events in Australia this year

How to sign up for the Sydney Marathon

You can sign up for the Sydney Marathon via the marathon website. Early bird registrations are open now, so get in quick before ticket prices go up.

Key dates to remember are as follows:

Early Bird Entries | Up until 31 July 2023

Standard Entries | Up until 31 August  2023

Late Entries | Up until midnight 16 September 2023

The Sydney Marathon course

Sydney Marathon course

What else Sydney Marathon organisers want you to know

“No city in the world has a better combination of natural beauty, love of sport and iconic landmarks for a marathon than Sydney,” NSW Minister for Tourism John Graham said of the event.

“The NSW government is proud to support this push for Sydney to become a Marathon Major. It could see Sydney taking a leap onto the world marathon stage and could see huge tourism benefit for greater Sydney.

“This event is a great example of the high participation events we’d like to make a bigger priority for tourism funding.” 

Sydney Marathon elites, Sinead Diver, Judith Jeptum Korir, Tamirat Tola, Brett Robinson |
L to R: Sinead Diver, Judith Jeptum Korir, Tamirat Tola, Brett Robinson | Sydney Marathon elites

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