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13 February 2024   |   Marathon   |   

Michael Mulligan reaching for his final star at the Tokyo Marathon in memory of his wife

Michael’s journey into the world of running started 26 years ago when his beloved wife, Gunnhild, encouraged him to join her in charity runs. Gunnhild sadly passed away in 2020, stemming from complications following a serious heart surgery. From the fragments of grief emerged a strong determination to fulfil a promise – to complete the six World Marathon Majors, with only the Tokyo Marathon left to conquer.


When did you decide to run all the World Major Marathons and why?

After running the London Marathon five times, I felt it was time to take on a new challenge. I qualified for Boston and gained an entry in 2020. My wife was supposed to accompany me to Boston, but she was diagnosed with a serious heart issue that would require bypass surgery, she sadly passed away due to complications. This left my family and I devastated. And so, after completing Boston in 2022, I vowed to honour her memory by conquering the remaining Majors.

Why did you decide to start running?

Gunnhild’s infectious enthusiasm ignited a spark within me. Reluctantly, I joined her for a 10k race in London. From that moment on, I was hooked.

After completing all six, would you want to run any of them again?

Yes, I have already booked a place in the 2024 Berlin Marathon with Sports Tours. It had always been my intention to finish my Six Star journey in Berlin and whilst this will not be the case, personally it will be for me. My wife Gundhild was German, it feels like a ‘home’ race and it’s the event’s 50th anniversary so it will be an extra special occasion.

How have you prepared for your final star at the Tokyo Marathon?

Last year I ran the Berlin and New York Marathons, so I’m not starting from scratch. But I loosely follow an intermediate training schedule, building up my miles with a taper starting around 3 weeks before race day.

What’s your favourite World Marathon Major (so far)?

Chicago holds a special place in my heart! It’s probably the least celebrated but is a wonderful city and the course is flat. Boston and New York dominate America, but Chicago is a Cinderella Marathon in terms of the organisation, course, and weather. I had set myself a target time of 3:29:00 and finished 19 seconds ahead of my goal.

Why did you decide to run with Sports Tours International?

I wanted something convenient from start to finish, for logistical ease and peace of mind. With Sports Tours there is no issue of getting to the start line or being stressed about logistics. Sports Tours also do a pre-race briefing before the race and this is really helpful. The team have done marathons before, so they come with firsthand knowledge. Of course, the other major plus is that Sports Tours International have guaranteed entry.

What advice would you give to anyone considering doing the 6-star races?

Seize the opportunity. ‘Someday’ is not promised and ‘someday’ may not happen. It’s a big challenge, but if you are motivated then it’s possible. The memories are priceless.


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