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Game Theory and The World Marathon Majors

By Benjamin Jones

The World Marathon Majors (WMM) Series Prize was enacted in 2006 as a million dollar prize handed out annually to the top man and woman competing at five of the most important marathons. This paper considers the motivations behind setting up this prize, as well as the theoretical rationale for its existence and whether the empirical data supports these results. We find that the game theory model supports the ideas that the World Marathon Majors organizers state as their goals in creating the prize, but at the same time, there is not much empirical support as of yet to support any quantifiable changes within marathoning in the past few years. The regressions do not produce statistically significant data for finishing times decreasing even though the world record has been broken three times in these races since the implementation of the WMM. This may be due to the small number of observations and the fact that the series is so new. However, there are other areas of interest, such as an increase in World Record-breaking times or an increase in overall publicity, that may justify such a lucrative prize for these races. These topics are not included within the regressions and could be an area for further study.

 

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Advisor: Curtis Taylor, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C7, C73, L83 | Tagged: Game Theory, Marathon, Sports Economics, Tournament Theory

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