The Abbott World Marathon Majors represent the pinnacle of global marathons, an annual set of challenges that demands both physical prowess and mental fortitude.
Comprising iconic races in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City, these events draw runners from across the globe, each a unique experience.
Completing just one of these major marathons is a feat in itself; however, an elite group has notched the completion of all six, marking a pinnacle achievement in long-distance running: Six Star Finishers.
One runner’s journey stands out in the array of Six Star Finishers: Rob Dalto.
In an extraordinary display of endurance and determination, Dalto etched his name into the records by conquering all six World Major Marathons in a single calendar year.
His remarkable feat drew attention not only for its athletic prowess but also for the underlying narrative that fueled his journey.
Entering the year, Dalto and his sister found themselves on the precipice of claiming their first Six Star medals, having only the Tokyo and London Marathons left to complete.
Their motivations, however, go beyond personal achievements; it was a tribute to their late father, who succumbed to cancer in 2019.
Dalto reflected, “We embarked on this Six Star journey as a way to remember him and stay bonded as a family.”
The roots of their endeavor traced back to a poignant moment – their father’s presence during their inaugural major marathon at the NYC Marathon in 2015.
The journey evolved organically as Dalto qualified for the Boston and Chicago Marathons and secured entry to the NYC Marathon through the local 9+1 program. The decision to include Berlin elevated the stakes, transforming the year into something unforgettable.
Dalto’s journey was not without its share of challenges.
A mere four weeks before the Tokyo Marathon — the inaugural race in his Six Star quest — he found himself in a walking boot, nursing an injury.
Uncertainty clouded his participation in subsequent races, with a new injury surfacing post-Tokyo, casting shadows over both the Boston and London Marathons.
Faced with the daunting prospect of two major races in the same week, Dalto deliberated the risks involved.
Yet, on the day of the Boston Marathon, he resolved to push through, declaring, “I decided the day of the Boston Marathon that I’d go for it, but if I was going to do it, I was going to have the time of my life… and I sure did.”
The aftermath of completing both the Boston and London Marathons left Dalto on the sidelines for two months due to injuries.
However, with the unwavering support of his tight-knit community, he made a triumphant return for the Chicago Marathon, achieving a personal best at the race.
“It’s been a remarkable year of ups and downs,” Dalto reflected.
Adopting New Training Methods
The preparation for Dalto’s races was as unpredictable as the races themselves.
Unforeseen challenges disrupted his original training, leading to what Dalto humorously described as a “messy” training regimen.
Amidst the chaos, renowned coach and scientist Jonah Rosner played a key role in steering Dalto toward each starting line with a focus on smarter and more sustainable training methods.
Dalto attributed the integration of cutting-edge technology — including VO2 testing, foot pressure mapping, and force plate testing — to his ability to train more intelligently.
While not every marathon aimed for a record-breaking time, Dalto underscored the varied inspirations he drew from each race, all connected by the indelible memory of his father.
“My fastest was 2:56 (Chicago), and my slowest was 5:24 (London), and both were deeply meaningful. London, I ran with my sister the whole race, and we finished holding hands in honor of our dad. Not every race needs to be a personal best to be enjoyed and fulfilling.”
Highlights From The Year
Reflecting on six distinct marathons, each offering unique experiences, Dalto singled out this year’s New York City Marathon as his favorite among the 24 he has run over his lifetime.
“New York City this year is my favorite race of all 24 marathons I’ve run. The energy and crowd support are unmatched; from the moment you hit Brooklyn, it is just electric.”
The race’s hometown feel, surrounded by friends and family, added to its significance.
Dalto also highlighted the inspirational figures he encountered throughout the year.
Among them were Thomas Eller, the first deaf-born runner to complete the World Marathon Majors; Tyler Swartz, who built a community of 10,000 runners united by the joy of running; and Simone Carniglia, the fastest Type 1 Diabetic runner to complete the World Major Marathons.
“It’s a sport full of ‘ordinary’ people who are doing truly extraordinary things all across the world.”
Where Does He Go From Here?
While Dalto’s plans for 2024 are not fully cemented, he confirmed his presence at the start line of the Tokyo Marathon to kick off the season. Intriguingly, up-and-coming races like Sydney have captured his attention, potentially finding a place in his calendar.
Undertaking the challenge of competing in all six World Marathon Majors requires more than individual effort; it demands a collective commitment. When asked about the best advice he received, Dalto shared the following.
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right either way. It’s not about running specifically, but it certainly applies,” he said, “Most advice or mantras that are true in life are true in running, and running can be a way to manifest action you want to apply to the rest of your life.”
He then added the best advice he would give to someone pondering new challenges in the running world.
“Widen your perspective of what running can add to your life. Look at the community and people around you and lean in. Running is a common language but has the power to connect people in ways that add abundance to your life.”
In Rob Dalto’s journey, marked by inspiration and resilience, we anticipate witnessing his future pursuits with eager anticipation. His story goes beyond athletic accomplishments, resonating as a testament to the human spirit and the unifying power of the global running community.