It’s no secret that nutrition can make or break our marathon performance. And, it’s also no secret that many of us rely on on-course nutrition and fluid options to support our marathon performance. During my six-star journey, I found it fascinating how different the nutrition and hydration options are at each Abbott World Marathon Major race. 

Let’s take a look at the nutrition offerings at each race in 2023 – 2024. And, as a sports dietitian, share some of my tips to utilize these nutrition options for your best performance. Please note these offerings can change from year to year, so please check the course guide & websites before you run your next race listed below.


The course is flat and cool. With multiple out-and-back sections, you can catch the leaders and other runners which is unique to this World Marathon Major. Rules are strict and enforced here. You cannot take any hydration accessories onto the course. No handhelds. No hydration packs. No flasks. The other thing to note is you cannot throw your trash on the ground during the marathon. All cups must be thrown away in a trash can. You can carry all of your own gels, chews, and snacks. But, they ask that you keep all nutrition wrappers on your body to discard after the race in your own trash. 

Nutrition: There are 15 aid stations on course. Nutrition offerings vary widely throughout the course. If you’re running Tokyo for fun, you could have a full meal out on the course! If you are running Tokyo for your best on the day, please carry all your fuel. For many of us, the fuel offerings are new and items we have not practiced with in training. They offer an assortment of foods from 17 to 38 kilometers, including pickled plum, chocolate, azuki-bean paste, cream-filled rolls, banana, calorie mate, glucose, salty candy, and doll-shaped pancakes. 

Hydration: All hydration options are served in paper cups. They offer water every 2 – 3 kilometers starting at 5k throughout the race. They also provide Pocari Sweat every 5k. The fluid tables are very long and are labeled 0 – 9. They encourage runners to grab fluids off the table that correlate to the last number on their bib. For example, my bib number was 88065, so I stopped at the #5 tables for water. It was not strictly enforced and I saw many runners using other tables. 

Meghann’s Tips: If you plan to use Pocari Sweat, order some in advance and train with it a few times to make sure you like it and your GI tract likes it too. Nothing new on race day. If you do not already, practice putting all your fuel wrappers back into your pockets during training. 


A late start, Athlete’s Village, and no baggage check in the village means you need to be prepared for a full morning of fueling and hydration as you head to the buses. Pack your second breakfast & a bottle of hydration in addition to your race fueling. You can carry a handheld bottle or hydration flask. But, you cannot use a hydration pack with a bladder.

Nutrition: Maurten is the on-course fuel option at Boston. Maurten gel ‘depots’ are stationed at miles 11.8, 17, and 21.5. There are two gel options here: Gel 100 and Gel 100 CAF. Everyone should be fueling multiple times before mile 11.8, so if you plan to use on-course gels, please pack enough to get you to 11.8 miles. If you do not use Maurten, pack all your fuel. 

I recommend that we strategically time our fueling in the front half of the race to take a gel around mile 15 to have fuel ready for the Newton hills. I do not recommend fueling while running uphill, take fuel on the downhills when possible. Taking a gel can increase our perceived exertion and heart rate momentarily, as does running uphill. To avoid compounding this increase, fuel on the downhill. 

Hydration: Water and lemon-lime Gatorade Endurance is available every mile starting at mile 2. These tables are long and plentiful. They are very crowded at the beginning of the race, but if you don’t mind slowing down and getting caught in the crowd, you can access fluids. If staying down the center yellow line is more your jam, I’d recommend carrying a handheld for the first half. 

Meghann’s Tips: Pack extra snacks and hydration for the bus ride & wait at Athlete’s Village. Do not count on finding any fuel or hydration in Athlete’s Village! Take what you would normally eat pre-long run. If you plan to use course fluids, make sure to adjust your plan based on the weather. Boston can be the first warm day coming off winter training which means we need more sodium & hydration than we did in winter training. If you are taking water off course, be sure to consume your sodium from gels, chews, or sodium caps or chews. 


Hands down the most laid-back and enjoyable race of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, in my opinion. Anything goes in London! You can carry any hydration pack or bottle you desire. London is also a later start with the first wave starting at 10 am. Make sure you eat in your hotel & take a second breakfast for The Tube ride to the start.

Nutrition: Lucozade Sport gels are offered at miles 13.5 and 19. Remember, this is far too late and not enough to adequately fuel your marathon. If you want to use on-course gels, be sure to also carry some of your own. 

Hydration: Lucozade Sport is the electrolyte drink option on-course. If you plan to use this on race day, order some to practice with during a few of your long runs to make sure you like it and it sits well in your GI tract. Lucozade Sport is comparable to Gatorade Endurance in nutrition with 32 gm carbs & 250 mg sodium per 16 oz. Lucozade is available at 4 stops, miles 9, 15, 21, and 24. Small bottles of water are available at 13 stops on the course, at varying distances apart. These are small 8 oz bottles of water with a spout on top which makes it very easy to drink from vs a cup. And, you can easily carry these bottles for a few miles, if needed. Of note, unlike the US Major Marathon locations water and sports drinks are not offered at the same stops. Also, it is encouraged that you spray out the water before tossing the bottle to minimize tripping risk. 

Meghann’s Tips: If you use water during your marathons, I would highly recommend relying on the handy bottles they pass out and not carrying your own water. If you plan to use Lucozade Sport, practice with it in training. And, make sure to keep your head up on Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, and the Mall. Fuel like a boss so you can appreciate the sights! 


The Berlin Marathon is another fast and flat Abbott World Marathon Major race. Many records have been set on this course. If you’re running Berlin Marathon for fun, you may be very entertained by the drink & fuel options on-course. But, if you are running for a PR or your best race on the day, there are some things you may want to take into account.

Nutrition: Maurten is the on-course fuel at the Berlin Marathon. There is only one Maurten gel 100 station, and this is at km 27.5. There are also 6 Maurten 160 drink mix options between km 9 and 36. 

Hydration: Refreshment points with fruit, tea and water are available at 9, 15, 20, 25, 30, 36 km. Then, water-only refreshment points are also available at 5, 12, 17.5, 22.5, 27.5, 32.5, 34.5, 38, and 40 km. I hope something jumps out to you here. None of these options contain electrolytes. The average weather for Berlin is in the high 50s – mid 60s, which for the majority of runners requires a conscious intake of adequate sodium. <the vomit at the 2023 finish line confirmed my suspicion that many runners did not get the memo to carry their own electrolytes – as nausea/vomiting is a common side effect of inadequate sodium intake> 

Another unique option at the Berlin Marathon is a Personal Refreshment option. This is where you can fill your own bottles, much like the pros, and have them available to you on course at certain points. You drop them at a truck as you enter the start village. I did this in 2023 and found 1 of the 2 bottles I marked. Note: the tables with personal refreshments are VERY crowded so please drop a few and have a backup in case you are unable to locate your bottle. 

Meghann’s Tips: You will likely need to carry all your fuel and electrolytes for the Berlin Marathon. Think this through in training and find your favorite way to carry all this for the marathon. If you rely on a specific electrolyte drink, I highly recommend dropping a couple bottles at the Personal Refreshment <also called Own Refreshments some places> truck to find on-course. However, have an electrolyte backup in case you don’t find them, as they are very crowded tables. 


The Chicago Marathon is another very well-supported marathon with 20 aid stations on the course. It is known to be very flat, and a very fast marathon, which allows for a steady perceived exertion. While USATF rules prohibit taking aid from spectators, if you are not running for an award or prize money, this spectator-friendly race lends itself to seeing your friends and family multiple times throughout the race. 

Nutrition: In the past, the Chicago Marathon has used Gatorade Endurance Energy gels but these have been discontinued as of November 2023. At this time, in May 2024, there is no information about what gels will be on the course of the 2024 Chicago Marathon. Historically,  gels have been available just before miles 14 and 18. 

Hydration: All aid stations offer water and lemon-lime Gatorade Endurance options. There are 20 hydration stations starting just before mile 2 with the final hydration station at mile 25.5. 

Meghann’s Tips: There are adequate fluid stations on course if you prefer to rely on aid stations. However, if you choose to use an electrolyte drink other than Gatorade Endurance, I would recommend getting used to carrying a handheld during training so you are comfortable carrying your own electrolyte drink throughout the race. Watch for announcements about which gel will be available on the Chicago Marathon course. 


This iconic course through the 5 boroughs of New York City is lined with spectators for the entire 26.2 miles. Don’t forget to keep your head up and notice all the fantastic support! With long stretches of bridges where no aid stations exist and the unseasonable warm weather at this race the past couple of years, I recommend running with a handheld hydration bottle if you are a moderate to heavy sweater. This way you have what you need when you need it, the whole race. NYC has a wave start which means runners start anywhere between 9:10 and 11:30 am. Many runners find themselves on Staten Island for a couple of hours before their race starts. Be sure to pack snacks, hydration, and comfortable throw-away clothes. 

Nutrition: The Start Village does have bagels, Gatorade, water, coffee, and tea. However, I do recommend bringing everything you need with you and using this as a bonus, if needed. Science in Sport Energy gels are available at miles 12 and 18. And, bananas are available at miles 21 and 23. 

Hydration: Runners are allowed to carry a handheld, waistbelt, or vest with front pocket flasks for hydration. Runners are not allowed to wear any hydration backpacks. Aid stations offer water and Gatorade Endurance every mile starting at miles 3 through 25, except miles 5, 7, and 9. 

Meghann’s Tips: Be sure to eat twice pre-race. Aim to eat 2 and 4 hours pre-race, the same amount you ate pre-long runs x 2. <Ideally, this is ½ your body weight in lbs in grams of carbs. For example, if you weigh 175 lbs. Eat 85 – 90 gm carbs twice.> And, fuel early and often throughout the entire race. The last 10k of this race is sneakily tricky with even the flats being a slight uphill. This is where we fall apart if our in-race fueling and hydration was not adequate. Carry an extra gel in case you need a carb boost to get you to the finish with a smile on your face.

If you have run any of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, what tips do you have to add? Comment below to help out our fellow runners.