We suspect images and stories from yesterday’s Boston Marathon are generating a swirl of daydreams in your brain. So today we are highlighting two mother runners who are raising the stakes on running Boston: They are on what is dubbed the Six Star Journey. Also called the World Marathon Majors (WMM), this undertaking involves running the marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, and Tokyo. (Yeah, say it with us: WOWZA!) Martha Musto, 58, of Vail, Colorado, reached out to Lorrainne Stewart, 52, from Nashville, after hearing her on our podcast, and since then, they’ve been sharing Six Star advice. They paused their GPS watches long enough to answer our questions about their quests. 

Martha’s son drew this motivational message on the family whiteboard

In what year did you start pursuing your goal to run the World Marathon Majors, and what gave you the idea to go for it? 

Lorrainne: When I first started running 15 years ago, my husband gifted me a subscription to Runner’s World and that’s where I learned that the WMMs even existed. I thought it was a lofty goal and I would give it a try. In 2014, I got into my first WMM, Chicago, through the lottery, and since then, I’ve been on a mission to complete all six marathons.

Martha: It was 2019. I’d started running in 2011, and after I ran a marathon for each of my four children, I wanted to have a big goal that was just for me. Becoming an empty-nester became my time of self-care and focusing on me!

Please list the World Marathon Majors races you have done, and the year you ran them in. 

Lorrainne: Chicago 2014; New York 2018; Berlin 2022, and, this Sunday, London 2024

Martha: NYC 2017, Chicago 2021, Berlin 2022, London 2023, and Tokyo 2024

What’s your favorite World Marathon Majors race so far, and why? 

Lorrainne: Berlin was my favorite. The course was fairly flat, and the crowds were amazing. I especially enjoyed running past buildings with architecture that has stood for centuries. Once I made it to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, I got goosebumps. I also felt emotional knowing I had completed my third WMM, which meant I was halfway to my goal.

Martha: NYC. It was my first marathon and everything else has been compared to that. It’s close to my second home base in New Jersey, so it feels like home. The crowd support is unrivaled. [Editor’s note: Oh, just wait until you run Boston, Martha!]

Lorrainne finishing Chicago, Berlin, and NYC

Please share one standout memory from one of the WMM races. 

Lorrainne: One of my favorite memories is running across the Verrazano Bridge in NYC. It’s at the beginning of the race, and it felt so unreal to be on that bridge with tens of thousands of runners all headed toward the same finish line. People were stopping and taking selfies, laughing, and crying. We still had 25 miles to go, but in that moment I felt like I could run forever.

Martha: Our older son Marco, who lives in Chicago, arranged to fly all his siblings to Chicago to surprise me! 

Other than the COVID lockdown, did you encounter any speedbumps in your pursuit of your Six Star goal? 

Lorrainne: The main speedbumps have been trying to get in through the lottery: It seems to get harder every year. I began my journey to run the WMM in 2014, and it took me four years before I got into the next, which was NYC. Then four more years to run Berlin. Technically, I got into the 2020 Berlin Marathon, but due to COVID, I didn’t run it until 2022. I decided to try to speed the process up a bit, so when I didn’t get into London 2024, I took Martha’s advice to get in with a charity.

Martha: I have been very lucky so far. No major injuries during this pursuit, though I did run Tokyo with a partial tear in my IT band. That crept up a few weeks before the race. An IcyHot patch and Advil got me through.

Martha racing Chicago, NYC, and Berlin

How laser-focused were you in your Silver Star Journey? 

Lorrainne: My preferred distance is the half marathon, but I have the goal of running at least one marathon a year (sometimes it ends up being two), whether I get into a Major or not. I like the challenge, and always having a race on the calendar helps keep alive my goal of running all six major marathons.

Martha: After I ran NYC in 2017, I had decided to give my medal to my son Dante. He was my inspiration during my training and for the race: He had experienced some health issues during high school that he overcame, and his birthday was a few days after the race. Then I wanted to run more marathons in dedication to my other kids, three more which were not World Majors. After I achieved that, I got serious about completing all the Majors. My goal is to be done by the time I turn 60, which will be in November 2025. I’m on target to complete Boston next year—I just have to figure out how to get in! A charity, naturally.

What advice would you give to folks who want to embark on the Silver Star Journey?

Lorrainne: Once you set the goal of running the WMMs, look for various ways to accomplish it. Getting in through the lottery is getting harder and harder, so I’d definitely say find a charity that you can run for. Also, keep foremost in your mind your reason for trying to complete this goal: Is to have bragging rights? Is it for personal accomplishment? Whatever your reason is, keep it centered in your mind and that will give you the courage not to give up, but to keep going until you have your 6th star finisher’s medal in hand.

Martha: Practically, I would suggest following all the races on Instagram. Start to squirrel away information they put out. Book your hotels near the finish line. Contemplatively, don’t think it’s not possible. I did not start this journey until I was 51 years old. You are never too old to have a new dream that completely reinvents who you used to be and who you will become.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Lorrainne: I have really appreciated having Martha as a running friend and resource as I tackle my remaining races. Her tips have been invaluable, but really knowing that she is also trying to run all six WMMs is inspiring and the epitome of what this sport is all about. It’s not only accomplishing your own goals, but encouraging others to aspire and reach theirs as well.

Martha: Next year, after getting my 6th star in Boston, I want to run NYC as my farewell to full marathons. It was my first, and I want it to be my last (plus I need the medal since I gave it to my son!). I’m currently working on the 9+1 now. In my 60s, I plan to work on completing a half in every state—I have done 19 so far. 

Psst: Here’s a helpful post from our friends at RaceRaves about getting into the WMM races.