Hmmm. . . What do the organizers maximize? Marine Corps is a highly regarded popular marathon without any prestige at all. If a race fills, as Chicago, NY and Boston do, the race organizers make as much money as they can, right? So, where's the advantage in which elite runners show? It's not like the elites are household names to anybody but us. TV revenue? Even the majors are still principally local TV draws. . . The entities with the greatest interest in maximizing the visibility of a marathon are (1) the city itself, for the purpose of inchoate boosterism/pr; and (2) the Marathon Majors folks who are trying to build a market for the sport. They have an interest in building the brand of each marathon in order to build the brand of the sport. It's in the interest of the sport to make sure that each of the majors has the possibility of some head to head drama -- an epic finish, a chance to watch a legendary moment. Not sure how to engineer this, especially as the growth of the sport has made the act of finishing less legendary . . .