The top three athletes at the end of the series will all secure prize money ©Getty Images

Abbott World Marathon Majors have announced their prize structure has been altered to reward the top three finishers in the series - while a charity programme is also being launched.

Under the previous prize structure, only the individual champions received prize money at the conclusion of the series.

The winner of the men’s and women’s series will both receive $250,000 (£200,000/€231,000) with second and third place taking home $50,000 (£40,000/€46,000) and $25,000 (£20,000/€23,000) respectively.

A prize of $50,000 (£40,000/€46,000) will be given to the winners of the men’s and women’s wheelchair race series, while $25,000 (£20,000/€23,000) will go to second place and $10,000 (£8,000/€9,300) to third.

Each race winner in the open and wheelchair categories will be honoured with a $10,000 (£8,000/€9,300) donation in their name, which will go to a charity of their choosing.

In total, $280,000 (£223,000/€259,000) will be given to charity through the upcoming series in the name of the winners of the seven races.

“The race directors of the Abbott World Marathon Majors want to acknowledge the top three athletes, rather than just the winners, and also to reflect the reason to run for so many of the hundreds of thousands who participate in our races,” said Tim Hadzima, Abbott World Marathon Majors general manager.

“Many of the runners who cross our iconic finish lines every year fundraise an incredible amount of money for charity.”

The Virgin Money London Marathon act as the start and end points of the upcoming season ©Getty Images
The Virgin Money London Marathon act as the start and end points of the upcoming season ©Getty Images

Each race organiser will select a charity for their race, with full details set to be announced in the build-up.

Abbott World Marathon Majors state the programme will add to the $150 million (£120 million/€139 million) which is raised for charity every year at their races, which comes through individual fundraising.

The series will begin with the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 23 before continuing with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in August.

Marathons in Berlin, Chicago and New York City will complete the 2017 series, with a further three races scheduled in 2018.

The Tokyo Marathon will continue the series on February 25, before concluding with the Boston Marathon on April 16 and London Marathon on April 22.

Each of the top five finishers will earn points at the races, with the three athletes with the highest amount of points receiving money at the conclusion.

“This new approach enables the Abbott World Marathon Majors to create more opportunities to introduce inspiring, talented professional athletes to our growing global audience,” said Hadzima.

“Our new total prize purse honours more top performers with financial support and is a natural complement to the $9 million (£7.1 million/€8.3 million) we’ve awarded over the past decade.”