AIMS World Congress 2016 – Report
The 21st World Congress of the Associations of International Marathons and Distance Races recently concluded at Athens, Greece, timed to coincide with the 120th anniversary of the first marathon run by Spiros Louis in 1896.
I had an opportunity to attend the congress and glean some very interesting insights which I hope I can do justice to in this article. Here are some highlights from my perspective.
Like all conferences some presentations were great, some ok and some not so great. However, they were all filled with insights that you can not get anywhere else in the world of distance running. And wasn’t that the purpose!
The presentations that stood out were the presentation by Makis Asimakapolous, the General Manager (Race Director) of the Athens Marathon, the Authentic. He went into a level of detail that gave a sense of what it takes to organise an event of 50,000+ people in a major city like Athens. The work really stands out for its focus on the minutest of things that many races in India routinely miss. For me the most interesting parts were their security and evacuation plans – which I find most races simply ignore. In this day and age of terrorism and unexpected violence, and evacuation plan is probably the first and most important aspect of organising such events. Im not sure our police and emergency services are geared to respond to such incidents if they do occur.
Another interesting presentation that caught the audience’s attention was the presentation on TV Broadcast of races and the challenges and benefits of doing it at races. It was a gold mine of information that race directors should all tap into if possible.
Best Marathon Runner Awards
One of the key agenda items for the Congress was the Best Marathon Runner Awards given to exceptional long distance runners as voted for by the members of AIMS. This award is given to a runner who has won the most medals.
With Jemima Sumgong – Rio Gold Medalist in the Marathon
Olympic gold medal in distance running or other significant achievement is the sport of long distance running. This year the winners were Eliyud Kipchoge for men – Olympic Gold medalist in the Marathon, and Jemima Sumgong who won the gold in the Marathon for Women at the Olympics.
The lifetime achievement award for Best Marathon Runner was given to Haile Gabresellasie of Ethiopia. A man of such distinction, he has broken 27 world records, 61 Ethiopian records, won the Berlin Marathon 4 times and
With Haile Gebrselassie – A legend who needs no introduction.
the Dubai Marathon 3times. And these were distances ranging from 800m all the way to the Marathon. It was quite thrilling to meet and chat with one of the greatest runners the world has known.
In all the AIMS Congress was an exciting and exhilarating experience of how world marathons are conducted, the people behind them, their concerns and aspirations, and also thrilling to meet some wonderful athletes and Olympians.
With Maria Polyzou – Greek Marathon Olympian and National Record holder
Following the Congress, on Sunday was the Athens Marathon, The Authentic. This race recreates the route taken by Phidipides when he ran from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to proclaim the victory of the Athenians over the Persians. Story goes that he had, at he beginning of the marathon, run to Sparta to seek help. Then ran back to join the battle, battled for 2 days and then ran to Athens to deliver the message. A total of 520kms with the stretch from Marathon to Athens being roughly 40km.
Interestingly, the current course of 42.195 km came from the 1908 London Olympics where the course was designed to end at the Royal box and the 195 meters was added to make it possible. It was as expected a mega spectacle. It was won by Lobuwan Luka Rotich of Kenya and second place was taken by Kipruto Benson. Got an opportunity to catch both of them at the 42km mark (195m short of the finish line). While Lobuwan was striding like he meant business, Kipruto came in with an easy jog. Maybe he realised that he had lost the race and decided to take the last 200m easy.
All told a very interesting weekend.
– Sandilya Venkatesh, CEO, Eventjini