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AIMS Congress

21st World Congress of AIMS in Athens Greece,
10-12 November 2016

21st World Congress of AIMS in Athens Greece, 10-12 November 2016

Athens, March 04, 2016

To: All AIMS Race Directors
Subject: 21st World Congress of AIMS in Athens Greece, 10-12 November 2016

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Click to download notice



Athens, February 2016

To: All AIMS Race Directors
Subject: Cancellation of the 21st World Congress of AIMS

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Click to download notice


 AIMS 20th Word Congress, Durban, South Africa 29-31 May 2014

Official Congress Photos (High-resolution)
Right-Click here to download photo Right-Click here to download photo
Front Row: Blanche Moila and Alan Lucas Hattingh (Comrades)
Front row, standing: Peter McLean (AIMS PR Manager), Guillermo Saenz (Costa Rica), Irene Peralta (CAF-Caracas), unknown, Rachid Ben Meziane (Leiden), Edouard Cassingnol (Paris), Fran Seton (AIMS Continental PR Manager), Antonio Agostino (St Denis - La Voie Royale), Hugh Jones (AIMS Secretary), Hiroaki Chosa (AIMS President Emeritus), Paco Borao (AIMS President), Jack Cohen (Tiberias, in check shirt), Al Boka (AIMS Treasurer), Keisuke Sawaki (retiring Board member), Martha Morales (AIMS Vice-President), Shi Chunjian (Chinese Federation), Mohamed Laroug (Boujaia Half Marathon), Myrta Doldan (Asuncion), Cheryl Winn (LOC), Gloria Ng (Kuala Lumpur), Gunther Ernst (Three Countries, in green T-shirt), Richard Umberg (Jungfrau), unknown, Mr/Ms Thilak Weerasinghe (Colombo)
Second Row: unknown (in red shirt), Bruno Boukobza (St-Germain 10km), Dave Cundy (AIMS Vice-President), Uri Menachem (Jerusalem), Marty Wanless (Allsport Marketing), Bruno Lafranchi (Zurich), Pannios Dimakos (Athens), Yutaka Sasai (Asics), Teruyoshi Yukimura (Lake Saroma), Sean Wallace-Jones (IAAF Road Running Manager), unknown, Dawei Wang (Chinese Federation), Fernando Jamarne (Santiago), unknown (with deep red tie), Giovanna Rousseau (Seychelles), 3 unknown, all Seychelles, Horst Milde (AIMS Marathoneum, Berlin).
Third Row: unknown, Junfang (Shirley) Huang (Xiamen), Rafael Acosta (WB10km, in striped tie), Inge Johnson (Canada Running Series), unknown (in blue T-shirt), unknown, unknown (in white T-shirt), Alan Brookes (in sunglasses, Canada Running Series), Natascha De Jager (ASA), Karin Wright (Lake Tahoe), Les Wright (Lake Tahoe), Alessandra Ramella Pairin (Turin), Ruth Ralston, Jim Ralston (Goodlife Toronto Marathon), Konstantin Podbelsky (Siberian), Nicholas Stalfors (Goteborgsvarvet), Arpad Kocsis (Budapest), Frank Stebner (Vancouver Sun Run), Karen Warrendorf (Okanagan), Steve Mattina (Okanagan), Debbie Harrison (Victoria Falls), Mark Milde (Berlin), Stephanie Schultzen (Two Oceans) ? Meissner (Pole Position), Theo Livitsanos (AIMS Administrator), - remaining of this row unknown
4th Row: Andrea Eby (Vancouver), Markus Herrman (RunCzech), unknown, Mitsugi Ogata (Fukuoka), Pablo Gonzales (Quito Ultimas Noticias), unknown, Carlo Capalbo (RunCzech), Pieter de Jager (ASA), Johan Van Staden (Mandela Day Marathon) => behind: Vivek Singh (Mumbai,) John Hall (Maritzburg), Eileen Hall (Maritzburg), 2 unknown from Maritzburg, Luis Posso (Possosports, at back), Elana Meyer (Cape Town), Renna Jarvalt (Tallinn), Sabine Milde (AIMS Marathoneum, Berlin), Dejan Nikolic (Belgrade), unknown (Seychelles).
At the 20th World Congress of AIMS held in Durban, South Africa from 29-31 May AIMS President Paco Borao reported that the running movement is booming around the world with an estimated 10 million people taking up the challenge to run the marathon and other long distance races. President Borao commented: ‘We are seeing a great growth in the running movement. Running, the world’s original and most affordable sport, is a perfect solution to addressing many of the world’s health issues such as obesity. As many medical professionals around the world like to say: ‘exercise is the perfect pill.’
The World Congress was held in conjunction with South Africa’s famous Comrades Marathon that starts in Pietermaritzburg and finishes some 89km later in the City of Durban. The race’s history goes back to a soldier named Vic Clapham in 1921 who, after World War I urged that the race be staged to celebrate the spirit of fallen comrades in all such human conflicts.

Athletic performance: ‘it’s the brain that is the critical organ’.

World renowned sports scientist Professor Tim Noakes told the Congress about his lifetime of research into athletic performance. He highlighted that the history of the majority of the world’s top sprinters originate from West Africa and this is consistent with sprinters now representing the Americas having mainly West African ancestry. While the greatest success in distance races, in events like the marathon, comes from East Africa.

Professor Noakes showed the Congress considerable research into what allows East African runners to dominate the marathon and distance running throughout the world. He argued that many factors combine to give the runners, who originate from the East African Rift Valley, claimed to be the site of the origins of man, a physical, environmental and psychological advantage.

While there do appear to be genetic variables compared to a sample of white native European athletes, they do not explain all the factors. In general European athletes tend to be taller with greater muscle weight. The East Africans were generally smaller and lighter but with considerable muscle strength and power.

Prof. Noakes explained that the less time a runner’s foot is in contact with the ground (and the more it is in the air) the faster the runner will move. To propel the athlete into the air for longer, having less time in contact with the ground, requires great muscle strength. The phenomenal Ethiopian runner Haile Gebrselassie was highlighted as an example. Prof. Noakes said although appearing slight in frame, Gebrselassie’s muscle strength would compare to that of a weightlifter of substantially more body mass.

There was a clear correlation between successful African distance runners and those who from an early age ran to school and back each day.1992 New York Marathon winner Willie Mtolo, who also spoke at the Conference, told of how he ran 32km every day of his childhood to school and back.

Living and running at altitude also provides a great advantage when coming down to compete at sea level. The desire for economic success was also shown to be a major motivating factor for many African runners.

Prof. Noakes also talked about ‘stereotype threat’. Many runners are believed to be intimidated before the race even starts by the perceived prowess of African distance runners, the legend and history of excellence being so strong that this gives them a competitive advantage over other runners: Brazilian Footballer, French Chef, African Marathon Runner.

Overall Prof. Noakes said that physiology can only explain so much. The ultimate factor is how the brain influences the body, both in how it informs and manages our physical body responses but also our mental desire and motivation. He quoted the great Sir Roger Bannister, who broke the 4-minute mile on the 6 May 1954, when asked what is the critical factor of athletic performance, replied: ‘it’s the brain that is the critical organ’.

The race directors from around the world also heard from Blanche Moila, the first black woman to be given South Africa sporting colours, who was cheered on by the prisoners of Robben Island in the 1980s. Moila was and is an inspiration to all, but in particular to women and the black community especially at a time when South Africa was struggling for equality and democracy. Moila highlighted the need for strong female role models and greater support for women to see greater success in African and world athletics.

Olympic Silver medallist Elana Meyer talked of her frustrations at waiting for years during South Africa’s period of isolation from international sport during the apartheid era and her relief to finally get the chance to compete, and win a medal, at the 1992 Olympics.

The conference also heard from one of the world’s top athletes’ agents Luis Posso, of the need for race organisers and the media to promote the often inspirational stories behind the challenges that many African athletes have overcome. Such stories build a greater appreciation and awareness of their athletic and life success, as an inspiration to others. This year’s London Marathon debut Olympic hero Mo Farah was mentioned, with it being noted his fame is such that he has over 1m followers on twitter.

Cheryl Winn, The Chairperson of the Comrades Marathon LOC, beautifully summed up why running is historically important in Africa by quoting an old African saying:

‘Every morning when a gazelle wakes up in Africa, it knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up in Africa you better be running.’
2014 AIMS Board
Back row Left to Right: Gary Boshoff, Fernando Jamarne, Bruno Boukobza, Andrea Eby, Mitsugi Ogata, Mark Milde.
Front row Left to Right: Al Boka, Martha Morales, Paco Borao, Dave Cundy, Hugh Jones  (Right-Click here to download photo
photo copyright: Francis Kay of AIMS’ sponsor: marathon-photos.com
Election success

The Congress saw the following people elected:
President: Paco Borao (Valencia Marathon-Spain)
Vice President: Martha Morales (Marathon International Tangamanga-Mexico)
Treasurer: Al Boka (Las Vegas Marathon,USA)
Director: Andrea Eby (Vancouver Marathon-Canada)
Director: Fernando Jamarne (Marathon de Santiago-Chile)
Director: Mistugi Ogata, Ph.D. (Fukuoka Marathon-Japan)
President - Paco Borao
Paco Borao - President
Vice President - Martha Morales
Martha Morales - Vice President

Dave Cundy - Vice President
Dave Cundy - Vice President 

Hugh Jones - Treasurer 
Hugh Jones - Secretary

Al Boka - Treasurer
Al Boka - Treasurer

Andrea Eby - Director
Andrea Eby - Director 

Mitsugi Ogata - Director
Mistugi Ogata, Ph.D. - Director

Fernando Jamarne - Director
Fernando Jamarne - Director

Mark Milde - Director
Mark Milde - Director

 Gary Boshoff - Director
Gary Boshoff - Director

Bruno Boukobza -  Director
 - Bruno Boukobza - Director

All Photos above copyright: Francis Kay of AIMS’ sponsor:

The 19th World Congress of AIMS took place in Prague from 10-12 May 2012, prior to the Prague International Marathon on 13 May. (19th AIMS Congress Portal)

On the business day of Congress (12 May) the attending delegates voted for Durban (Comrades Marathon, RSA) as the venue of the 20th World Congress of AIMS. The outcome of elections for Board positions were as below:

Vice-President: Dave Cundy (Great Wall Marathon, Australian Outback Marathon)
Board members: Gary Boshoff (Comrades Marathon); Bruno Boukobza (Marathon des Alpes Martimes); Mark Milde (BMW Berlin Marathon). (Board Members)

New directors elected:

Dave Cundy - New Vice President
Australian Race Director of The Great Wall Marathon, China elected as Vice President
Bruno Boukobza Organiser of the Marathon des Alpes Maritimes-Nice Cannes, France Mark Milde
Race Director of the BMW Berlin Marathon


Gary Boshoff
he Chief Executive of the famous South African event The Comrades Marathon

Congress was officially opened by Prague Councilor for Sport Helena Chudomelova, and Councilor for Tourism Vaclav Novotny at the Hilton Hotel in Prague. A warm welcome was extended by Congress host Carlo Capalbo.

Paco Borao reported on progress since the 18th World Congress of AIMS held in Athens in October 2010 (Progress Report). There were further reports from AIMS Treasurer Al Boka (Financial statement) and on two particular social programmes: the AIMS Marathon-Museum of Running by Horst Milde, (Museum Report) and the AIMS Children's Series by Martha Morales (Children's Report). Dmitris Michopoulos addressed the meeting on behalf of the new AIMS Patrons OPAP, and Makis Asimakopoulos reported on the AIMS Marathon Symposium (link), the Marathon Flame (link), and the joint 30th anniversary of AIMS and the Athens Classic Marathon (link) to be celebrated at a gala dinner in Athens on Friday 9 November 2012.

After the break there were three presentations on sourcing of sponsorship for smaller events from Kire Sinadinovsky of the Skopje Marathon (link), Greg Hooton of the Melbourne Marathon (link) and Vivek Singh of the Mumbai Marathon (link). (Portal)

The afternoon session started with presentations from Roger Robinson who sketched the historical background to women's middle and long distance running, and Kathrine Switzer who related her personal story as the woman who changed history when she covertly entered the Boston Marathon in 1967. She concluded ‘women runners now outnumber men in America; women now comprise 53% of runners. Women feel empowered by running and love the feeling of community and good health that comes with a running lifestyle.’

Kathrine Switzer speak at 2012 AIMS Congress

An interactive session followed, in which groups discussed what AIMS can do for smaller member events.

Official Congress Photo - High-resolution-photo (right-click to save)

At end of the first day the official Congress photographs were taken outside the Rudolfinum before a welcome dinner hosted by the Mayor of Prague.

Official Congress Photo 2 - High-resolution photo (right-click to save)

At the start of the second day candidates made short election presentations followed by a session on "Disaster recovery", generally entailing postponement or cancellation of an event. Richard Donovan explained the particular hazards of organising the North Pole Marathon including airdropping of a tractor, the possibility of polar bear attacks and the risk of losing frostbitten body parts, but drew some more general conclusions about the organiser's relationship to runners in the event. A second block of speakers including Alan Brookes of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (link), Gunther Ernst of the Sparkasse Three Country Marathon (link) and Guy Morse of the BAA Boston Marathon addressed the subject of community involvement in their events. Before the midday break speakers summarised the discussions of the previous day's breakout groups on "What AIMS can offer to smaller events".

The Congress re-convened with three presentations on "Innovative Technologies". Bas Van Rens explained the Bibtag system developed by MyLaps and Francis Kay of Marathon-Photos.com showed the increasingly detailed way in which the runner's participation in an event can be captured photographically. Gerhard Wehr then outlined the system used in the Vienna Marathon to develop a medical database allowing more effective delivery of treatment to runners during the event.

After the break Marcus Herrman offered a comprehensive review of how running events impact upon the local economy and society (link), using the Prague Marathon as a case study. A general question and answer session followed before the day's proceedings ended. In the evening delegates attended a gala dinner celebrating the 60th anniversary of Emil Zatopek's three gold medals in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki.

The business day of Congress attending delegates determined the venue of the 20th World Congress of AIMS - Durban - after four rounds of voting. There was then a follow-up session on Women in Running in which Presentations were given by Renna Jarvalt of Tallinn Marathon (link) (video), Martina Kozakova and Jaroslava Haldova of Prague (link), May El Khalil of the Beirut Marathon (link) and Lisa Jackson of the UK magazine Women's Running. Michael Schwär described the pioneering role of the Schwarzwald Marathon in Germany (link), which had been the first Marathon to officially welcome (but even before that to unofficially welcome) female entrants.

Various changes were made to the Articles of Association (link) before the elections for positions on the Board of Directors (as detailed above).

AIMS President Paco Borao then concluded the Congress with a short address (link) in which he thanked the Prague organisers and retiring Board members Gordon Rogers and Carlo Capalbo. He further thanked retiring AIMS Vice-President Carlos Moya, who becomes Honorary Vice President.

The Establishing Congress was held in London in 1982, but was little more than a private meeting among those marathon organisers who had been instrumental in forming the Association (only formalised at that meeting). After that, the first open Congress of AIMS was held in Tokyo in January 1983, and since then 17 more AIMS World Congresses have been held, the latest of which was the 18th World Congress held on 28-30 October 2010 in Athens, Greece.

At the 12th and 13th World Congresses in Kosice (Oct 1999) and Turin (April 2001) a day of presentations and seminars was followed by a specific business day. Since the 14th World Congress at Niagara Falls (Oct 2002) this has been extended to two days of presentations and seminars before the business day. Breaks are scheduled within both the seminar and business programme to allow for informal discussion among members, and there is a social programme run in parallel with the scheduled sessions.

On the business day, certain formalities are observed:

  1. The Treasurer is obliged to present audited accounts since the previous World Congress.
  2. Short reports are usually presented to attending members concerning membership and technical matters, and any specific issues of concern that have arisen since the previous Congress (or are ongoing).
  3. Attending members select candidates to fill positions falling vacant on the Board. Each full member can cast as many votes as there are vacancies, and those candidates receiving the most votes are elected.
  4. Attending members determine the venue and the date of the following World Congress, after presentations from interested candidates. Each full member casts one vote in each ballot, and the candidate venue receiving least votes in each round is eliminated. The balloting continues until one candidate venue has a simple majority.

Previous World Congresses of AIMS:

  • 26 October 1981; Meeting of International Marathon Race Directors (IMRD)Sheraton Centre Hotel, New York USA
  • 10/11 December 1981; ad-hoc Meeting of Association of International Marathons (AIMS) Surfrider Hotel, Honolulu USA
  • 20 April 1982; ad-hoc Meeting of AIMS, Lenox Hotel, Boston USA
  • 06/07 May 1982; First Congress of AIMS; Park Lane Hotel, London GBR
  • 1st AIMS Congress: Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo JPN; January 1983
  • 2nd AIMS Congress: Sheraton Bal Harbour Hotel, Miami USA; 5/6 January 1984
  • 3rd AIMS Congress: Intercontinental Hotel, Berlin GER; 26/27 September 1985
  • 4th AIMS Congress: Manila PHI; 16/17 February 1987
  • 5th AIMS Congress: Melbourne AUS; 05/06 October 1988
  • 6th AIMS Congress: Rotterdam NED; 18/20 April 1990
  • 7th AIMS Congress: Bangkok THA; 25/27 November 1991
  • 8th AIMS Congress: Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, Lisboa POR; March 1993
  • 9th AIMS Congress: Macau MAC; December 1994
  • 10th AIMS Congress: Barcelona ESP; 13/14 March 1996
  • 11th AIMS Congress: Dish Hotel, Enschede NED; 07/08 June 1997
  • 12th AIMS Congress: Hotel Slovan, Kosice SVK; 01/02 October 1999
  • 13th AIMS Congress: Star Hotel Majestic, Torino ITA; 30/31 March 2001
  • 14th AIMS Congress: Sheraton Hotel, Niagara Falls CAN; 24/26 October 2002
  • 15th AIMS Congress: Hotel NH Las Artes, Valencia ESP; 17/19 February 2005
  • 16th AIMS Congress: International Seaside Hotel, Xiamen CHN; 28/30 March 2007 (details)
  • 17th AIMS Congress: Mercure Grand Hotel Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo BRA; 2/4 April 2009 (details)
  • 18th AIMS Congress Marathon, GRE ; 28-30 October 2010 (details)
  • 19th AIMS Congress Prague, CZE ; 10-12 May 2012
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