Association of International Marathons and Distance Races

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AIMS Congress updates

Catching up with Eliud Kipchoge


The AIMS Best Marathon Runner 2016 award managed to catch up with winner Eliud Kipchoge, after a six-day chase, 54 degrees of longitude further east.

Kipchoge was unable to attend the official BMR Award ceremony staged in Athens on 11 November (immediately following the 21st World Congress of AIMS) because he was fully focused on final preparations for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to be held on 20 November. But within hours of arriving in the Indian capital he attended a pre-race press conference on 17 November at which the award was handed over to him by Race Organiser Vivek Singh and AIMS secretary Hugh Jones.

The corresponding women’s award was made to Jemima Sumgong at the scheduled ceremony in Athens on 11 November.

Gala prizes in Greece


Awards to the Olympic Marathon Champions Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong as well as the former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie were the crowning moments of the AIMS gala in Athens, the birth place of the Marathon, on Friday 11 November.

Their outstanding achievements were given global recognition at the fourth annual AIMS Best Marathon Runner’ (BMR) Awards Dinner Reception, which was held as part of the 21st AIMS Congress this year.

Eliud and Jemima were selected by an expert panel on behalf of AIMS Members, made up of 410 of the world’s leading and most prestigious distance races from over 110 countries and territories.

While Kipchoge was unable to attend the ceremony and was represented by his manager Jos Hermens, Sumgong received the Best Marathon Runner of the Year award and Gebrselassie was honoured in Greece with the Lifetime Achievement award by AIMS.

Two more awards were presented on Friday evening: the AIMS Green Award to the Göteborg Varvet Half Marathon and the AIMS Social Award to the Munich Marathon.

“I didn’t expect that I would one day be as successful as this. There are many women athletes in Kenya who are more talented than me,” said Jemima Sumgong, who won the London Marathon in April this year before capturing the Olympic Marathon gold medal in Rio. The 31-year-old reflected on this as she made her acceptance speech for the award. She said that, if selected by the Kenyan Federation for the World Championships next year: “I shall try my level best to win the gold medal in London.”

“It is so special for me to be recognised in this way by AIMS, their members and sponsors. I would like to thank them for awarding me in recognition of my achievements this year. I have been delighted with my form this year and this is a wonderful way to have my efforts recognised by the people at the top of organising my sport at the highest level,” she added.

It was a double Kenyan celebration at the award ceremony since Sumgong’s compatriot Eliud Kipchoge won the male category after the same sequence of wins in London and then the Olympic Marathon. “I am delighted to receive this award for the second year in a row. I really enjoyed receiving the Best Marathon Runner Award last year in Athens and I am very pleased to have been recognised by AIMS and their members from around the world again. It is a great honour to receive this award,” said Eliud Kipchoge.

AIMS President Paco Borao comments: “Jemima and Eliud are clearly the outstanding performers of our sport in 2016. I am delighted that AIMS 410 races from over 110 countries have recognised the achievements of these very impressive athletes in the spiritual home of the Marathon Movement, Athens.”

Haile Gebrselassie was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award, a fresh distinction following his recent election as the president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation. “I am very grateful to receive this honour and that it should be in Greece, the birth place of the Marathon,” said the 43-year-old Ethiopian.

The Gala was held in collaboration with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, at the newly built and impressive installations of the SNFCC in Athens which have been completed and opened for the public during last summer. Four years ago, in 2012, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation purchased at auction in London the silver trophy of Michel Breal which Spiridon Louis was awarded after his Olympic Marathon victory in 1896. The Trophy is now on display at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and was viewed by guests at the Gala on Friday evening.

Running boom as millions around the world take up the sport

The growth of running is booming around the world, an audience representing over 400 cities in over 100 countries and territories heard this week in Athens, Greece, the home of the marathon.

The ‘Athens Marathon, the Authentic’ Greece has seen growth from 5,000 runners to 50,000 in the last 10 years reported Athens Marathon, General Manager, Makis Asimakopoulos.

William Ko, Chairman of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon reported that his race has seen an increase from 1,076 runners in 1997 to 74,000 in 2016. Millions of runners around the world are enjoying the sport and the physical and mental health benefits it brings.

AIMS President Paco Borao commented on the considerable growth and success of the marathon movement around the planet and on its significance as the world’s ‘original and most affordable sport’. He highlighted that the growth of ‘the running movement has been increasing at over 16% per year for the last 10 years’.

While Carlo Capalbo – IAAF Road Running Commission Chairman and President of the RunCzech Running League – spoke about the positive effect of the global running movement that generates and displays ‘enthusiasm, energy, peace and encourages positive international relations.’

In addition to the health benefits of running as part of the marathon and distance race movement, the considerable, positive and important economic impact it brings to cities and countries was reported as millions of euro, Japanese yen and American dollars are generated in cities ranging from Athens to Tokyo to New York, Paris and Berlin.

The Association of International Marathons & Distance Races (AIMS) representing 415 of the world’s best races across 110 countries, such as the Boston, Chicago, New York, Athens, Berlin, Paris and Tokyo Marathons, is holding its 21st World Congress this week in Athens, Greece (10-11 November 2016).

The World Congress was co-organised by the ‘Athens Marathon, the Authentic’ and the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), Greece’s governing body for athletics and held at the Crowne Plaza Athens City Centre Hotel. The weekend will finish with the 34th edition of the ‘Athens Marathon. The Authentic’ on Sunday 13 November.

It is especially relevant for the AIMS Congress to have been held in Greece, the birthplace of the Marathon, formed on the legend of Pheidippides, the Greek soldier-runner who ran from the town of Marathon to Athens in 490 BC to announce the Persians had been defeated in the ‘Battle of Marathon’. The legend became the inspiration for Pierre de Coubertin, Michel Breal and Dimitrios Vikelas, to establish the race from Marathon to Athens which was included in the programme of the inaugural modern Olympic Games of 1896. The Congress marked the 120th anniversary of the Olympic Marathon race.

There was a fascinating collection of experts who spoke across a range of subjects such as the challenge of combating doping in sport.

Kevin Dutton, a renowned research psychologist at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford spoke about ‘why do people cheat?’, a topical subject in world sport. Dr Dutton explained that throughout history there have always been people cheating and it is inevitable it will continue in the future not just in sport but across all aspects of life. He highlighted a study in the United Kingdom which asked students if they would cheat in exams if they had a low chance of being caught. In 1940 that percentage was 20%; when the same study was carried out in 2016 over 75% said they would cheat. Dr Dutton said there had been studies with comparable results around the world.

He attributed this increase over the years to different outlooks and focus in modern life, where too many people focus on what they can get rather than what they can be.

The Oxford professor highlighted that there is a combination of factors both internal to the individual and external factors in the environment that would make it likely whether a person will cheat or not.

He offered examples of internal factors such as:

  • A high need psychological need for approval;
  • A focus on goals/times etc rather than just being the best you can be and on education;
  • A reduced sense of morals.

He highlighted external factors such as:

  • When it is a perceived as a norm, that others are doing it;
  • Peer pressure from others being a very big factor;
  • Lacking any code of honour or clarity of rules;
  • When penalties are not severe enough;
  • Little chance of being caught;
  • Competition.

And when a strong number of these internal and external factors come together the likelihood of cheating is high. Most psychologists agree, Dr Dutton said, that the strongest component is of having cheated once there was an incredibly high chance it will happen again.

In terms of what can be done to address the issue Dr Dutton said, as well as having the best testing methods, it is important to seek to influence the minds of athletes through words and imagery that will not just appeal to the logical aspect of the brain but also to the emotional centre of the brain.

The race directors from around the world also heard from Diane Modahl, an Olympian British former middle distance runner and a three-time medallist at the Commonwealth Games and who was falsely accused of a doping offence in 1994. Diane spoke about her fight to clear her name which ultimately cost her two years of her career and where she and her family lost their home. Ms Modal said that the IAAF must look to protect athletes where possible from facing the emotional and financial torment of being falsely accused.

Prof Yannis Pitsiladis, (MMedSci., PhD, FACSM), Sport and Exercise Science, University of Brighton, UK gave a fascinating talk about the development of genetic testing methods that he feels can better detect doping particularly those using EPO where he believes his testing shows that EPO can increase performance by 6 to 7 percent.

Jean Gracia – Vice President of European Athletic Association in charge of Development and former General Secretary of the IAAF spoke about the complexity and the challenges of addressing not only individual doping but state sponsored doping and the work being done to address this.

Tom Grilk – Executive Director, Boston Athletic Association, Boston Marathon spoke powerfully about the importance of the corner stone of sport being ‘honesty and integrity’. Referring to Nelson Mandela’s belief that integrity is the core of human values as integrity is the quality that is the foundation of all other factors.
(Nelson Mandela ‘…the first thing is to be honest with yourself… ‘Those who conduct themselves with morality, integrity and consistency need not fear the forces of inhumanity and cruelty.’)

AIMS President Paco Borao commented: ‘Cheating in sport, as in life, will never be acceptable and we must do everything we can to address it through positive education, strong and efficient testing methods and deterrents. We must also remember athletes are firstly human beings with the same rights as everyone else and must to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty. With the right to appeal and if appropriate rehabilitation in any proper process.’

Makis Asimakopoulos, General Manager, ‘Athens Marathon, the Authentic’ gave a magnificent presentation on the development of the Athens Marathon from 5,300 runners to 50,000 over ten years and spectators from 5,000 to 100,000 over the same period.

He highlighted a 7 step plan ranging from defining and developing a USP (Unique Selling Point) for your event to the social development which now sees the Athens Marathon generate in the region of 800,000 Euros for community projects. As Mr Asimakopoulos stated ‘the marathon is not a destination but a social vehicle’.

The conference also heard from Marathon and Communications expert Alessandra Ramella Pairin who was integral to the Turin Marathon becoming one of the first in the world to use integrated new technology including broadcast over the 4G network (which had only been operating for 15 days at that time) and utilising drone technology for filming mass participation events.

Finally, the Congress heard about the importance of Building a Medical Infrastructure – From Budget to Deployment from Chris Troyanos, Executive Director of IIRM, International Institute for Race Medicine.

Election success

The congress saw the following people elected:

  • Vice President: Dave Cundy, Great Wall Marathon, China
  • Director: Gary Boshoff, 27KM For Freedom Race, South Africa
  • Director: Arpad Kocsis, Spar Budapest Marathon, Hungary
  • Director: Vaclav Skrivanek, Volkswagen Prague Marathon, Czech Republic

The full board being:

  • President: Paco Borao
  • Vice President: Dave Cundy
  • Vice President: Martha Morales
  • General Secretary: Hugh Jones
  • Treasurer: Al Boka
  • Board Member: Andrea Eby
  • Board Member: Fernando Jamarne
  • Board Member: Mitsugi Ogata, Ph.D.
  • Board Member: Gary BE Boshoff
  • Board Member: Arpad Kocsis
  • Board Member: Vaclav Skrivanek
  • AIMS HQ Administrator: Theo Livitsanos

The Congress is co-organised by the ‘Athens Marathon, the Authentic’ and the Hellenic Athletics Federation (SEGAS), Greece’s governing body for athletics.

Lifetime Achievement Award for Gebrselassie


At the Best Marathon Runner Awards to be held in the birth place of the Marathon in Athens, Greece on 11 November 2016 AIMS will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Haile Gebrselassie.

Haile’s unparalleled career of success across many disciplines of distance running will be recognised on behalf of AIMS’ 410 members from 110 countries and territories, including the BMW Berlin Marathon — a race Haile famously won on four consecutive occasions between 2006 and 2009, setting new World Records in 2007 and 2008.

He has been widely referred to as the greatest distance runner in history. AIMS has previously presented Haile with the AIMS World Athlete of the Year Award for three consecutive years; 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Born in Asella Ethiopia in 1973, Haile first gained international attention when he won the 5000m and 10,000m races at the World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea in 1992. He won two Olympic gold medals (both in the 10,000m) and won many marathons around the world. He also has an impressive collection of gold medals from indoor and outdoor World Championships in Athletics. Throughout his career he has set World Records at a variety of distances from two miles to the marathon.

AIMS President Paco Borao comments: “We are honoured to be able to recognise the achievements of Haile Gebrselassie and his unrivalled contribution to the Marathon Movement and world sport. Haile’s success has been an inspiration to so many throughout Africa and around the world and his dedication is an example we can all follow.”

Haile Gebrselassie comments: “I am very happy that AIMS and their members and sponsors have chosen to honour me in this way. I am looking forward to attending the AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards Dinner to spend a wonderful night with my friends in the marathon community in the home of the Marathon, Athens, Greece.”

Summary of Haile Gebrselassie Career Achievements

Marathon Performances

2005 Amsterdam Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)
2006 Berlin Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)
2006 Fukuoka Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)
2007 Berlin Marathon 1st (Gold Medal) 2:04:26 – World Record
2008 Dubai Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)
2008 Berlin Marathon 1st (Gold Medal) 2:03:59 – World Record
2009 Dubai Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)
2009 Berlin Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)
2010 Dubai Marathon 1st (Gold Medal)

Olympic Games

1996 Atlanta 10,000m 1st (Gold Medal)
2000 Sydney 10,000m 1st (Gold Medal)

World Athletics Championships

1993 Stuttgart 10,000m 1st (Gold Medal)
1995 Gothenburg 10,000m 1st (Gold Medal)
1997 Athens 10,000m 1st (Gold Medal)
1999 Seville 10,000m 1st (Gold Medal)

World Indoor Athletics Championships

1997 Paris 3,000m 1st (Gold Medal)
1999 Maebashi 3,000m 1st (Gold Medal)
1999 Maebashi 1,5000m 1st (Gold Medal)
2003 Maebashi 3,000m 1st (Gold Medal)

Congress stars


Eliud Kipchoge and Jemima Sumgong have been named as AIMS’ Best Marathon Runners of the year on behalf of its 410 member races spread throughout 110 countries and territories.

Their outstanding achievements over the past year will be recognised at the fourth annual AIMS Best Marathon Runner’ (BMR) Awards reception to be held in the birth place of the Marathon in Athens, Greece on 11 November 2016.

This is the second consecutive year that Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) has been recognised with the AIMS Best Marathon Runner Award. He has continued his excellent form from 2015 into 2016, winning two of the biggest marathon events in the last 12 months. In April 2016 he won the London Marathon for the second consecutive year, setting a new course record of 2:03:05. He then followed that up by winning his first ever Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janiero, winning the marathon in a time of 2:08:44.

Jemima Sumgong, also 31 years old, also won the London Marathon, recording a time of 2:22:58 despite falling at 35km and sustaining cuts and bruises. In the Olympic Games Marathon she again ran away from her rivals in the latter stages of the race to win Kenya’s first women’s marathon gold in a time of 2:24:04.

Jemima Sumgong comments “It is wonderful to have my efforts recognised by the people organising the sport at the highest level. It is extra special the fact that I will receive this in the birth place of the marathon Athens.”

AIMS President Paco Borao comments: “Jemima and Eliud are clearly the outstanding performers of our sport in 2016. It will be our great pleasure to recognise them here in such a special location for all marathon runners, where their own rightful place of making history in the modern day is recorded for all time as part of over 2000 years of marathon history in the home of the marathon Athens.

Green Award and Social Award


At the AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards reception, part of the 21st World Congress of AIMS, further awards will be made to one individual for Lifetime Achievement and to one AIMS member race for adherence to eco-friendly policies (the Green Award) and to one AIMS member race for commitment to supporting social causes through their race (the Social Award).

The Green Award, which is designed to reward best environmental practice in marathon events, will be presented to the GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon. Candidates for the Award were judged upon criteria including promoting environmentally friendly practices, how volunteers contribute to the success of the project and the ability for the race to educate younger generations about the benefits of sport and environmental protection. The two other shortlisted races were the Maratón de la Ciudad de Mexico and the SwissCityMarathon from Lucerne, Switzerland.

GöteborgsVarvet is the largest half marathon in the world with over 64,000 participants. For their 2016 race they ensured that sustainability was at the forefront of their social media, press releases and around the event. In an effort to tackle CO2 emissions they provided free public transport for all participants for three days during the week of the race. 75% of runners used this offer to collect their numbers and travel to and from the event. In addition to these efforts, GöteborgsVarvet have implemented many other environmentally conscious projects such as serving vegan and vegetarian food, collecting waste, donating left over clothes to charity.

Paco Borao, President of AIMS commented: “GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon have shown a long term commitment to green policies and it is my honour to see them recognised in this way.”

Bo Edsberger, Race Director of the GöteborgsVarvet Half Marathon comments: “We were very proud to receive ISO 20121 certification earlier this year and to receive the AIMS Green Award is another great success.”

The Social Award, which highlights races working towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, will be presented to the Munich Marathon. The eight Millennium Development Goals include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, combatting disease, decreasing child mortality, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and ensuring environmental stability.

Starting in 2015, the Munich Marathon have been working on a project called ‘Laufend integrieren’, which can be translated as ‘ongoing integration’ or even ‘running integration’. With large numbers of refugees arriving in Munich from the recent humanitarian crisis the organisers of the Munich Marathon decided to use their event to help refugees integrate into German culture.

Working with the social authority of the City of Munich running groups were set up for both Munich runners and refugees. These groups met once a week from August to October in the build-up to the race with 32 refugees participating in the Marathon.

In addition, over 100 refugees were engaged around the race weekend preparing the race packages, handing them out and stewarding the route. Bracelets branded with ‘Laufend integrieren’ were sold at the sports expo. The money raised from the bracelets in addition to donations from sponsors meant the Munich Marathon donated €30,000 to the social authority for Munich to distribute as they see fit. Munich Marathon organisers plan to continue these efforts through to the next race in 2017.

Paco Borao, President of AIMS comments: “Munich Marathon’s initiative is a great example of how running events can help tackle the great challenges of our time, in this case the humanitarian challenge of millions of refugees seeking safety within Europe.”

Gernot Weigl, Race Director of the Munich Marathon comments: “the response to our initiative from our new friends from abroad and the local people has been moving. This project has helped people understand the massive social challenges that many of the people arriving in Germany have had to face as they seek a new, safer life.”

First speakers announced for AIMS World Congress


The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) has announced the first speakers at the 21st World Congress of AIMS to be held in Athens.

Dr Kevin Dutton, a research psychologist at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford will speak on the subject of “Why do people cheat?”, a topical subject in world sport at this time. Dr Dutton’s area of expertise is the psychopathic personality. He is the author of four best-selling books including ‘The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success – How to Use Your Inner Psychopath to Get the Most Out of Life’ (2014); and ‘Sorted – The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Bossing Your Life’ (2015).

British former middle distance runner Diane Modahl, who was falsely accused of a doping offence in 1994, will also address the Congress. Diane will speak about her fight to clear her name which ultimately cost her two years of her career. Diane is a three-time medallist at the Commonwealth Games.

The 2016 AIMS Congress will take place in the home of the Marathon in Athens, Greece, from November 10–12, 2016. The Congress this year coincides with the 120th anniversary of the modern Marathon, first held at the original Olympics in Athens in 1896.

It is especially relevant for the AIMS Congress to be held in Greece, the birthplace of the Marathon, formed on the legend of Pheidippides, the Greek soldier-runner who ran from the town of Marathon to Athens in 490 BC to announce the Persians had been defeated in the ‘Battle of Marathon’. The legend became the inspiration for Pierre de Coubertin, Michel Breal and Dimitrios Vikelas, to establish the race from Marathon to Athens which was included in the programme of the inaugural modern Olympic Games of 1896.

The 21st World Congress of AIMS is being held in the city of Athens, Greece at the Crowne Plaza Athens City Centre Hotel between November 10 – 12. The weekend will include many events including the AIMS Best Marathon Runner Awards, the Athens Marathon Expo, the Athens Marathon Opening Ceremonies & Marathon Flame Lighting inside the Marathon Tomb. The weekend finishes with the 34th edition of the ‘Athens Marathon. The Authentic’ on Sunday 13 November.

The Congress will also give race organisers the chance to promote their races to hundreds of international runners and visitors. AIMS Members and non-Members should visit to register.

Further speakers will be announced closer to the Congress.

Programme for 21st World Congress


The programme for the 21st World Congress of AIMS in Athens on 10–12 November 2016 has been published.

Congress Day 1: Thursday 10 November (09.00–17.30)

  • Welcome by hosting authorities and AIMS President (09.00–09.30)
  • AIMS Business: Progress reports (09.30–11.00)
  • Coffee break (11.00–11.30)
  • Presentations by ASICS, Marathon Photos, R-bies (11.30–12.00)
  • Distance Running – what is the future?
  • Presentations by Carlo Capalbo (RRC Chairman), EAA speaker, AIMS Race directors from America and Asia (12.00–13.00)
  • Lunch (13.00–14.30)
  • International Institute of Race Medicine: Presentation by Stu Weiss (14.30–15.00)
  • Presentation of bids to host 22nd World Congress of AIMS (15.00–15.45)
  • Coffee break (15.45–16.15)
  • Discussion groups on “what is the future?” presentations (16.15–17.00)
  • Report-back to Congress floor (17.00–17.30)
  • Official welcome dinner at 20.00

Congress Day 2: Friday 11 November (09.00–18.00)

  • Introduction of candidates for Board positions (09.00–09.45)
  • Presentation (to be confirmed) (09.45–10.20)
  • Presentation by Alessandra Pairin on “Self-broadcasting technologies”(10.20–10.55)
  • Coffee break (11.00–11.30)
  • Voting for venue of 22nd World Congress of AIMS (11.30–13.00)
  • Lunch (13.00–14.30)
  • Presentation by Dr Kevin Dutton: “Why do runners cheat?” (14.30–14.50)
  • Interview with Diane Modahl: “When testing goes wrong” (14.50–15.10)
  • Q&A session (15.10–15.30)
  • Coffee break (15.30–16.00)
  • Presentation by Kyle Barber on “IAAF Testing protocols” (16.00–16.30)
  • Presentation by Yanis Pitsiladis on “An alternative testing process” (16.30–17.00)
  • Concluding remarks (17.00–17.15)
  • BMR Awards Dinner at 20.00

Saturday 12 November

  • Transport from Athens to Marathon (11.00–12.00)
  • Athens Marathon Opening ceremony at Tomb of the Fallen Warriors (12.30–13.15)
  • Congress photo (13.30–13.45)
  • Marathon Flame lighting ceremony (13.45–14.00)
  • Lunch at Marathon Lake (14.00–16.00)
  • Transport back to Athens (16.00–17.00)

Sunday 13 November: Race day: Athens Marathon – The Authentic

AIMS Business will consist of various reports from the Board to the Congress:

  • Progress report (Paco Borao)
  • Children’s Series report (Martha Morales)
  • Marathoneum report (Horst Milde)
  • Financial statement (Al Boka)
  • Website Report (Frank Baillie)

[as well as the voting for Board positions and next the Congress venue]

20th World Congress, Durban, South Africa

Official Congress Photos

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:

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:

Marathon Photos logo

19th World Congress

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

Board members: Gary Boshoff (Comrades Marathon); Bruno Boukobza (Marathon des Alpes Maritimes); Mark Milde (BMW Berlin Marathon).

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 Chief Executive of the famous South African event The Comrades Marathon

Congress was officially opened by Prague Councilor for Sport Helena Chudomelová, 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. 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 Symposiumink, 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)

Kathrine Switzer speaks at 2012 AIMS Congress

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.’

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 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.

About AIMS Congress

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.

History of AIMS Congresses

Introductory meetings

  • 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

AIMS world congresses

  • 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

Distance Running

Official magazine of AIMS and IAAF

Cover of 2017 Edition 1

Latest issue:
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Cover: Maratón Valencia Trinidad Alfonso, Spain. Photo: Jose Royo