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AIMS Marathon Symposium

8th AIMS Marathon Symposium: Adding value to your race
8 November 2014

Widening the reach of the race through year-round activity

Carlo Capalbo

Races are often where you see people who you will only see once a year. Races are attracting more participants but they are diverging in ability and interest. To counter this the Prague Marathon first developed a running circuit with half marathons in five locations across the country and then set up a “Running Mall”, in the heart of Prague, as a physical focus for the growing running community. The idea was part running club, part open “agora” catering to different aspects of runners’ needs. Adidas has supported the Mall as a test centre; elite athletes stay long-term in Prague and become both part of the community and local heroes; and the Running Mall clientele is widened through corporate interests and team building exercises. The entire initiative is aimed at uniting the sport rather than allowing it to fragment.

Spreading the word through social media

Andrea Eby

Social media is a two-way conversation through the Internet. Responsiveness is the key to “building a conversation” to allow everyone to find something of interest. It is best to get a company to analyse the statistics, which should be aimed at getting the highest possible “click through” rate from initial contact, whether it be paid advert or message reference, to the race website. The ultimate goal is to get increased registrations through all these different “platforms”. This is mostly a one-way flow but the ability to respond when appropriate is crucial, and especially when things go wrong. Apologies and explanations have to be offered promptly, before adverse comment gains momentum.

There should be a strategic plan guiding the investment in all marketing and communication and the digital component of this. Vancouver Marathon commits 14% of the overall race budget to serving commercial objectives. It is necessary to continually check back against strategic objectives to see if they are being met.

Safety and quality in road races

Jean Gracia

The European Athletics Association, with 50 member federations, began to interest themselves in road running when “the train had already left the station”, and many have struggled to find a meaningful role in what IAAF refer to as this new “branch of athletics”. EAA recognise the “twin pillars” of road running as high performance and mass participation. Both of these require the expectations of runners to be met.

EAA also recognise that rules relating to road races are more rules of the road than rules of athletics. What EAA hopes to achieve through the star scheme is to provide a framework relating to safety and quality that road race organisers can use to channel their efforts to best effect.

Adding value through a TV production

Timothy Kilduff

A TV production can make running look better. Races create the history but recording it also needs attention. A road race organiser needs to understand what is required to record the race to best effect. The struggle to put on the best race and to capture the best coverage can too often turn into some kind of duel. At moments of stress relationships get blown away, but what underpins arrangements is a real understanding of the requirements of TV by the race director and of race organisation by the TV production team. Marathons tell a story, and have to create this story before, during and after the event, always being prepared for changes in how it develops.

7th AIMS Marathon Symposium

The theme of the 7th AIMS Marathon Symposium held on 10 November 2013 was: ”Marathon events and security issues". During the Symposium four major speakers made presentations and discussed with the audience various issues related to the main topic, offering ideas and best practice solutions to race organisers and city or sport authorities.

View the presentations below.


The 2013 Running of the Boston Marathon
Joann Flaminio, BAA President (View PDF)

Emergency Preparedness in Mass Events

George T Chiampas DO, FACEP
Assistant professor/Associate EMS Medical Director
Department of Emergency Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University (View PDF)

Marathon Events & Security Issues

Bep Solé, Barcelona Marathon (View PDF)

Planning Security for a Mass-Participation Road Race"

Apostolos Stavropoulos- Hellenic Police Lt. General (Ret),
Director of Intelligence of Olympic Games,
Athens 2004 Security Division (View PDF)

6th AIMS Marathon Symposium

AIMS, in collaboration with the City of Marathon and SEGAS (the Hellenic Athletics Association), has established the annual international “AIMS Marathon Symposium”. It is held at the historic start venue of the Athens Classic Marathon, in the Marathon Municipality, the day before the race is held.

The Symposium aims to encourage closer co-operation and exchange of views on issues of mutual interest to assist organizers in improving their races. The organization of an annual Symposium at the birthplace of the Marathon, besides discussing current issues regarding the organization of a successful Marathon event, also raises significant symbolism related to World Peace, Olympic Ideals and Fair Play.

Specifically, the theme of 6th AIMS Marathon Symposium to be held on 10 November 2012, is: “Levels & Quality Control of a Marathon Event”. During the Symposium four major speakers and other round table participants will present and discuss with the audience various issues related to the main topic, aiming to offer ideas, solutions and practices to race organizers and city or sport authorities involved. For the full list of sessions, subjects and speakers (click here).

Please visit the website of Athens Classic Marathon: or contact Ms. Georgia-Maria Sagiadinou. email:
Tel: +302109324436; Fax: +302109352820

Participants in the AIMS Marathon Symposium are invited to follow the entire 3-day program of events around the race. More information for this program is included in the website of the Athens Classic Marathon:

5th AIMS Marathon Symposium

At the 5th AIMS Marathon Symposium held in Marathon on 12 November, participants addressed a medical theme. Paulo Afonso Lourega de Menezes, from the Rio de Janeiro Marathon, started proceedings by outlining the basic organisation of medical provision at a marathon, stressing the essential need for radio communication and mobile emergency provision. Despina Kardara, of the Athens Classic Marathon went on to describe a project that has been ongoing since 2008 to collect in-depth data from race participants and track the possible effects of marathon running on health in specific cases.

The second session of the Symposium took place in the afternoon, after the Flame Lighting Ceremony at the Tomb of the Marathon Warriors. Pedro Pujol, from the Marato de Barcelona, summarised "What to do and what not to do", and the role of race organisations in advising entrants about this. He emphasised the need for communication with runners and the medical team about the precise conditions to be expected throughout the race. Gerhard Wehr, of the Vienna City Marathon followed, explaining the "digital emergency system" used in Vienna to prepare runners by keeping them informed. A voluntary registration scheme to record runners' medical details had attracted an encouraging rate of response.

Christina Gratziou, of the European Respiratory Society described how a high profile event like the Athens Classic Marathon had been used to communicate an anti-smoking message, particularly through the influence of youthful participants in the shorter distances among family and friends. Inese Kikule, of the Riga Marathon spoke about how a medical incident concerning a high profile event ambassador led to uncertainty and confusion in the race organisation, and the need for clear communication guidelines to be agreed and enacted for such an eventuality.

The final part of the Symposium consisted of a description of the emergency medical provision organised by the Athens Classic Marathon, by Demetrios Pyrros, and its delivery along the course by NGOs working with the race organisation. Iosef Ntoumanis, of the Hellenic Red Cross, offered detailed insight into this, and again emphasised that the flow of information is critical to handling and reporting any cases that arise. Full Story

4th AIMS-IAAF Marathon Symposium

The 4th AIMS-IAAF Marathon Symposium was held on 30 October 2010 at the town of Marathon, following the ceremony of the Lighting of the Flame at the Tomb of the Marathon Warriors.

At the time of the welcome addresses IAAF President Lamine Diack presented retiring President of AIMS Hiroaki Chosa with the IAAF Silver Order of Merit (the Gold order being reserved for heads of state).

The keynote speech was given by Tini Birbili, Greek Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate. George Kazantzopoulos then outlined the Green agenda which had informed policy at the Athens Classic Marathon. Boston Marathon Chief Executive Guy Morse followed this with an account of what his event does in pursuit of energy efficiency and striving for a carbon-neutral impact.

In the second session Bas van Rens indicated how an even a supplier can co-operate with an environmentally conscious race organiser (the specific example was the Seven Hills race in Holland) to minimise environmental impact. Gabriel Arranz Herrero then outlined how in Barcelona the City authorities have encouraged and supported environmentally acceptable solutions to the hosting of large scale sporting events. Hugh Jones then summarised findings of the Congress discussion groups from 28 October, and highlighted several initiatives which represented "best practice". Other contributions were made from the floor by the attending delegates. Full Story

Earlier Symposia

The 3rd AIMS-IAAF Marathon Symposium was held on 7 November 2009 in the town of Marathon (GRE) with the theme "Charity Programs within the Marathon Movement" (for full account, click here)

The AIMS Marathon Symposium was established with the first edition held on 3 November 2007 (for full account, click here). The intention was to hold the Symposium annually, and the second Symposium took place on 8 November 2008 (for full account, click here)

For the third edition, which took place on 7 November 2009, IAAF became a joint presenter of the Symposium.

The AIMS Marathon Symposium is held at the birthplace of the classical race, the town of Marathon in Greece. The Athens Classic Marathon is held on the day following the Symposium. The Symposium is a cooperative effort between AIMS, IAAF, the Athens Classic Marathon, the Greek Athletic Federation SEGAS, and the town of Marathon.

"It is the aim of the marathon to bring people together from all over the world to a festival of sport and fair play," said Michalis Liapis, Greece's Minister of Culture during the Marathon opening ceremony at the Tomb of the Marathon Warriors for the inaugural edition of the Symposium. IAAF General Secretary Pierre Weiss said that there could not have been a better venue for the Symposium. "This is the birthplace of sport and of the Olympic Games. So the IAAF happily supports the AIMS Symposium. Without the work of AIMS in the past 25 years the marathon would not be what it is today."

The AIMS Marathon Symposium Organising Committee offers free full-board accommodation over the weekend (Friday-Monday) to one participant per race (regardless of whether they are members of AIMS) up to a limit of 80. Delegates are met at Athens Airport and local transportation is provided. Race organisers interested in participating in the Symposium may be represented by more than one delegate if they bear the cost.

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