6.- 8. September 2019
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Running boom reported all over the world with the greatest growth in China with over 5 million people running the marathon

Photo: marathon-photos.com

The Association of International Marathons & Distance Races (AIMS) representing 447 of the world’s best races across 117 countries and territories, including Boston, Chicago, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and Athens-The Authentic Marathons, held its 22nd World Congress this week in Tallinn, Estonia (6-9 September 2018) at a time when Estonia celebrates 100 years of Independence.

Ms. Shirley Yang, AIMS PR Manager for China and representative of the Chinese Athletic Association (CAA), reported on the development of marathon running in China. In 2011 there were 22 Marathon races that were co-sponsored by the CAA. This reached 328 in 2016 and 1,102 in 2017 (an increase of over 335% year on year), 50 times the amount in 2011. Over 5 million runners competed in these events.
AIMS President Paco Borao commented: “The popularity of running around the world is progressing at a rate never seen before in world history. China is the biggest example of this showing an increase in events in one year from 328 races (2016) to 1,102 (2017) an increase of 335% in a year with over 5 million people now running. The members of the AIMS marathon movement now represent the best factory in the world for generating physical and mental health and wellbeing.”

Running through history
Makis Asimakopoulos, General Manager of the Athens Marathon-The Authentic, gave an excellent presentation explaining the origins of the marathon arising from the run of the soldier messenger Pheidippides who ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE to the evolution of the modern marathon represented through races around the world being part of AIMS, ‘the custodian of running through history’.
Mr Asimakopoulos explained the innovative collaboration between SEGAS (Hellenic Athletics Federation), The Athens Marathon-The Authentic and AIMS that sees the Marathon history brought to life through the creation of The Marathon Flame that is lit each year in the tomb of marathon and travels around the world promoting the history and tradition of the marathon movement.
The head office of AIMS is based in Athens on Spyros Louis Avenue, the street named after the winner of the first Olympic Marathon event in Athens 1896. The annual AIMS Athens Symposium on running and the Best Marathon Runner Awards Gala (BMR) is shown live each year on Greek State Television Channel (ERT), celebrating and recognising the sport’s top performers the greatest athletes and officials – ‘The Running Oscars’.
To register to attend this year’s Symposium (10 November 2018) and attend the Gala, The Lighting of the Flame and the Athens Marathon the Authentic contact: aimsmarathonsymposium@athensauthenticmarathon.gr
Mr Andrew Horsewood, a Senior Analyst at Sportcal, a world-leading provider of sports market intelligence spoke to the Congress on ‘Evaluating the value of hosting sporting events’.

Mr Horsewood talked impressively about how sport events should be evaluated in many ways - ‘of course volume of involvement and economic impact but also to consider the wider social impact, sustainability and legacy’. Further, ‘the narrative is as important as the numbers’.
Sportcal have sought to create a Global Sports Impact (GSI) Project to look at a unified way across the world to assess the impact of sport on the economy but also wider society. The GSI project has 10 pillars or categories of impact: Economic; Tourism; Event Experience; Media; Social Media; Sponsorship; Sporting; Social; Sustainability; Legacy.
Mr Are Altraja Founder and Co-owner of Sportland International Group spoke about ‘The value of the Tallinn Marathon to the city economy’.
Mr Altraja talked passionately and inspirationally, stating ‘everything starts with emotion and emotion creates culture and culture affects quality of life and the economy.’ He posed the question ‘how do you define value?’  Running events create a lifestyle and impacts upon health and wellbeing which impacts positively upon culture and in turn the economy and the overall attraction of a city and a country as somewhere to live and visit.
Stacey Conley, former President of Conley Sports Productions gave a presentation on the subject of ‘Making the Most of Marketing: Increasing Women’s Participation in Running Events’.
Ms Conley gave a very interesting and passionate presentation about women in running. ’Women: The fastest growing demographic in American running’. Ms Conley went on to say barriers still exit around the world to female participation and urged organisers to keep making events more and more open to increased female participation pointing out ‘women are the number one business opportunity across all sectors of the economy’.
Ms Conley praised several AIMS events such as the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in Japan that saw 21,915 women running together in 2018 with every finisher receiving a Tiffany necklace from the world-famous New York luxury jewellery store Tiffany & Co. presented by men in black tie formal evening wear at the end of the race.
Other important elements highlighted include having female imagery in the promotion of your race showing successful and happy women finishers celebrating with family and friends. Ms Conley stressed the importance of having women represented in key positions, especially marketing and images of women role models who women can relate to and trust featuring in advertising in social media and all forms of communication.
George Kazantzopoulos, International Sustainability Expert & President of the ‘Institute Team for the World’ addressed the Congress on ‘Greening the Running movement’.
Mr Kazantzopoulos spoke about the importance of ‘writing the philosophy of looking after the environment and building sustainability into the DNA of the event’. He talked about ‘sport’s power to influence society’s philosophy, values and behaviour’.
Mr Kazantzopoulos collaborated with AIMS to create the AIMS global Green Award and to produce the booklet titled ‘AIMS Green Guidelines to Run a Marathon event that respects and protects the environment’,all designed in line with the IOC Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21.

Michael Nishi, General Manager of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Events spoke on the subject of ‘Safety-Security: Best Practices’.
Mr Nishi gave a highly impressive presentation on excellence in scenario planning and implementation that the Chicago Marathon completes each year to give the best possible protection and service to its runners, spectators, staff and volunteers.
He said that, by organising big successful events, ‘we have to realise we are potential targets and we have a duty to make sure that our events are a target that is as difficult as possible for any bad guys to hit’.
Mr Nishi stressed the importance of pre-planning, mitigating risk by scenario planning and then walking through each scenario before the event. Among the excellent practices of the Chicago Marathon is that they send a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) video to every runner, staff and volunteer. This of course has a far wider and sustainable community value that is a positive health educational legacy lasting well beyond the event itself.
Mr Nishi mentioned the importance of the AIMS Congress in exchanging helpful information and in that spirit, he referred to the available guide prepared by The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) document ‘Marathon and Running Events Safety and security Best Practice Guide’.
The Chicago Marathon, a founder member of AIMS, has 45,000 runners from over 100 countries and all 50 US States and an estimated 1.7M spectators creating an economic value of $282M.
Chris Troyanos, Medical Co-ordinator for the Boston Marathon & Executive Director for IIRM (International Institute for Race Medicine) discussing Endurance Medicine Outcomes and Global Weather Changes “A tale of two heat stokes”.
Dr Troyanos gave a fascinating presentation on the impact global climate change is having on sporting events. He mentioned that there had been a new study saying that heat stroke in some areas of the world can be more than 10 times the danger of heart attacks, although some experts disagree. He gave a great insight into the role and importance of decisions of the medical director of a race including pre planning and analysis, monitoring of weather and the importance of early intervention for heat stroke patients.
The AIMS members also heard from a selection of their global sponsors. Including Chinese based company ‘Health’ (see www.health1984.com) that has been developing innovative running shoes.
R-Bies (see http://runnetglobal.com) in conjunction with AIMS have created a global window for races and runners to connect and run around the world. Mr Yutaka Sasai of R-bies talked about the success of races in Japan such as Nagoya Women’s Marathon attracting over 20,000 runners. The Tokyo Marathon with 30,000 runners but having over 350,000 applicants for those places. Mr Sasai emphasised that Japanese runners are looking for new experience, via the AIMS and the http://runnetglobal.com partnership, where a database of over 2m Japanese runners exists, is a gateway for millions or runners in Japan to visit races around the world. It is also an opportunity for millions of runners around the world to visit Japan.

AIMS photography partner Marathon Photos marathon-photos.com founder Francis Kay made a spectacular presentation of innovative photography services for athletes and races. Two new services that Marathon Photos have created include a system to identify ‘bandit runners’ (runners who have not paid and faked a duplicate running number). Marathon Photos have also created a system that pictures, evaluates and profiles with demographic analysis of every running shoe make worn by every runner.
AIMS Children’s Series
Martha Morales, AIMS Vice President and Director of the AIMS Children’s Series, commented: ‘AIMS organises events around the world to help create opportunity and introduce young people to a healthy life style through the sport of running. To date AIMS Children’s Race Series has had over 50,000 runners. 30% of young people have come from orphanages around the world. The most recent events being held in Ecuador, Iraq and India. ‘AIMS seeks to continue to create opportunities for young people around the world, seeking where we can to help young people have wider and better opportunities in life.’
AIMS Medal & T-shirt Awards
Frank Baillie, the Founder and Director of the AIMS Running Medal & T shirt awards, informed: ‘the marathon and running medal T-shirt industry within AIMS alone is valued at over $10 million dollars and the T-shirt industry at over $27 million dollars per year and growing year on year.’
A range of innovative ideas were highlighted such as medals being created in the form of a year on year jigsaw where over several years the medals fit together to form a picture. The Hans Christian Andersen Marathon, Odense, Denmark has a medal each year that celebrates a different story from the world-famous writer Hans Christian Andersen’s wonderful fairy tales, encouraging runners to come back each year and build a wonderful collection celebrating the rich history of Danish literature.
Prices across the world ranging from for medals $1 to $30 and T-shirts from $2 to $10.
The founder of the New York Marathon Fred Lebow famously said ‘never underestimate the power of the T-shirt’.
The winners of AIMS T-shirt Award 2018: PKO Poznan Marathon (Poland)
2nd place: Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon (Canada). 3rd place: Maraton Valencia Trinidad Alfonso (Spain)
AIMS Medal Award 2018: U.S. Marine Corps Marathon (USA)
2nd place: Ravenna Marathon City of Art (Italy) 3rd place: Wuxi Marathon (China)
Modelled by the first triplets to run in an Olympic event. The Estonian triplets who ran the marathon in the Brazil Olympics Leila, Lily and Liina Luik. Pictures available by clicking the links below:
Medal Winners
T-shirt winners
The next and 23rd World Congress of AIMS will be hosted by:
The Great Batumi Night Race in Georgia 23-26 April 2020
They won the bidding process against impressive bids from the Bucharest Half Marathon in Romania and the Hans Christian Andersen Marathon from Odense, Denmark.

Election success
The congress saw the following people elected:
President: Paco Borao (Maraton Valencia Trinidad Alfonso, Spain)
Treasurer: Al Boka (Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, USA)
Director: Martha Morales (Tangamanga Marathon, Mexico)
Director: Rachid Ben Meziane (Marrakech Marathon, Morocco)
Director: Fernando Jamarne (Maraton de Santiago, Chile)
Director: Tetsuya (Teddy) Okamura (Nagoya Women's Marathon, Japan)

For the first time ever, the marathon course takes the runners through the Tallinn Zoo.

Tallinna Maraton is held traditionally over the second weekend of September as a three-day event. Locations of starts and finishes, as well as the running tracks have undergone significant changes.