AIMS Marathon Symposium 2008
'Adding value to your marathon’ was the topic of the 2nd
AIMS Marathon Symposium held in Marathon (Greece) on 8 November. The
Symposium took place on the day before the 26th Athens
Classic Marathon which featured more than 10,000 runners (including
running events at shorter distances) for the first time in its history.
A large number of Race Directors from around the globe came to Marathon
to participate in the Symposium.
While Berlin’s AIMS Executive Board Member Horst Milde and Kostas
Panagopoulos of the Athens Classic Marathon chaired the Symposium the
event was supported by the Mayor of the city of Marathon, Spiridon
Zagaris, as well as the Greek Athletics Federation SEGAS and the
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). “This second
Symposium was an even bigger success than the first one a year ago.
Marathon simply makes the best venue for such an event since there is so
much history here and we had a number of events taking place that
symbolized just this,” said Horst Milde.
The Athens Classic Marathon traditionally leads from Marathon to Athens.
It was there where the story of the classic race began back in the
inaugural modern Olympic Games of 1896. The idea of the marathon
originates from the legend of Pheidippidis, who is said to have run the
distance from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens to announce the
Greek victory against the Persians in 490 BC.
So in two years time it will be exactly 2500 years since the origin of
the marathon race. The year 2010 was already a major topic in Athens and
Marathon this past weekend. “As you all know we approach to the year
2010 which will be a landmark in the history of the classical marathon
race since it will be 2,500 years after the Battle of Marathon, the
cause for this race to be born,” said Hiroaki Chosa the President of
AIMS from Japan. “The Athens Marathon is unique because of its history ?
it is the marathon,” said Horst Milde, who strongly believes that
this is potentially one of the greatest races on earth. “In 2010 it will
be the race everyone will want to run. It will be the race of the
|While the Athens Classic Marathon has its unique position
because of the history other race organisers who attended the
AIMS Symposium were encouraged by speakers to work out aspects
of their races that are either unique or characteristic. “If we
carry a race on Eurosport for two or three hours our
commentators need good topics to talk about,” said Patrick
Maitrot, the Director of Marketing and Partnerships of Eurosport.
He said it is not enough to show the leading group alone. An
attractive city or a special venue are important factors and a
big field helps as well ? all this makes additional stories to
the ones provided by the elite field. Maitrot said that
marathons are also getting more and more popular among companies
regarding advertisements ? during the TV coverage and also if
there is online coverage.
Photo - Victah Sailer/photorun.net
But as international journalists Bob Ramsak and Pat Butcher stressed
race organisers have to provide a good media service to make the most of
their events. “You have to have an experienced PR person who can make
race information and statistics available before, during and after the
race,” said Bob Ramsak. While it is obvious that national and
international media interest is closely connected to an appropriate
elite field Pat Butcher suggested to try to go for something unusual to
create additional stories. “For example the Dresdner Kleinwort Frankfurt
Marathon this year signed the former steeple chase world record holder
Bernard Barmasai. That made a good story internationally before the
race. It is one idea to invite former superstars.”
The participants of the AIMS Symposium all went to the Marathon Tomb, at
the battlefield of 490BC. This was the venue for a ceremony and a show
by actors who symbolized the marathon race with all its strains. “As the
marathon spirit grows and expands throughout the world I feel that
humanity should pay tribute to Greece, Marathon and Athens for their
symbolism and historic value as the birth place of the ancient Olympic
Games, which were later revived in modern times in this same country,”
stated Hiroaki Chosa. Together with Maria Polizou (Greek marathon record
holder with 2:33:40) Hiroaki Chosa was later to light the "Marathon
Fire", which was brought to the starting point of Sunday’s race by a
torch relay. Children covered the distance of about 5km from the
Marathon Tomb to Marathon.
Maria Polizou and
Hiroaki Chosa lighting the 'Marathon Fire’ in Marathon
Photo - Victah Sailer/photorun.net
At the starting point of the Athens Classic Marathon a stone was
unveiled, which was found at the former starting point of the Olympic
Marathon in 1896. It carries the figure 40, which marks the distance of
40 kilometres the marathon runners had to cover at the first Olympics.
Finally there was another ceremony at the Marathon Museum in Marathon.
Representatives of the city of Xiamen (China), where a big annual
marathon takes place and which was the host city of the last World
Congress of AIMS in March 2007, unveiled two statues showing marathon
runners. Much to the delight of Marathon’s mayor Spiridon Zagaris Xiamen
donated these to the Marathon Museum.