Association of International Marathons and Distance Races

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AIMS Marathon Symposium

10 November 2019, 11am

World-wide sharing of expertise on benefits of applied technology

AIMS Marathon Symposium held in Athens


The subject of the 13th AIMS Marathon Symposium held in Athens, Greece on 9 November was “Technology and mass running events”.

Sheng Lan Yang, the vice-director of marketing at the Chinese Athletics Association, in her talk on ‘Technology applications in Chinese marathon races’, gave a highly impressive presentation of the incredible scale of development of running in China, and how technology innovation has been central to developing running opportunities for the people of China. View presentation

Fiona Green, author of Winning with Data-CRM and Analytics for the Business of Sports spoke on ‘Using CRM and Data to Increase Participation, Revenue and Engagement’, giving a fascinating insight of the modern world and how attention span has changed over the years, to the point that the average adult’s current-day attention span is eight seconds (‘a goldfish is nine seconds!’ added Ms Green), for the younger generation six seconds and young children under five years old four seconds.

Ms Green quoted Microsoft founder Bill Gates saying in 1999: ‘How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.’ She said: ‘We live in a world that is competing for time, money and attention and if you want to gain any of those, you have eight seconds or less to gain them before that person’s attention is off somewhere else.’

Ms Green talked about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in the modern world and the key of ‘getting the right message to the right person at the right time’ and how technology and its ability to collect and analyse data enables you to do that. View presentation

Michael Nishi, General Manager of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon spoke on ‘How Technology may support the Safety and Security program of your race’. He gave a very impressive presentation on technology’s central role in enabling the quality of decision making when managing a group of 45,000 people and all the variables that can involve.

The Chicago Marathon has a sophisticated command centre where all the services of police, traffic, fire, medical and expert decision makers are gathered where their decision making is informed by data and technology.

One example given was how the weather temperature is monitored from long before and during the race. The race uses various channels including digital and social media to inform, educate and advise runners and most importantly aim to keep them safe.

In 2007 the Chicago Marathon had to stop its event due to extreme heat. Where of course such actions bring disappointment, they are essential in the interests of the health of participants and the complex process has to be managed and access to data, analysis and communication is central to that process. The use of technology is a key component in effective decision making that in turn can saves lives. View presentation

Vaggelis Vlachos, Software Developer-Electronics Engineer and Eleni Vlachou Market Researcher & Business Consultant-Greece spoke on ‘Artificial Intelligence in Marathon Races’. Ms Vlachou gave an insightful talk about a system that is being developed to identify rogue runners who use false numbers to take part in the race without officially entering and how technology van be used to identify them and help avoid cheating and potential disruption to the event. View presentation

Other speakers included the three Chairpeople of AIMS’ three new commissions started this year:

Martha Morales, Chairperson of the AIMS Women’s Commission talked about the planned initiatives that AIMS is developing around the world such as ‘empowerment for girls’ through running.

Michael Nishi Chairperson of AIMS Safety & Security Commission spoke about the considerable work being developed by AIMS to create models of good practice and test cases to help event organisers improve safety for runners, volunteers and staff and spectators.

George Kazantzopoulos Chairperson of AIMS Sustainability Commission talked about the models of good practice being developed by AIMS looking at examples of excellence in ensuring events are organised in a way that respects the environment. Looking for example at areas of air quality, climate change and waste management.

Paco Borao President of AIMS commented: ‘One of AIMS’ goals is to exchange knowledge and expertise and the AIMS Symposium is an excellent platform for enabling that to happen. Always with the goal of creating a better experience for the true actors of our show: the runners.’

Note to AIMS members: Members are encouraged to review the presentations to be posted on the members section on the AIMS website

The Symposium was arranged in collaboration with SEGAS (the Hellenic Athletics Federation) and ‘Athens Marathon. The Authentic.’ and has been held annually since 2007.

AIMS would like to thank partners and sponsors, in particular the ‘Region of Attica’ as co-organiser of the Symposium, the ‘Greek National Tourism Organisation’ and ‘Athens International Airport’ as official sponsors of the Symposium.


For further information on our partners, click on the logos above.

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