04 April 2023, 4pm
The 23rd World Congress of AIMS was held in Osaka from 23–25 February, followed by the host race, the Osaka Marathon, on 26 February 2023.
It was the first time a Congress had been held since September 2018 when Tallinn Marathon (Estonia) hosted the 22nd AIMS World Congress.
AIMS President Paco Borao welcomed those attending. 103 member events appeared on the list of participants. In his welcoming report to Congress Mr Borao used graphs to show how difficult it had been over the last 4.5 years to keep track of which races were postponed and which were cancelled at times when very few races were being staged because of the physical restrictions in place.
He suggested that 2023 would still be spent chasing the race numbers of the peak year of 2019 of 496 Members compared to the current 402 and this would likely not be achieved until 2024.
The main agenda items after the welcome and future plans of AIMS President Paco Borao, were the financial report from Treasurer Al Boka, and the communication and marketing reports.
The keynote speaker of the whole congress was the lecture of Prof. Shinya Yamanaka (Japan), Director Emeritus, Kyoto University IPS Cell Research Institute. He is a 2012 Nobel Laureate in Medicine and Physiology. According to him, he is probably the only marathon running Nobel laureate.
Later in the morning Kathryn Widu gave a presentation on how the Vienna City Marathon had ‘bounced back’ from covid to become one of the first races to return to mass participation numbers. Unfortunately there had been recent cases of covid within her household and she had to deliver the presentation by video.
An interactive session took place in the afternoon where five groups separately discussed the subject of ‘Lessons learned from Covid’ among themselves before reporting back to the main session.
In the afternoon the candidates for election to the AIMS Board presented themselves.
Proposals from the Board were presented to change the statutes so that the Treasurer, like the General Secretary, is not elected by the members but is appointed by the Board.
In the evening there was the big welcome party with an elaborate show along with a delicious Japanese buffet at the conference hotel New Otani Osaka.
The second day of Congress started with the technical report by Dave Cundy,
Martha Morales then spoke to the AIMS report on the further development of the AIMS Children’s Races and especially on the promotion of the Women’s Run, where AIMS is planning a Women’s Run Conference.
Horst Milde, the AIMS Consultant for the AIMS Marathoneum in Berlin noted the most important new acquisitions in a multi-page brochure “Marathoneum Documents Nr. 6 Rarities and Acquistions from the AIMS Marathoneum“ with the presentation of a distance marker from the London Olympic Marathon 1908 that was acquired by AIMS,. There were also donated items from “Wim Verhoorn Collection“.
Distance Running publisher Frank Baillie had already called upon members to bring a T-shirt and a medal of their running event to the Tallinn Congress. This was an immediate success, Members also brought their race T-shirts and medals to Osaka and these were displayed on a wall in the conference hall.
T-shirts and medals, as well as memorabilia and souvenirs of the Osaka Marathon, will be sent by the Osaka Congress organisers to the AIMS Marathoneum in Berlin.
On the second day Mike Nishi of the Chicago Marathon shared his thoughts on the impact of Covid and what it would mean for future events. An exchange of views between Tad Hayano (Tokyo Marathon) and Fernando Jamarne (Santiago Marathon) revealed how severely covid had impacted on the finances of races which had been forced to cancel but that after the 2022 races had been held it had been possible to see a pathway to recovery over the next editions.
A part of the programme was devoted to AIMS partners making presentations to the delegates on the goods and services they provide, After this a plaque was awarded to Francis Kay of Marathon Photos to mark 20 years of co-operation with AIMS. Francis Kay later arranged the group photo which he has taken at all Congresses held since 2002.
Later in the afternoon Branislav Koniar of the Košice Peace Marathon described how, since his race was founded 100 years ago, it has been held every year thanks to the strong attachment it shares with the city. The robust working relationship has allowed a small city like Košice to achieve much more with its marathon than others of similar size.
Marathon Olympic Champion Mizuki Noguchi (Japan) put in a surprise appearance as a special guest. [Photo: Horst Milde]
Jun Takashina. Director & Deputy Secretary General, Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition OSAKA, then made a presentation on Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai Japan and Marathons
In the evening the AIMS-sponsored film “42.195 km“ was screened in the Congress Hall of the Hotel New Otani.
During the final session of Congress, on the morning of 25 February, a vote was taken to amend the Articles of Association of AIMS so that the position of Treasurer would cease to be an elected position (Board member) and become subject to appointment by the Board of Directors. The vote was carried by 89 votes to 17.
A second vote was held to elect four Board members from the nine that had been proposed and seconded.
The successful candidates were Mike Nishi (Chicago Marathon); Renna Nelis (Tallinn Marathon); Rut Jiroajvanichakorn (Bangsaen 21), and Branislav Koniar (Košice Peace Marathon).
Sunday 26. February 2023
Walk to the 09.15 start of the Osaka Marathon through the Osaka Castle Park), then back to see the finish – more than 32,000 people were expected to participate, including many male and female elite runners.
The organisers of the 23rd AIMS World Congress in Osaka were excellent hosts of a successful event that brought members from all over the world together again after the long years interrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The hosts are to be thanked for an excellent organisation of all procedures, technology and the extremely friendly treatment by the many volunteers. The comfortable premises of the Congress Hotel New Otani Hotel also contributed to the successful event.