Association of International Marathons and Distance Races

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How AIMS measures courses to ensure that runners can be confident of running an accurate time

Course measurement

AIMS works in partnership with World Athletics (formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)) and together we have adopted the calibrated bicycle method as the only approved method for measuring road races.

Accurate course measurement is a basic requirement of AIMS membership so runners can enter an AIMS road race with the full knowledge that the course will be accurate.

List of AIMS–World Athletics course measurers

World road records
A result of the joint work by AIMS and World Athletics is recognition of world road records from 1 January 2004. The criteria for world records includes strict measurement criteria. As for all AIMS road races, courses must be measured by an accredited AIMS–World Athletics Grade A or B measurer using the calibrated bicycle method. See also Criteria for world records or List of current world record holders.

The criteria for world records include elevation change and separation. These criteria are included to ensure that a course is not excessively downhill or designed in such a way that a tail wind may unduly affect times. Elevation change is measured in terms of the altitude difference between the start and finish. A course must not drop more than 1m/km for it to be eligible for world records. Separation is the distance in a straight line between the start and the finish and is expressed as percentage of the total distance. To be legal for world record purposes, a course must have a separation of not greater than 50 per cent.

Qualifying performances for World Championships & Olympic Games
World Athletics also has strict measurement criteria for courses that can be used for qualifying performances for World Championships and Olympic Games. Courses must be measured by an accredited AIMS–World Athletics Grade A or B measurer and the elevation change must be less than 1m/km. Courses with a separation greater than 50 per cent are eligible for qualification purposes.

AIMS races
All AIMS road races are measured by an accredited AIMS–World Athletics Grade A or B measurer but not all satisfy the World Athletics criteria for world record or qualifying purposes. If you want to check the elevation change and separation for any AIMS road race, please contact the AIMS Technical Director Dave Cundy

The Measurement of Road Races
If you want to read more about the calibrated bicycle method, you can download a copy of the AIMS–World Athletics booklet The Measurement of Road Race Courses

Course Measurement Forms

If you are a measurer wishing to submit a report for certification you can download copies of the standard forms here.

  1. Application for certification of a road course
  2. Summary of measurements
  3. Overview of the measurement procedure
  4. Detail of the calibration course
  5. Steel taping data sheet
  6. Bicycle calibration data sheet
  7. Course measurement data sheet

These forms are available in Adobe PDF format. You can download the free Adobe Reader here.

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For measurement of courses

By the Book
For a general introduction to principles behind measurement, read the article By the Book


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