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Ted Corbitt laid the basis for measurement of road running courses in the USA and was the founding president of NYRR (New York Road Runners. He was black; and many assume he was the first black American endurance runner of historic importance.
Corbitt (1919–2007) was a formidable figure in long-distance running, but he was far from the first – or the only – notable African American long-distance runner. The history of black running in America dates back to at least the 1870s and is both rich and profound.
Gary Corbitt, Ted’s son, has spent years researching and writing about black American running and bringing many untold stories to life. He founded the Ted Corbitt Archive to preserve and highlight some of the amazing and almost forgotten stories of black American runners, coaches, clubs, teams, events, supporters and leaders.
“My dad always told me he wasn’t alone – that there were other great black American long-distance runners,” says Gary. “I didn’t know how rich the story was until I started looking into it myself.”
Using books, articles, and a huge amount of primary documents, Gary created a “Black Running History 100 years (1880–1979)” timeline that spanned 100 years (1880–1979). “The work is not finished yet,” he says. “I have probably captured 75 percent of what is known from this 100-year period.”
He was inspired by a story his father told him about a letter he received from a young black runner. “The runner wrote that he wished he had known about my dad when he was in school and the coaches steered him away from long-distance running and into sprints,” said Gary. “If he’d had a black long-distance runner like my father as a role model, things might have turned out differently. I want today’s young black runners to know that they are part of a rich history and that they have many role models.”
Here are just a few of the highlights from the Chronicle. See tedcorbitt.com for more.
In the late 1870s the most popular sport in the United States – and a few other countries – was pedestrianism: multi-day running and walking competitions over hundreds of miles, often on covered lanes in front of large crowds. Participants came from all walks of life and one of the most successful was a young black runner named Frank Hart (above, left). Born Fred Hichborn in Haiti in 1858 he moved to Boston as a teenager, worked as a grocer, and started running long distance runs to make extra money. He changed his name when he became a professional “walker” (pedestrian).
Hart won the prestigious O’Leary Belt Six Days at Madison Square Garden in 1880 completing an astonishing 565 miles – a world record. The runner-up, William Pegram, was also black. Hart’s success earned him fame and fortune; his image was featured on trading cards (the forerunner of baseball cards) nationwide, and he likely made over USD 100,000 in his lifetime thanks to the legal gambling that was at the heart of the sport and even allowed participants to wager on themselves.
Unfortunately Hart also endured racism, including heckling and physical harassment from viewers and snubs and slurs from his rivals. In the late 1880s baseball – with its rigid racial segregation policy – ousted walking in popularity. As an excellent all-round athlete, Hart joined a “Negro League Team” for a few years.
The spirit of the march (pedestrian) era inspired Ted Corbitt, who ran (and won) many ultra runs, completing 68.9 miles in 24 hours at the age of 82. “My father talked about running 600 miles in six days and walking 100 miles in 24 hours,” said Gary. “These were milestones from the marchers’ days, the meaning of which I only fully understood much later, after his death.”
Several black running clubs in NYC in the early 1900s, including the Salem Crescent Athletic Club, St. Christopher’s Club of NY, and the Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn, showcased the talents of a generation of black runners at sprint to marathon distances.
In 1919, Aaron Morris of the St. Christopher Athletic Club finished sixth in the Boston Marathon in 2:37:13, making him the first known African American to run the race. At the 1920 Boston Marathon, Morris’ teammate Cliff Mitchell finished eighth in 2:41:43. Mitchell finished 13th in Boston in 1921, and another St. Christopher runner, John Goff, finished ninth that year in 2:37:35.
The New York Pioneer Club, which was founded in Harlem in 1936 by trainer Joe Yancey and two other black men, campaigned to give everyone interested and qualified regardless of race a chance. “It was an integrated running team that preceded the integration of professional sport,” says Gary Corbitt. Ted Corbitt joined the Pioneer Club in 1947 and in 1958 he and other members formed the core of the New York Road Runners.
Opportunities for female long-distance runners were few before the early 1970s. NYRR always allowed women as members and in its events, but the Boston Marathon excluded women until 1972, the same year that a women’s 1500m (less than a mile) run was added to the Olympic programme.
In the 1970s Marilyn Bevans of Baltimore emerged as the first competitive modern black American marathon runner. She was the first black American to win a marathon – the Washington Birthday Marathon in Maryland in 1975. She finished fourth in the 1975 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:55:52, making her the first black American to win a marathon run in under three hours. She completed a total of 13 marathons under three hours. Bevans later became a coach and is now in her 70s
This article originally appeared on NYRR.org , the website of New York Road Runners, and is republished with permission. Photo: Gary Corbitt (with permission, NYRR)
The BMW Berlin-Marathon (GER) will take place on Sun 26 September 2021, not Mon 27 September 2021 as previously published.
The Milton Keynes Marathon & Half Marathon (GBR) will be Sat 1 May 2021—Mon 3 May 2021, not Sun 2 May 2021—Mon 3 May 2021 as previously published.
The Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon (IND) will take place on Sun 7 March 2021, not Sun 21 February 2021 as previously published.
The Ageas Federal Life Insurance Kolkata Full Marathon (IND) will take place on Sun 14 March 2021, not Sun 7 March 2021 as previously published.
Ted Metellus is being promoted from Vice President of Events of the New York Road Runners (NYRR) to become race director of the New York City Marathon.
As such he is the first Black race director of any of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Former race director Jim Heim stepped down in January.
Organisers of the Comrades Marathon created a “Wall of Honour” back in 1993 as a permanent landmark to commemorate the achievements of the Comrades runners who covered the epic distance between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Building the Wall began in 1993 with plaques being available for purchase since 1994. It is constructed from interlocking blocks such as those commonly used for retaining walls. Runners who have successfully completed the Comrades Marathon can acquire their own building blocks to last forever. These are mounted on an attractive badge, which records the name, start number and personal status of the runner, which can be updated in later years.
The plaques are bought by runners, family members or friends on their behalf in order to give them away on special birthdays, anniversaries, Comrades milestones or other occasions. The Wall of Honour memorial pads cost ZAR 550 (EUR 30) per pad. This includes the block, the plaque and the engraving as well as the maintenance and care of the block and the site for posterity.
The wall is situated close to the halfway mark on the Comrades route, just outside Drummond. On a down run it would be on the left as you make your way through the valley of a Thousand Hills.
The stretch of road beside which the Wall of Honour is located is on the municipal boundary alongside PheZulu Game Private Park and has the potential to be extended for many years to come. It forms a retaining wall which now stretches over 200m long. Covered with green and yellow Comrades plaques there are now over 6000 of them, belonging runners who have successfully completed the Comrades at least once. They have placed their names on this wall to commemorate their race achievements. Runners who have earned their Permanent number (run Comrades more than 10 times) have a green plaque while those who have run less than 10 have a yellow plaque.
A runner who already has a plaque on the wall and has achieved their green number, double, triple or quadruple green number, can upgrade their plaque on the wall to reflect their prestigious status as a green number. The upgrade of the badge costs ZAR 275 (EUR 15). Only one block/badge per finisher is allowed. Plaques can be purchased retrospectively.
The first section of the wall is set aside and contains the plaques of former Comrades winners. The Comrades Marathon Association awards these to the winners starting from the first race winner, Bill Rowan, in 1921. On average about 500 runners a year are added to the Wall of Honour. Our virtual events don’t qualify for addition to the Wall.
The Hokkaido Marathon Organizing Committee has decided to suspend the 2021 Games, following its cancellation last year.
Organisers said in a statement on their website:
“This competition is usually held on the last Sunday of August, but this year it is difficult to secure personnel involved in overall management due to the period of the Tokyo Paralympics. [Olympic events] will be held in Sapporo from August 5 to 8. Facilities related to the Games will be set up in Odori Park, which is the venue for the Hokkaido Marathon in the Olympic Marathon and the Paralympic Games, and it will take a long time to restore the original condition. We ask for the understanding and cooperation of runners and related parties.”
Tokyo Olympics men’s marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura has withdrawn from the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon to be held on 28 February.
Nakamura suffered mild pain in his left foot and, combined with not meeting his training goals last month, decided to take time off before resuming light jogging.
Nakamura said: “Lake Biwa was going to be my first marathon in a long time so I’d been looking forward to it. The pain has already faded, and doesn’t look like it will get in the way of training, but we decided not to risk more serious injury and to withdraw in favour of being ready for the Tokyo Olympics… My first priority is to show up at the Tokyo Olympics ready to race.”
The Nagoya Women’s Marathon, to be held on 14 March, announced the elite field on the same day that vaccinations officially began in Japan. It’s another domestic-only race, but it has a great potential trio up front and looks to be going ahead as a mass-participation race.
Up front are last year’s Osaka International Women’s Marathon winner Mizuki Matsuda, 25 km national record co-holder Sayaka Sato, and Tokyo Olympics marathon team member Ayuko Suzuki. Suzuki is only 9th by recent time, but with a half marathon best of 1:07:55 and this being her first shot at a fast marathon she’s definitely got the potential to stay with Matsuda and Sato.
Nagoya is heavy this year on talent in the first-timer department, Ikumi Fukura coming in top-ranked with a best of 1:09:58 and four others with bests under 71 minutes. Further down the field, 62-year-old Mariko Yugeta will be trying to better the 2:52:13 60+ world record she set in Osaka this year.
Before Corona Nagoya was the largest women-only marathon in the world but last year it was held as an elite-only race. This year it took mass-participation entrants up to a limit of 11,000. Earlier this month Nagoya issued a statement inviting entrants to switch to a virtual race, but at this stage it looks like it will go ahead with an on-site race for every entrant who still wants to run, assuming no extension to the current state of emergency set to expire on 7 March. With every other race in Japan that size having already cancelled or postponed this season, going ahead with its race would put Nagoya in a class of its own and give some much-needed hope that things are actually starting to turn around.
Starting on Wednesday 24 February, MCM Runners Club members have a two-week early-registration window to enter the 46th Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and the 2021 MCM50K.
Members of the MCM Runners Club – an exclusive group of runners who have finished the MCM five times or more – will be able to register and secure a spot in this year’s MCM and MCM50K prior to the general registration in March.
Currently, the 2021 MCM Weekend is scheduled as a virtual event with the possibility of a live version in October in accordance with local guidelines. Virtual entries are USD 55 (EUR 45) plus a processing fee and are available to runners ages 14 and older at www.marinemarathon.com.
All MCM and MCM50K virtual participants will receive the official event shirt, a stunning finisher medal, patch, socks, digital bib and collectible bib delivered in a branded Mission Accomplished finisher box.
Registration for the virtual 46th MCM and MCM50K opens to the public on Wednesday, March 10 at 17.00 GMT via www.marinemarathon.com. Ambitious runners can once again sign up for the Semper Fidelis Challenge, a two-event challenge including either the Historic Half or the Devil Dog Double in May 2021 and the MCM or the MCM50K in October 2021, as well as the MCM Trifecta.
From April 9 to 11, 2021, runners, inline skaters, wheelchair athletes and hand cyclists are invited to participate in the Virtual Generali Berlin Half Marathon.
This extra event is a completely independent event. It will function as a spring start as well as a bridging event until the real Generali Berlin Half Marathon, which is scheduled for August 22, 2021.
There will be a 10k option in addition to the 21.0975-kilometre event that gives the race its name. With the shorter distance, SCC Events is deliberately catering to runners who may have only found their enjoyment of endurance sports during the current pandemic and now want to face their first challenges.
The 40th anniversary of the Generali Berlin Half Marathon will take place on August 22, 2021. There are only a few starting spots left for this big anniversary event.
The Moonlight Half Marathon (ITA) will take place on Sat 26 June 2021, not Sat 29 May 2021 as previously published.
The Linker Oevert Marathon Antwerp (BEL) will take place on Sun 28 November 2021, not Sun 17 October 2021 as previously published.
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has sought to distance itself from inaccurate media speculation that the 100-year-old road running institution is in a perilous financial position.
CMA Chairperson, Cheryl Winn says, “We would like to correct recent media reports asserting that the Comrades Marathon Association is facing financial hardships with the future of the race being in jeopardy.”
Winn adds, “Quite to the contrary, we are actually in a healthy financial state despite having cancelled two consecutive editions of the Comrades Marathon, owing to Covid-19 and the resultant lockdown and associated restrictions on mass participation sporting events. We hosted a hugely successful inaugural virtual Comrades Marathon event last year with another one planned for the 13th of June; and are in a privileged position to also have a contingency reserve fund of over R28-million, accumulated over the past two decades, to sustain the future of our world-famous event.”
“The CMA is in fact currently in a very healthy financial position thanks to the prudent financial controls of the current Board and the foresight of previous administrations in setting aside funds in anticipation of some future ‘rainy day’.”
Winn concludes, “We would like to put to rest media speculation that the world’s oldest, biggest and most famous ultra-marathon and one of South Africa’s foremost sporting treasures is facing a bleak financial future or on the verge of closing shop. Reference to potential staff retrenchments is premature and unfounded and we are grateful to our staff for coming forward with workable proposals to weather the storm and continue to diligently serve the organisation in the current tough climate in which we find ourselves.”
“The CMA Board’s number one priority is to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of our runners, staff, volunteers, sponsors, stakeholders and fellow South Africans, while our number two priority is to sustain the Comrades Marathon as a national institution that is symbolically and economically critical to the sport of athletics in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa, for the next 100 years.”
“All that the CMA is effectively and responsibly doing is tightening its purse strings and preserving all possible resources for when it is safe and possible to host the next Comrades Marathon, in line with the green light from our provincial and national athletics federations and in accordance with government regulations.”
With the inaugural Comrades Marathon having been held on 24 May 1921, the Comrades Marathon celebrates 100 years since its first running this year, with the launch of the Comrades Marathon Centenary Celebrations on 24 May and the hosting of the 2nd Comrades Virtual Event on Sunday, 13 June 2021.
As the only game in town for its final running before being swallowed up by the Osaka Marathon’s ambitions, the 76th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, to be held on 28 February, has put together the best field in its history.
Times in the last three years don’t mean what they used to, but even so Lake Biwa has two men sub-2:07, 7 sub-2:08, 13 sub-2:09, 25 sub-2:10, 40 sub-2:11 and 53 sub-2:12. All are Japanese except one, Japan-based Kenyan Simon Kariuki.
Among them are 2:06 men Ryu Takaku and Hiroto Inoue, half marathon national record holder Yusuke Ogura, 2019 Fukuoka winner Taku Fujimoto, Tokyo Olympics marathon trials winner Shogo Nakamura, 100 km world record holder Nao Kazami and many more. There are at least another seven men with half marathon bests under 62 minutes making debuts or trying to finish a marathon for the first time.
Lake Biwa results often end up not being as fast as looked likely on paper but with a field like this, and pacers including sub-60 Kenyan James Rungaru and former Komazawa University teammates Kenta Murayama and Shinobu Kubota, it should be on for something good if the weather cooperates. NHK will be broadcasting the whole thing live, nationwide and commercial-free starting at 09.00 local time on the day.
The Almaty Half Marathon (KAZ) will take place on Sun 16 May 2021, not Sun 17 October 2021 as previously published.
The “NN Mission Marathon” will be run on a 10.5km loop in the centre of Hamburg and organised by the “NN Running Team” of Jos Hermens in cooperation with the Hamburg Marathon.
Currently there are very few Olympic qualifying opportunities in the marathon due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s race was postponed from its usual April date to Autumn but, despite offering a comprehensive hygiene plan, organisers were refused permission on the grounds that attendance by spectators would present a severe risk of spreading the virus.
Ten top German runners will attack the Olympic qualifying standards in Hamburg – 2:11:30 (men) and 2:29:30 (women) – but only three places are available. On the men’s start list are two who already have the qualifying time: Hendrik Pfeiffer (2:10:18) and Richard Ringer (2:10:59).
The German marathon record holder Amanal Petros is assured of a place with his time of 2:07:18. The target time in Hamburg will be around 2:10. The situation is similar for the women with Melat Kejeta securing a place due to her 2:23:57 best. Behind her in the race for the Olympic tickets are Deborah Schöneborn (2:26:55), Katharina Steinruck (2:27:26) and Rabea Schöneborn (2:28:42).
The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) will be hosting a limited-capacity, in-person, live version of the Marine Corps 17.75km on Saturday 20 March.
It will be held in a new location aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. The event has previously been hosted in Prince William Forest Park.
Beginning on Tuesday 16 February runners who deferred from the cancelled 2020 event will be invited to opt into the live version, followed by runners registered for the virtual event. Those registered for the virtual 17.75km may opt into the in-person event beginning on Thursday 18 February. Further instructions will be sent to the e-mail address provided by participants during registration within the next few days.
Any remaining entries available for the limited in-person 11.03-mile event will then be opened to the general public on Monday, 22 February
The field of 500 participants will be divided into two social-distanced, separate start times to be held at 08.00 and 10.00.
Virtual 17.75km registration remains open at www.marinemarathon.com. Runners must register before 18 February for an opportunity to opt into the live version. All finishers receive a Tun Tavern-themed shirt, finisher medal and collectible bib.
Australia’s most popular holiday marathon event – the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon – is set to return in 2021 with the announcement that entries will open at 09.00 on Monday 15 February.
Mayor of the City of Gold Coast Tom Tate said it was welcome news for the Gold Coast and Queensland after the event was forced to turn virtual in 2020 in response to COVID-19.
“I’m thrilled to see the event back after the coronavirus-driven loss of the 2020 edition saw the Gold Coast miss out on many million of dollars in economic impact. For over 40 years the marathon and associated events have enticed thousands upon thousands of visitors to escape to the Gold Coast from their colder home climates for an unmatched sports holiday experience. We will miss our international runners this year but by staging a successful event in July the Gold Coast will showcase to the world that we are again open for major events” said Mayor Tate.
Village Roadshow Theme Parks General Manager of Marketing Renee Souter backed today’s announcement.
“We are proud to support this iconic event as naming rights sponsor,” Ms Souter said. “The event showcases the Gold Coast like no other… When the runners and their families come to the Gold Coast they stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our shopping centres, and of course visit our theme parks.
Events Management Queensland CEO Cameron Hart said: “We have seen other smaller events adapting to the ‘new normal’ of event delivery with tight health regulations, social distancing and other responsible management measures. Subsequently we have developed extensive plans to balance all the health regulations while providing a world class running experience on course.”
“This year we have moved the ASICS Half Marathon from the Sunday to the Saturday to spread our crowd more evenly and we’ve cancelled the usual pre-race check-in centre and expo in favour of mailing out race kits. We have also implemented wave race starts, and we’ll be providing personal protection equipment to the runners.
The 2021 Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon will be run on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 July, starting and finishing at the spectacular Southport Broadwater Parklands.
The solidarity race with the Saharawi refugees will be held in a virtual way during the last week of February. Participants will be able to run in their country while supporting the humanitarian project.in support of Western Sahara at this very delicate moment.
The Sahara needs us like never before. At a time when Covid19 has hit the whole world, the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf are experiencing an extremely complicated situation in which their precarious living conditions are compounded by the impact of the pandemic and the consequences of the war conflict that has resumed after 30 years of ceasefire.
In these circumstances and given the impossibility of performing the Sahara Marathon in person and with the assistance of runners from all over the world, the organisation of the solidarity race has launched a very special edition with a virtual event. Runners and supporters of the Saharawi cause will be able to participate in the prestigious race through a digital application that will be available once the registration is made (EUR 15 [USD 18]) and that will allow the athletes to run from anywhere in the world.
The Sahara Marathon is a solidarity race organised by the Saharawi Ministry of Youth and Sports and a group of volunteers from different countries. During the last twenty years, the race in the desert has served as a platform to denounce the unjust situation that exists in Western Sahara and to tackle countless solidarity projects in the refugee camps. Thousands of runners from all continents have travelled during this time to the Algerian desert to live the experience provided by this race and to bond with refugee families. In this unique edition of 2021, the objectives of the event remain, although the experience will be different.
Participants will be able to carry out their race during the last week of February. They will be able to choose the most appropriate distance (5, 10, 21 or 42 km) and even run in different distances or repeat the race throughout the week (the best time will be validated). The application also invites runners to upload their videos and messages of solidarity with the Sahara to their social networks. All the money contributed for this solidarity project, as well as the donations or acquisitions of the inscription pack (T-shirt, tubular scarf and bib number), will be used in the Sahara Marathon solidarity project, which on this occasion is about Saharawi families in need of direct help, through the purchase and distribution of a basic food basket bought on site to favour the local economy.
On 26 February, the usual date for holding the marathon in other editions, a race (5, 10 km and children race) will be organised in the Saharawi refugee camps, where Saharawi athletes will participate, with the aim of keeping the spirit of the Sahara Marathon alive . The pandemic has caused significant restrictions to humanitarian aid for the Saharawi refugee camps during the last year, as well as to all the visits of aid workers and people in solidarity with the Saharawi, leading the refugee camps to a humanitarian crisis that is added to the global health crisis,. We therefore invite all regular participants in the Sahara Marathon, as well as all those committed to this cause, to support this alternative project by participating in the virtual race or contributing a small donation via www.saharamarathon.org. As it says on the official race jersey: “The desert wind will spread the Saharawi voice around the world.”
“As professional [race] organisers, we are ready to conduct our events in a safe manner,” says Vienna City Marathon Race Director Wolfgang Konrad. “As Austria’s largest running organiser we are a partner for an optimistic and responsible [solution].”
Sport-Austria President Hans Niessl and environmental doctor Hans-Peter Hutter recently emphasised the importance of sport for health. “It is long overdue to take the next step,” said Hutter at a media meeting that called for club sports to be opened up. A lack of exercise and inactivity lead to negative effects and long-term consequences for physical mental health.
Running events are the greatest motivational driver for people to exercise regularly, to keep fit, to find physical and mental balance and to prevent damage to health. “We understand that stable openings depend on the overall situation. Running events should be in the front row when making a comeback,” says Konrad.
Outdoor active sports events without direct physical contact should be allowed again in a step-by-step plan. A clear regulatory distinction is required from passive events with spectators. Previous Covid-19 regulations have always differentiated events according to whether “marked and assigned seats” are available or not. When it comes to the maximum number of persons, the legislature has thought of spectators, not active participants. This categorisation does not do justice to the character of active sports events. Measures such as rapid tests and clear Covid-19 prevention concepts should enable a step-by-step return to competition.
Organisers conscientiously implement preventative measures
At the Osaka International Women’s Marathon on 31 January 62-year old Mariko Yugeta ran 2:52:13 for 48th place, massively improving her own women’s 60+ world record of 2:56:54.
“It was hard, but I’m glad I could improve my best,” she said.
Yugeta’s training load is incredible. In the summer she runs 800km per month and she typically runs a marathon every month. Her new record was the result of hard work. Where she has had problems with slowing down after 20km in the past, this time that didn’t happen.
But at the same time she experienced fatigue in her build-up to the race, and on 3 January she felt pain in her right gluteus maximus. For two weeks she had acupuncture treatments and went to hot springs to try to take care of the problems. For the race she also used taping, and she was able to run it pain-free.
Yugeta is entered in the Nagoya Women’s Marathon on 14 March. Ever ambitious, she said: “I want to keep my legs in perfect condition and go for 2:50 or 2:51.”
The announcement that the BAA Boston Marathon will be held on 11 October compacts four of the six races that make up the World Marathon Majors series into a period of 15 days.
The full schedule is as follows:
27 September – BMW Berlin Marathon
3 October – Virgin Money London Marathon
10 October – Bank of America Chicago Marathon
11 October – BAA Boston Marathon
17 October – Tokyo Marathon
7 November – TCS New York City Marathon
London, Tokyo and now Boston have all transferred from traditional dates in the spring on the assumption that anti-covid precautions would still be in place in spring and make it impossible to stage mass-participation events.
Mao Ichiyama ran 15 laps of Osaka’s Nagai Park behind a pair of male pacers, right up to the entrance to the track finish, to cross the line in a world-leading 2:21:11. Her time was two minutes short of Mizuki Noguchi’s 2:19:12 national record but clipped 7 seconds off Noguchi’s event record.
Her Tokyo Olympics marathon teammate Honami Maeda was the only other woman to try to go with her, dropping off NR pace before 15km but hanging on for an 18-second PB of 2:23:30 for 2nd with the help of another male pacer who stayed with her right to the start of the track finish. Ichiyama only made it through halfway on NR pace but she did manage to rally in the last few km to get under Noguchi’s event record. Osaka organisers announced that Ichiyama’s mark would be listed as a mixed race record alongside Noguchi’s women-only record.
Next up for both Ichiyama and Maeda marathon-wise is the Tokyo Olympic marathon in Sapporo. In theory, at least.
Yukari Abe and Mao Uesugi ran in the likewise male-paced second group sticking together the whole way on low-2:24 pace before taking 3rd and 4th in big PBs of 2:24:41 and 2:24:52. The debuting Ayumi Hagiwara started in the third group before moving up mid-race to finish 5th in 2:26:15. Reia Iwade (Adidas), who ran a PB of 2:23:52 just under two years ago in Nagoya, dropped out before halfway after starting out with Abe and Uesugi.
Further back, after missing the Osaka qualifying time but making the cut by placing in December’s Osaka 30km 60+ world record holder Mariko Yugeta put in the performance of a lifetime, going from last place at 5km in the field of 71 starters to take 4:41 off her own 60+ world record with a 2:52:13 for 48th among the 61 finishers. Yugeta ran negative splits in her previous world record but this time went through halfway in 1:25:01. Could sub-2:50 be within sight?
Neither Ichiyama nor Maeda seemed especially happy with their results, and despite having an all-star commentary team of Japanese marathon legends including Noguchi, Yoko Shibui, Naoko Takahashi, Masako Chiba, Yuko Arimori and Akemi Masuda, the broadcast seemed to lack energy, amplified by the amount of attention paid to the male pacers. From a broadcast perspective it’s hard to see this kind of paced-time-trial-in-a-park marathon taking off, and from another perspective there’s cause for worry about the future.
Police in Japan are notoriously difficult about road closure permits. Given the relative success today performance-wise – with an event record, five PBs, and a good debut out of the top eight women, what’s to stop the police from questioning why they should issue permits in the future when people can run fast inside a park? If that was to happen, based on today’s showing, it would be a serious blow to the sport’s popularity without a serious reworking of how they approach the broadcast.
The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has announced that if road races are allowed to take place as part of the Massachusetts reopening plan, the 125th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, 11 October 2021.
“We announce the 2021 Boston Marathon date with a cautious optimism, understanding full well that we will continue to be guided by science and our continued collaborative work with local, city, state, and public health officials,” said Tom Grilk, President and C.E.O. of the B.A.A. “If we are able to hold an in-person race in October, the safety of participants, volunteers, spectators, and community members will be paramount.”
“Massachusetts continues to fight COVID-19 and distribute vaccines across the Commonwealth, and with brighter days ahead, we are looking forward to getting back to a new normal in 2021,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We will continue to work with local partners and the B.A.A. to monitor the situation and remain hopeful that the 125th Boston Marathon can take place this October.”
“While it was of course the right thing to do, cancelling the 2020 Boston Marathon for the first time in its 124-year history was one of the hardest announcements to make,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Today, I’m filled with hope, as we set our sights on October for the running of the 125th Boston Marathon. We have a ways to go before we’re out of the woods, but guided by sound judgment and the advice of our public health experts, I am hopeful that we’ll get to enjoy the return of one of Boston’s most storied traditions this fall.”
In celebration of the 125th Boston Marathon, the B.A.A. will also offer a virtual race option. Additional details including field size for the in-person race, registration dates, safety measures and protocols, and participant requirements that will be in place will be forthcoming. The event plan will be pending future approval from the eight cities and towns that comprise the marathon route.
Road races are currently not permitted until Phase 4 of the Massachusetts reopening plan. The Commonwealth reverted to Phase III, step 1 of the reopening plan on 13 December 2020.
Due to increasing infection rates in Japan the number of participants in the 40th Osaka Women’s Marathon on 31 January has been limited to 99 and the traditional course through the city changed to a 2.8km lap (x 15) in Nagai Park followed by the finish in the Yanmar Nagai Stadium.
For the same reasons foreign athletes have not been invited and the focus is entirely on the Japanese elite. Among those running are Mao Ichiyama (JPN) and Honami Maeda (JPN), who have already qualified for their country’s Olympic team at the Marathon Grand Championships. Ichiyama won the Nagoya marathon in 2:20:29 last year, while Maeda won the Olympic qualification in 2:25:15 in September 2019. Her best time of 2:23:48 was second in Osaka in 2018, and in the same year she was seventh in 2:25:23 in the Berlin Marathon.
The organisers plan to attack the national record for the women’s marathon of 2:19:12 (set by Mizuki Noguchi at the 2005 Berlin Marathon). The two top runners, in another departure from tradition, will be paced by a total of six men, including the unattached runner Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) and Juji Iwata (JPN). With personal bests of 2:08:14 and 2:08:45 respectively they are likely to maintain pacing duties until shortly before the stadium entrance.
Entries for the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon on 28 February closed on 22 January. With most other races cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus crisis Lake Biwa this year received nearly double the normal number of applications for entry.
Putting on the race with such a large field poses problems and prevent the organisation from safely executing all planned coronavirus countermeasures. As a result revised entry standards will be applied based on World Athletics scoring points as follows: 10000m: 30:40; half marathon: 1:07:29; marathon: 2:27:30.
After proof of qualification from each entrant was checked on 25 January notifications were sent to all those who were unable to participate under these new standards. Information regarding refund of entry fees was included. Those eligible to participate will be notified around 5 February, on which date there will be a virtual press conference to announce the elite athlete field.
Further operational changes may become necessary as the situation regarding the virus evolves, said the organisers.
There are multiple reports where people have claimed that Lake Biwa has also rejected all entries from abroad, after initially being open to international participation.
The PolarNight Halfmarathon in Tromsø has been organised every year since 2004 and incorporated distances at 5km, 10km and half marathon. In 2021 the race also included a marathon distance, called the Ishavskraft Marathon.
In Tromsø (350km north of the Arctic Circle) we started the year as usual with the PolarNight Halfmarathon. We usually get 2000 runners from all over the world, which makes it Norway’s biggest winter race. This year’s race on 9 January was special in many ways. Usually anything from a winter wonderland and white puffy snow to icy wind, rain and a slippery surface can present itself. This year there were no snow-covered streets but bare asphalt and a colourful sky. The surrounding arctic scenery provides a spectacular frame and mood for the race. The Northern Lights could be seen in the evenings before and on race day.
While the usual races (half marathon, 10K and 5K) take place in the urban areas of Tromsø, the Ishavskraft Marathon took runners to the secluded outer coastline, where the darkness and the cold and potentially severe climate makes everything much harder. All participants had to have previously run a marathon within four hours. This first edition had a maximum of 50 brave souls who fought their way against wind and darkness to the city centre of Tromsø. Magnus Warvik was the first to cross the finish line, in 2:48:05. The first woman was Una Bratlie (3:28:12).
The –7ºC and icy 10m/s wind in your face made the PolarNight Halfmarathon far from easy but the bare asphalt brought new records: 4 of them in the half marathon and 10km. Sebastian Conrad Håkansson (1:08:27) and Stian Dahl Sommerseth (1:09:30) crushed the existing half marathon record while Yngvild Kaspersen set a new women’s record of 1:18:43. Erik Lomås ran a new record of 31:31 in the Mørketidsmila (10km).
The ongoing pandemic demanded extraordinary organisation to ensure the safety of participants and volunteers. The field was reduced to around 700, mostly Norwegians and a few foreign runners who work in Norway. Every second of the race was planned to accord with the Covid-19 infection control rules. A maximum of 200 participants per distance was allowed with 25 starting together in small groups. We also extended the timeframe to nine hours instead of the usual four and recruited additional staff to ensure infection control measures and distancing between participants. The supportive onlookers for which our race is famous were banned from the arena in this year’s race. We have to thank all our participants and volunteers who showed an extraordinary discipline and kept distance at all times.
Excited runners gave us positive feedback: that they felt completely safe and enjoyed the break from the tough times we are experiencing right now. The race was not organised for profit but for the love of running and competing. Our aim was to provide a safe event for everyone. It was a positive start in the new year that gives us hope and energy for 2021.
Quebec Running Events Corporation and Gestev have opened registration for two landmark events on the Je Cours Qc running calendar.
The Lévis Half-Marathon will be held as a two-day event this year and moved to later in the season than usual, the weekend of 28–29 August. And the flagship Beneva Quebec City Marathon, a healthy invitation from Brunet, is on the calendar as planned for 1–3 October 2021.
“We conducted a feasibility review for each and every one of our races,” said executive event producer for Gestev, Marianne Pelchat. “Our findings showed that as things stand, it’s feasible for us to present two of the events on our regular calendar safely in 2021 if the public health guidelines will allow. We’re confident that by 2022, we’ll be able to present a full calendar of five races again as usual.” If it is not possible to hold [the other] events in 2021, all registered participants will receive a refund.
As well as moving from May to August this year, the Lévis Half-Marathon will be held over two days instead of one to comply with public health regulations stipulating how many participants are permitted to be in a given place at one time. This change will make it possible to accommodate a maximum of 4,575 entrants for the 21.1K half-marathon, 10K, 5K and 2K Kids Race distances.
A number of changes will be made ahead of the 2021 Beneva Quebec City Marathon to comply with public health requirements, including a whole new schedule and more staggered starts. “We’re doing everything we can to keep the heart and soul of the marathon running strong,” said Marianne Pelchat. “You’ll find all the races you know and love, everything from the Kids Race to the 5K, 10K, 21.1K half-marathon and the full 42.2K marathon.” Long-running Marathon partner SSQ Insurance recently joined forces with La Capitale. The name of the new entity formed by their mutual merger is Beneva – hence the new name for the flagship event: the Beneva Quebec City Marathon.
The fields for the Ras Al Khamimah Half Marathon continue to go from strength to strength with five-time world champion Geoffrey Kamworor and two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri added to the line-up on 19 February.
Kamworor won in Ras Al Khaimah in 2013 and is one of five former winners in the men’s line-up. He has won three world titles at the half marathon and two at cross country but been out of action for almost a year due to injury. His world half marathon record of 58:01, set in Copenhagen in September 2019, was broken in December by 2020 Ras Al Khaimah winner Kibiwott Kandie, who is also in the field for this year’s race. London marathon winner Shura Kitata, Ethiopian half marathon record-holder Jemal Yimer and 2019 Abu Dhabi Marathon champion Reuben Kiprop Kipyego are among the other new additions to the field.
Along with Kamworor and Kandie, three other former winners – including the joint course record-holders – are in the men’s line-up. 2019 champion Stephen Kiprop and two-time winner Bedan Karoki, who jointly hold the course record at 58:42, will return to Ras Al Khaimah alongside 2015 winner Mosinet Geremew.
They will take on Uganda’s world half marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo, who reduced his PB to 57:37 in Valencia in December, making him the second-fastest man in history for the distance.
Alexander Mutiso, who ran 57:59 in Valencia to move to fourth on the world all-time list, will also be in action in Ras Al Khaimah. Switzerland’s Julien Wanders, Norway’s Sondre Nordstadt Moen and Italian duo Yemaneberhan Crippa and Eyob Faniel complete the line-up.
Obiri, who won world titles at 5000m and cross country in 2019, will be making her half marathon debut. The Kenyan has limited road running experience, but her few outings to date have been promising; she clocked 29:59 for 10km on Madrid’s downhill course at the end of 2018.
World half marathon silver medallist Melat Kejeta of Germany and world marathon bronze medallist Helalia Johannes are the other recent top additions to the field, and they will face a formidable line-up of stars, as previously announced by the organisers.
World marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, who recently set a half marathon PB of 1:05:06, will make her Ras Al Khaimah debut. Peres Jepchirchir, who won the world half marathon title last October in a women-only world record of 1:05:16, will return to the scene of her 2017 triumph when she set a world record of 1:05:06. The three fastest women in history – world record-holder Ababel Yeshaneh, Ethiopia’s Yalemzerf Yehualaw and marathon world record-holder Brigid Kosgei – will also line up in Ras Al Khaimah.
Yeshaneh and Kosgei have clashed twice to date, both races resulting in world records. Their first duel came at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, which Kosgei won in a world record of 2:14:04 while Yeshaneh placed second in 2:20:51. Just four months later, Yeshaneh levelled the score by winning in Ras Al Khaimah in a world record of 1:04:31. Kosgei was runner-up in 1:04:49, the second-fastest time in history.
Yehualaw, meanwhile, finished third at the recent World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, just a few seconds behind Jepchirchir. Six weeks later, she won the New Delhi Half Marathon in 1:04:46, the second-fastest time in history.
USA’s Sara Hall, who placed second at this year’s London Marathon, and South Africa’s Gerda Steyn are also in the field.
The Race Results Weekly portal looked at how marathons that have been held at least 35 times in the past managed during the coronavirus crisis.
Focusing only on those marathons that took place on a single day (some organisers spread their races over several days – in Richmond, USA, to 15), we find only 12 of them were “saved” after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
97th Košice Peace Marathon
Sunday 4 October, Košice, SVK
Runners at the finish line: 156 men, 23 women
74th Fukuoka International Marathon
Sunday 6 December, Fukuoka, JPN
Runners at the finish line: 67 men, no women
Note: only elite runners who were residents of Japan.
51st Hofu Marathon
Sunday 20 December, Hofu, JPN
Runners at the finish line: 311 men, 38 women
49th Space Coast Marathon
Sunday 29 November, Cocoa, FL, USA
Runners at the finish line: 536
45th Omaha Marathon
Sunday 20 September, Omaha, NE, USA
Runners at the finish line: 299
42nd Istanbul Marathon
Sunday 8 November, Istanbul, TUR
Runners at the finish line: 1475 + 15 elite
40th Maratón Valencia Trinidad Alfonso edp
Sunday 6 December, Valencia, ESP
Runners at the finish line: 87 men, 47 women
Note: 41 men and 20 women met the limit for the coming Tokyo Olympics.
40th Virgin Money London Marathon
Sunday 4 October, London, GBR
Runners at the finish line: 29 elite men,18 women
Note: Organizers further sold 45,000 bib numbers for a virtual marathon.
39th Galaxy Entertainment Macau International Marathon
Sunday 6 December, Macau, MAC
Runners at the finish line: 652 men, 89 women
38th Swiss Alpine Marathon
Sunday 26 July, Davos, SUI
Runners at the finish line: 307 men, 111 women
38th Wizz Air Sofia Marathon
Sunday 11 November, Sofia, BUL
Runners at the finish line: 314 men, 71 women
Sunday, 1 November, Venice, ITA
Runners at the finish line: 3
Note: Only a symbolic run; Eleonora Corradini, Gabriele Gallo and wheelchair racer Alberto Buccoliero.
On the afternoon of Wednesday 28 October 1931 the starter’s gun sounded out in Košice as the runners set off in the 8th edition of the race, which at that time was called the Slovak International Marathon.
No one knew that it would turn out to be one of the most memorable years in the race’s history, thanks to Juan Carlos Zabala, a young Argentinian barely 20 years old. His participation had been arranged in a Vienna hotel by Zabala’s Austrian coach (with Czech roots) Alexander Stirling and Vojtech Bukovský, the founder of the Košice marathon.
Clearly convinced by Zabala’s world record in the 30km run in Vienna on 10 October, Bukovský urged the South American to start in Kosice and did well to convince him. Not only had Zabala never run a marathon before but the cold, inclement weather made him shake like a leaf before the start. The temperature never reached even 6ºC that day. But Zabala surprised everyone. He settled into a fast pace, shed his opponent and knocked nearly 10 minutes off the course record with a time of 2:33:19 – a record that endured for 19 years until the victory of the Swede Leandersson in 1950.
Doubters called on the organisers to learn to keep time better. Zabala shut them up himself when he won the gold medal in Los Angeles the following August in a new Olympic record of 2:31:36.
It was said to have been so foggy that the referees in places wondered whether Zabala had got lost, as they could not believe that he could run so fast. Hurrying from the course to the finish line, they reached him by car perhaps 200m before the finishing tape. Zabala’s stay in Košice, where he tried to break the world record in the one-hour run in a hastily organised race on 8 November, testifies to a calmer pace of life in those times. He didn’t manage it but he remained permanently in the hearts of the people of Košice.
The Gulf Bank 642 Marathon (KUW) will take place on Sat 13 February 2021, not Sat 6 February 2021 as previously published.
Liane Winter, who has died aged 78, shaped the marathon in Germany in the 1970s.
In 1974 she set national marathon records in Wolfsburg and Waldniel and later became German Marathon champion in 1979. She was trained by the “running doctor” Ernst van Aaken (Waldniel) who was instrumental in advancing the cause of women’s marathon running in the 1970s.
Liane Winter competed in a total of 50 marathons, the last one at the age of 50 in 1991. She contracted multiple sclerosis in the 1990s which later made walking impossible and forced her to use a wheelchair. She was active in handbiking events for many years and started several times in the handbike division of the Berlin Marathon.
Tom Derderian writes in his book “Boston Marathon” that in 1975 Liane Winter took the lead from the start, ahead of the later runner-up Katherine Switzer. Neither saw each other in this race. Switzer wanted to win Boston after she had entered the 1967 race against the rule that the race was not open to women. In the following years she could officially place herself on the podium, but never managed to win. Winter finished almost 10 minutes ahead of her in the 1975 race with 2:43:24 to 2:51:37.
The women had a hard time in the conservative Boston Marathon. Organisers treated the women entirely differently to the men. Fellow German runner Charlotte Teske won Boston in 1982 but the situation for women had still not changed: Teske received a grandfather clock as an honorary award (now in the Sports Museum in Berlin), and had to pay for the flight, hotel and food herself. It was not until 1983 that ‘tradition’ changed for women in Boston.
Winter only received the gold medal for her historic 1975 victory two decades later as a guest of honour at the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon in 1996.
The 2nd edition of the Hoka Project Carbon X2 over 100 km on a circuit in Chandler (Arizona, USA) ended with a dramatic finale as Jim Walmsley (USA) missed the current world record of 6:09:14 set by Nao Kazami (JPN) in 2018 by just 12 seconds. Audrey Tanguy (FRA) was the fastest among women in 7:40:32.
With temperatures around 15°C and an unusually high dew point of 7°C, conditions for an endurance event were again very good, apart from a refreshing wind in the Arizona desert. On a 11.11km-long circuit in the south of Phoenix where the “Marathon Project” was run in December 2020, the top group of men was on world record pace from the start. Together with four pacemakers, some of whom supported the leaders as far as 50km, a lead group of five included the favourite Walmsley, who set this record two years ago in the first edition of this event.
The (first) marathon was completed in about 2:34 and the half-distance reached after 3:04:14 when the last remaining pacer withdrew. Shortly afterwards Walmsley broke away from his two remaining fellow compatriots Craig Hunt (USA) and Hayden Hawks (USA). In a moment of high drama Walmsley cut his left shoulder on a screw protruding from a fence while lapping some women and began to bleed profusely. However, he managed to largely stop the bleeding and continue the race. At 60 km Walmsley was still on course for the record, 10 seconds ahead of Hunt and 90 seconds ahead of Hawks. His 75 km split of 4:35:05 projected to a finish time of 6:06:47 and his lead over Hunt had grown to over 5 minutes. Walmsley was still on for a record with a time of 6:08:04 at 90km. Then another, perhaps decisive, mishap occurred when the 95km split was called as 5:49:54, 25 seconds less than it should have been. He had to cover the last 5km in 18:50 and in the end he lacked the strength to do so. On the long home straight the clock ticked down relentlessly and passed the existing record time just 12 seconds before Walmsley crossed the line.
Walmsley pulverised Max King’s 2014 national record of 6:27:43. At the US Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2020 Walmsley had run his first serious marathon in 2:15:05.
In an eventful women’s race Audrey Tanguy (FRA) worked her way through the entire field and ultimately won in 7:40:36. Second place went to Nicole Monette (GBR) in 7:43:18.
The worst case scenario for the Tokyo Olympics – cancellation – has become more than just a possibility. Kansai University professor emeritus Katsuhiro Miyamoto, 76, has estimated that cancellation would result in an economic loss of over 43.5 billion USD (35.8bn EUR).
The one-year postponement from last year has already inflicted a 46.2 billion USD loss. Apart from further postponing or cancelling the Games there is also the option of staging the Olympics without spectators.
Government sources say that another postponement is not a realistic option. Tokyo has projected a direct economic effect of over 49.4 billion USD in building and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure to put on the Games. Professor Miyamoto estimates that the loss of revenue from operating expenses, participants’ consumption, domestic consumption and the like that would follow a cancellation of the Olympics would result in a loss of just under 33.4 billion USD.
Another 10.1 billion USD would disappear through losing the legacy effect of post-Olympic facility usage, education and urban development, bringing the total loss from a complete cancelation to over 43.5 billion USD or about 1% of Japan’s GDP. This would be roughly equivalent to the 40.5 billion USD spent at all department stores nationwide last year. “On top of the coronavirus, cancellation would be another serious hit to the economy,” commented Professor Miyamoto.
If the Games do go ahead, they face a rough road. In a downsized version it would be highly likely that events would be closed to spectators. According to preliminary calculations, halving the number of spectators and cutting back the opening and closing ceremonies would still result in a loss of almost 13.4 billion USD. Staging it without any spectators would bring the loss to over 23.3 billion USD. “The Olympics should go ahead even without spectators, but how other countries hit hard by the coronavirus would be able to deal with the situation remains unclear,” said Professor Miyamoto. “If the International Olympic Committee made the decision to cancel the Games, the economic and political fallout would be extremely severe.”
In preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, 42 venues in nine prefectures have almost been completed along with investment in accommodations, road improvement and other infrastructure by local governments. “80% of the economic spillover occurs prior to the Games,” commented Professor Miyamoto. A private research institute in the UK claimed that the 2012 London Olympics resulted in an economic spillover effect of around 19.3 bilion USD with 82% of the effect coming before the Games opened.
If the Tokyo Olympics were cancelled, the value of properties such as the main stadium built for the Games would be significantly reduced by not being able to apply the “Olympic” brand name to them. There is concern about additional losses to the financial burden of maintaining them under those circumstances. “The investment in preparations has already been made and they are all but completed,” said Professor Miyamoto. “If the Olympics were cancelled it would have a tremendous impact on consumer sentiment, and the value of the Olympic Village and other facilities would be significantly reduced.”
The SwissCityMarathon – Lucerne team are optimistic that by autumn running will have reverted to being a shared experience – and will guarantee your entry fee for the race on 31 October.
Should the pandemic force cancellation the organisers offer a transfer to the 2022 race or a refund (less a CHF10 (9.92EUR/11.30 USD) processing fee).
Meanwhile the RUN365 running track with permanent timing installed has been in operation on the Rotsee since 1 January. You can tackle the 6.4km route daily using the measuring points at the rowing centre or after the Seehüsli restaurant.
At the moment the Olympic Games are still the big target for elite distance runners this year – but there have been very few marathons held in the last year.
All but a handful of the usual big-city races that make up the competitive calendar have disappeared with no clear prospect of when they will become possible again. With this in mind Swiss Athletics has reverted to the old model of a federation-organised national marathon trial which they plan to hold in Belp on 14 March. The course will be the same as that used for the Swiss championships over 10km and the half marathon last autumn.
Some of the best Swiss endurance specialists have announced their participation including the already-qualified Tadesse Abraham. Qualifying times for Tokyo (or Sapporo, where the Marathons will be run) are 2:11:30 for men and 2:29:30 for women.
The race will be held with anti-covid precautions in place and starting places limited to 50. There are numerous foreign runners on the start list as well as the Swiss elite, which should enhance the competition.
The Osaka International Women’s Marathon on 31 January will be run on a multi-lap loop course inside Nagai Park.
Some of the athletes scheduled to run were notified last week of the likely change from Osaka’s traditional road course, due to the continued spread of the coronavirus and the declaration of a state of emergency by the Government. It is the first time the race will be run on a circuit course since the inaugural race in 1982.
The impact of the change on times run there remains unclear. Osaka organisers have recruited male pacers, a first for a domestic women’s marathon, to help chase the record.
Most road races over the last year have been cancelled or postponed. Osaka organisers cut their field back to just 99 athletes, about a fifth the usual number. Despite calls for the people to stay home and watch the race on TV it was inevitable that some would turn up along the course. The logistics of the race’s usual format also required a large number of operations staff for traffic control and drink stations. Many of those tend to be vulnerable elderly people. The change to a circuit course significantly reduces the number of people needed, mitigating the risk of spreading the virus.
Over the last few months a number of other races have been held inside parks instead of on public roads. October’s Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai half marathon was held on an officially-certified 2.6 km circuit course around the runway at Tokyo’s Tachikawa SDF Airbase, with 46 university teams taking part. November’s East Japan Corporate Men’s Ekiden likewise took place inside a park in Kumagaya, Saitama, with 24 teams covering a total of 76.4 km on a 4.2 km loop. Amateur races have been held using loop courses along riverbanks. Overseas, October’s London Marathon was held on a 2135m loop.
Osaka’s traditional course was certified by both the JAAF and World Athletics, but it remains to be seen what the status of the new course will be. Consisting of 15 laps of a flat 2.8 km loop followed by a track finish inside Yanmar Stadium Nagai, the prospects of running a fast time look good but first the new course must be officially certified. With just half a year left until the Tokyo Olympics this will likely be the last pre-Olympic marathon for the top women both the race is not a good simulation of racing conditions in Sapporo.
In honour of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Shekh Mujib’s centennial birth celebration, the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Dhaka Marathon 2021 marked the occasion and helped to promote Dhaka City’s cultural heritage.
The race also aims to promote a health among Bangladesh citizens, as well as to involve the country’s youth in promoting sports and a healthy lifestyle.
The event was held as part of the 100th Anniversary Celebration and organised by the Bangladesh Army, in partnership with the Army Sports Control Board, Sports Vision Ltd, and Trust Innovation Ltd along with technical partner the Bangladesh Athletics Federation and the Bangladesh Olympic Association.
The races were held in Dhaka on 10 January at 06:30, starting from the Army Stadium and finishing in Hatirjheel..Both Marathon and Half Marathon distances were contested by approximately 100 runners including elite athletes from home and abroad. Runners from all over the world are offered the opportunity to access the event through the official digital marathon app where participants can register through the website dhakamarathon.com.bd , and take part in this historical event at any time from 10 January until 7 March.
Marathon winners were Hicham Laqouahi (MAR) in 2:10:41 and Angela Jemesunde Tanui (KEN) in 2:29:04.
The IAU 24 hours World Championship, originally scheduled to take place on 22–23 May in Timisoara (ROU), has been postponed to 2–3 October by joint agreement with the LOC.
The decision to delay the event has been made to make sure that participants from all regions have a fair chance to take part. Alternative dates are limited due to the existing IAU calendar and the ever evolving situation with COVID-19. As of now, there are restrictions on travel inside and to/from Europe.
Public activities are limited in Romania and this brings additional complexity to the preparation for the LOC. There will be a separate announcement about the IAU Congress which would have been held in May at the 24H World Championships.
The LOC is considering changing the venue of the Championship to Bucharest, due to better direct travel connections.
Further information will be made available as soon as possible.
The racing season in the Czech Republic usually starts with the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon in March but this year, because of lingering safety issues, it is postponed until 5 September 2021.
That weekend will be made into a Running Festival called “The Running Games”. In addition to the Half Marathon there will be 5 km and 10 km races. Further information to follow.
The Volkswagen Prague Marathon and other spring races,will be assigned a date on the full 2021 running calendar soon, which will be available from the middle of February.
In a quick survey conducted by German Road Races (GRR) at the end of 2020 it was found that about 75% of all runs were cancelled last year and only about 24,000 runners started in real races. The lack of opportunity for larger participation is mainly attributed to the hygiene regulations of the federal states and municipalities.
The number of participants was mentioned as a particular restriction along with the need to extend the start phase into smaller waves or starting blocks. Other restrictions included responsibility for preventing spectators gathering at the start and finish area and the need to deploy many more race officials to manage the changed starting protocols.
Reasons for a cancelled or prohibited event included the ban on major events, the hygiene and distancing requirements that could not be implemented, the expense of meeting the requirements and the health risk to active people and volunteer staff.
More than two thirds of the organisers surveyed did not apply for any help from a state or municipal body, not least because none of the aid programs offered were suitable for them. Among claims made the most significant were for the short-time working allowance (13%), the emergency aid for small businesses and self-employed persons (9%), the bridging aid (5%) and aid from the respective state sports associations (8%).
The organisers did not apply for liquidity assistance from the Landesbanken. Of those organisers who applied for help 91% of applications were successful.
Organisers are willing to start again this year with the previous concepts or changed protocols: “Of course we are looking at the development of the pandemic in the first few months of this year with great concern. The quick poll shows us very clearly that many running events are at maximum risk if we cannot return to a certain normality shortly,” says GRR Chairman Horst Milde (Berlin).
“Running events cannot cope with [such] a persistent drought, especially since races held in 2020 races were largely self-funded.”
For more about the survey see: www.germanroadraces.de .
The Almaty Half Marathon (KAZ) will take place on Sun 17 October 2021, not Sun 11 April 2021 as previously published.
Despite the pending declaration of a state of emergency in the greater Osaka area the organisers of the 31 January Osaka International Women’s Marathon intend to go ahead with this year’s race.
Last year the Japanese athletics federation published strict guidelines for the staging of road races during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the requirements is that no declaration of a state of emergency be in place. On 7 January the government issued such a declaration for Tokyo and its three surrounding prefectures. Osaka and neighbouring Kyoto and Hyogo have asked to be added to that list.
If the terms of the state of emergency are the same as the earlier one for the Tokyo area, it would last until at least 7 February. This would put the Osaka International Women’s Marathon inside the emergency period, but race organisers insist it would still be held. The declaration would limit the number of people able to attend events, but in principle it would still be possible to stage sporting events. Osaka organisers have already announced that Nagai Stadium, the marathon’s start and finish point, will not be open to the public and have asked that people watch on TV rather than cheer on the course. Fewer than 100 athletes are entered and all will be required to present a negative PCR test in order to participate.
Swiss Running is initiating an innovative new concept in Lucerne on the Rotsee.
From 1 January RUN365 will offer runners a fixed route with time measurement. Participants can complete alone and independently of time or compete ‘virtually’ on an online ranking list. It starts with a pilot phase with runners, unlike in virtual races, completing the same official route so that times are comparable. Once in possession of the timing chip, the route can be completed daily.
The Rotsee offers rich wildlife – beavers and many species of birds – but is also valued by joggers as a popular training route. Beautiful riverside paths and the view of the Pilatus make for a refreshing run. The idyllic route measures 6.4 km. Two measuring points in Lucerne – at the Rotsee rowing centre and shortly after the Seehüsli restaurant – are defined as the start and finish for the Rotsee circuit.
Participation is possible via smartphone or with a timing chip. Timing is in operation between 05.00–22.00. Times of all participants will be published in the online ranking list.
Lower Saxony’s largest running spectacle, planned for 17–18 April, will fall victim to the current pandemic situation, as it did last year. The next HAJ Hannover Marathon will be held on 3 April 2022.
“We planned a number of scenarios and possibilities to implement a responsible marathon in an adapted form,” explained organiser Stefanie Eichel. “But the current infection situation makes this absolutely impossible.”
A final decision has not yet been made on a possible elite-only race over the marathon distance for the German Marathon Championships, which were planned for April in Hannover. “We are currently in talks with the German Athletics Association and our athlete manager Christoph Kopp to give the athletes a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” said Eichel.
In the previous year, almost 30,000 active participants had already registered for the various competitions as part of the 30th HAJ Hanover Marathon, which will now have to celebrate its milestone event next year.
But there is still a small glimmer of hope for autumn: “If a running event with a good number of participants can be implemented responsibly, we will hopefully be able to give the starting signal for a really nice new running experience,” promises Eichel. “The plans for this are already on the table.”
The only witnesses to the occasion were Turňa Castle, gnawed away by time, and one lone tree standing below it.
Five hundred metres beyond Turňa village, beneath this tree and beside the high road, the photographer focused on eight runners and a handful of other figures. They had all become obsessed with the idea of transforming a marathon dream into reality.
A trio of East Slovakian sports officials had returned from Paris to Košice with this dream in 1924. For it was on one hot summer’s day in the Colombes Stadium at the eighth Olympic Games that they became gripped by this most noble of all athletic disciplines.
Those men, who remain to this day captured on that wonderful old yellowed photograph in their vests and shorts had a true baptism of fire awaiting them – even though it was 28 October and late in the year. It was a trial of as yet untested strengths and abilities. Ahead of them stretched more than 42 kilometres of road through the countryside all the way back to Košice.
Halla, Tronka, Badonič and Kulcsár from the local Košice Athletics Club, Schuller from Slávia and the valiant soldiers Lenart, Zajič and Schmidt. There were no famous Olympic runners there that day, for it was only later on that they became charmed by the atmosphere of the Košice Marathon.
In the propositions issued for this race by the Czechoslovak Amateur Athletic Union and published in the local newspaper Kassai Napló, it was declared that the first across the finishing line would receive the title of ‘Winner of the Slovakian Marathon’ together with an honorary prize and a certificate.
The crack of the starter’s pistol cut through the cold autumn air exactly twenty minutes after midday, and these eight marathon pioneers ran off on their adventure.
At Čečejovce Halla had already built up a 300m lead and the spectators welcomed him with applause, but when the Tatra limousine came through with the members of the jury who were ensuring the race rules were being kept, sarcastic comments rang out: “Why aren’t you running, you lot? Sitting in a car – anyone can do that!”
By the turn-off to Malá Ida cyclists were already waiting for the runners so that they could accompany them and race on ahead to announce their imminent approach to the Košice crowds. A large number of onlookers were lining both sides of Komenský Street, while others had occupied the best places they could find on the wooden grandstand of the sports-ground at the area then called Gajdove kúpele (“Gajda Spa”).
The crowds roared a joyful welcome to the be-whiskered and fresh-looking Halla. A garland of laurel rested on his shoulders, the military band played a march, and in recognition of his victory the sky thundered with several salvoes of gunfire. It was Tuesday, 28 October 1924, a little before half past three in the afternoon.
Many years later, on the marble plinth beneath the sculpture of the marathon runner in the little park in front of the East Slovakian Museum, there appeared the name of the first hero of the Košice Marathon – Karol Halla.
At the celebration dinner following the race the organizers praised Halla’s conscientious and thorough preparation. They set their minds not only on holding a marathon in Košice every year, but also on making sure that each time there would be international participation.
The main ideas were presented by Vojtech Braun Bukovský. It was as if he had sensed back there in Paris that he would give up a good part of his life to the Marathon. He was not yet 30 years old when he congratulated Halla, but he already had vital experience in athletics, university studies, and work in his family’s retail business. The variety of his activities was remarkable. Apart from the Marathon he is recorded as being a tireless organiser of cycle races, fencing, skiing and wrestling competitions, as well as being a journalist.
The wholesale cancellation of mass marathon in Japan for the last few months appears to have piqued the appetite of the Japanese public to watch distance running events on TV.
To help reduce crowding along the course, as part of the effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, organisers of the flagship Hakone Ekiden encouraged people to “cheer from home.” This is thought to have resulted in more people than usual watching the TV broadcast.
Nippon TV’s two-day coverage recorded average ratings of 31.0% for the first day’s broadcast from 07:00–14.05 on 2 January and 33.7% for the second day from 07.00–14.18 on 3 January. Equivalent figures last year were 27.5% and 28.6%. The two-day average of 32.3% for the broadcast was the highest recorded since ratings were first monitored in 1987. The second day’s peak instantaneous viewership rating reached 41.8%.
According to Video Research’s measurements, nationwide a total of roughly 64.71 million people tuned in for some part of the two-day broadcast, approximately half the national population. Viewers 4 years or older who tuned in for at least one minute were counted in the estimate.
Marine Corps Marathon has bucked the trend by adding a new event to their race calendar at a time when most of the established races are being side-lined.
The Quantico Crucible 5km on Saturday 17 April is an in-person event in which participants aged 10+ run the distance while besting three on-course challenges and then complete high intensity fitness drills. The name and format of the event are a bow to a US Marine’s final challenge in recruit training, “The Crucible”, a 54-hour training exercise where recruits are broken down into squads before facing tasks that test their physical strength, skills and the values they learned throughout training. Only those who make it through this challenge are handed their Eagle, Globe and Anchors, symbolising the completion of the gruelling journey to earn the coveted title of U.S. Marine.
The Crucible 5km will take place in the early evening at Marine Corps Base Quantico. Each runner will receive a keepsake 8-pound (3.6kg) sandbag to be used while completing some of the physical challenges. The sandbags will feature the official event logo inspired by the gold stripes on red flash as seen in the rank insignia worn on Marine uniforms.
Registration opens on 6 January at www.marinemarathon.com. For USD 40 participants receive the official event shirt, bib and a finisher medal. Participants will be divided into small groups and runners may select from multiple start times beginning at 17.00.
After the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo were postponed for a year they are now slated for 23 July – 8 August 2021.
“We will host the games this summer in a safe way,” said Prime Minister Suga on New Year’s Day, despite the increasing number of corona infections recorded in Tokyo recently – which have exceeded 1000 in one day for the first time.
Games organisers had previously announced that the Olympic torch relay would begin on 25 March. Around 10,000 athletes will carry the Olympic flame across the country. The flame had already arrived in Tokyo from Greece in March 2020 but shortly before the planned start of the torch relay the Games for 2020 were cancelled. The flame is presently in a lantern in Tokyo. The torch relay is due to start in Fukushima, the centre of the tsunami disaster 10 years ago.
At the 9th World Congress of AIMS, held in Macau on 6-7 December 1994, AIMS announced that the AIMS Marathon-Museum of Running would be established at the Sportmuseum Berlin.
26 years have passed since then. The Museum – now called the Marathoneum – has expanded greatly and a review of its development was long overdue. For this reason ‘Document No. 5’ has been put together by Horst MIlde, Gerd Steins and the Marathoneum team to reflect back on the history of AIMS and distance running.