Press Release10 May 2019

Penn Relays and Hakone Ekiden head World Athletics Heritage Plaque announcements at IAAF World Relays in Yokohama


Hakone Ekiden (© Monthly Athletics Magazine Japan / Getsuriku)

IAAF President Sebastian Coe announced 11 new locations for the IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque at tonight’s IAAF / LOC Dinner on the eve of the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019.

The new locations in the categories of ‘Competition’ and ‘Landmark’ are spread across the IAAF’s six continental areas.

Click here: Announcement Video

'Permanent reminders of outstanding historic athletic achievement'

“The eleven recipients we honour tonight have each made an enormous impact in the historical development of the sport of athletics in their countries and beyond,” said Sebastian Coe. “We launched this new award last December and a public competition has since designed the plaque. Next year we will begin to unveil the plaques, permanent reminders of outstanding historic athletic achievement, in prominent locations around the world.”

Appropriately, given the reason for the dinner, two of the 11 plaques awarded were to relay events. The Penn Relays (USA), established in 1895, is the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States, while the Hakone Ekiden (JPN) founded in 1920, is the world’s oldest ekiden marathon relay.

Ethiopian and Kenyan ‘Landmarks’

While nine of the locations announced were in the category of ‘Competition’, for the first time Coe announced recipients in the category of ‘Landmark’. Two famous centres of distance running in Africa were honoured. These were the Ethiopian town of Bekoji, ‘Town of Runners’, and Iten in Kenya, the ‘Home of Champions’.

Sao Paulo’s double honour

Hakone was not the only road race honoured, with the Seoul Marathon, Korea (founded 1931), the third oldest road race in Asia, and the Saint Silvester São Paulo, Brazil (founded 1925), the world’s most famous New Year’s race, also recognised. São Paulo becomes the first city to receive two plaques following last December’s award to the Centro Esportivo e de Lazer Tietê in the city thanks to its association with the double Olympic champion Adhemar da Silva.

Combined events excellence

The world’s leading combined events meetings, Décastar Talence, France (founded 1976) and Hypo Meeting Götzis, Austria (founded 1975), were similarly recognised for their extraordinary contribution to and unique place in the development and promotion of the heptathlon and decathlon events.

Historic handicap race and two European invitational meets

Three track and field meetings were also recognised. The oldest was the Stawell Gift, Victoria, Australia (founded 1878) which includes one of the world’s most historic foot races – a 120-metre race run on grass, with runners handicapped according to form.

The Internationales Stadionfest (ISTAF) in Berlin, Germany, established in 1921, is the world’s oldest invitational one-day meeting, and the Weltklasse Zürich (founded 1928), known originally as the ‘Nurmi’ meeting and more recently dubbed the ‘Olympics in one day’, were honoured from their contribution to world track and field history.

IAAF World Athletics Heritage Plaque

The Plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics careers, cities, competitions, culture, landmarks, performances and venues around the world.

A uniquely designed plaque will be permanently and publicly displayed at a location closely associated with each recipient.

The Plaque is awarded for an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of the sport of track & field and of out-of-stadia athletics.

List of Plaques

Location of Plaques (when unveiled in 2020)