Marathoners and race walkers at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 are set to compete in the heart of Budapest as the routes have been revealed. The marathoners will complete the classic distance on a 10km course, running through the most beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage parts of Budapest. The start-finish area will be in Heroes' Square, also for the 20km and 35km race walk events. The six road races will be free for everyone to watch.
Budapest has become a trusted host for mass running events over the last decades. The Budapest Marathon, the Budapest Half Marathon and the Vivicittá City Run attract nearly 100,000 people every year. Everyday heroes from all over the world come to these events, who, as well as overcoming their own limits, can admire the fabulous city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along the way.
It will be no different at the biggest sporting event in Hungary's history, the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, where superheroes will take centre stage. On the closing weekend of the World Championships, the world's best women's marathon athletes will take to the streets of Budapest on Saturday 26 August, followed a day later by the men's race.
"We have found a really good route for marathoners. From the beginning we considered about 30 possible options. There were and are many possibilities in this city as to how to draw a route for a marathon. In the end, we chose this 10-kilometre course, which will be completed by the world's best in four laps in August," said Éva Petrik, competition director of the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, former Hungarian champion marathoner.
The start and finish area will be at Heroes' Square, from where a fast, straight section awaits the competitors along Andrássy Avenue. The only minor climb will be up the recently renovated Chain Bridge, first opened in 1849. From here, the course sends the athletes under Buda Castle and through the tunnel, one of the curiosities of the route. The athletes then will return from Buda to Pest, bypassing the Buda Castle, running across the Chain Bridge again, and then head for Heroes' Square on Andrássy Avenue.
"It's a well-run course, where the best in the world will be able to deliver their top performance. Its world record potential is slim, not because it's not a fast course. But because the Berlin course, where the recent world records were set, is so good. It was also an important aspect to show as many beautiful parts of Budapest as possible," said the director.
The route has a buffer section on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky road behind the Basilica. This is the only 180-degree turn on the course, but as it is a seven-lane road, runners will be able to handle it with minimal speed loss.
Both the women's marathon on 26 August and the men's marathon on 27 August will start at 7am. The most important aspect in setting the start time of a marathon is what conditions can be expected in the later stages of the competition. The athletes experience the greatest stress after 30-35 kilometres, so during this period the temperature, wind and other weather conditions should be taken into account.
In terms of road closures, the early start is also an advantage. As the marathons will take place over the weekend, the earlier the race starts, the fewer people are disrupted in the city. In addition, as the world's best will be competing, there will be no need for the 6-7 hour closures experienced in traditional mass races.
Since the course bisects the city centre, it is recommended to use the subway: both the underground and metro 2 and 3 will operate without disruption during the race hours. The tram service on the Grand Boulevard will not stop either, but will be split into two sections at Oktogon. The public will be able to continue their journey by crossing the pedestrian bridge over the track. There will also be several designated pedestrian crossings from one side to the other at other locations.
There will be activities at the larger fan areas while waiting for the runners and large screens will also help to follow the events. In Heroes' Square the competition can be watched from the stands.
The race walking finals will follow a formula that has worked well in the last few world races: the men's and women's 20km races will be on a 1km circuit, the men's and women's 35km races will be on a 2km circuit. The start and finish will again be in Heroes' Square, and the course on Andrássy Avenue.
The men's 20km walk, starting at 8:50am on 19 August, will be the first event of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23. The women's 20km walk will start one day later, at 7:15am on 20 August. The women and men will tackle the 35km event at the same time on Thursday 24 August at 7am.