Runners in action at the Beijing Marathon (© Getty Images)
The economic, social and environmental impact of road races will be among the key themes discussed at the IAAF Global Running Conference China 2019, set for 31 May-1 June in Lanzhou.
More than 600 attendees, representing much of the international road race industry, are expected to attend the two-day event, which will focus on the positive impacts of road racing on urban settings. Delegates will represent 100 IAAF label races from around the world while nearly 300 attendees will be representing other road races in China, the world’s fastest growing market for recreational running.
Divided into three sessions, the conference programme will consist of a full slate of presentations and panel discussions highlighting the benefits that road races bring to their host cities while also addressing some of the inherent challenges. Some of the topics presenters will discuss include:
• the growth of the marathon tourism industry
• how to create running cultures in cities
• the economic benefits of organising events, and
• best practices for organising events in environmentally sustainable ways
The opening address will be delivered by Jens Jakob Andersen, founder and CEO of RunRepeat.com, who will present a report on the current global state of running, drawn largely from his recent research comparing marathon performances across nations. The study by Andersen and his team is the largest of its kind ever produced.
The conference will be held during the lead-in to the ninth edition of the Lanzhou Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label event, which takes place in this northwestern Chinese city on Sunday 2 June. More than 40,000 runners are expected to compete across all distances. Located along the banks of the Yellow River, this city of three million was a major link on the Northern Silk Road that connected the ancient capital of Xi'an to Persia and Rome, and is now celebrated as the cultural centre of Gansu Province for its ethnic and religious diversity.
The Vice President of the Chinese Athletics Association, Ms Wang Nan, said: ”Marathon running has boomed in China lately. In 2018, there have been a total of 14 IAAF Label road races: 8 Gold Label, 4 Silver Label and 2 Bronze Label, which means that China now has the most Gold Label races of any country in the world. The IAAF Running Conference China 2019 is regarded as an opportunity for deeper communication of both Chinese knowledge and international concepts. It not only brings the spotlight to Lanzhou, but it also creates more chances for collaboration between Chinese marathons and the global road running industry.”
China has witnessed explosive growth in road running over the past decade, in terms of both the number of events organised and the number of people taking part. In 2017, 1100 sanctioned road running races were held in China compared to just 22 in 2011. During that same period, participation grew from 400,000 runners to more than five million.
The conference will be co-organised by the Chinese Athletics Association, the Lanzhou Municipal People’s Government and the IAAF.