Start of the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships (© Jean Pierre Durand)
World Athletics will launch a new global event in 2023 – the World Athletics Road Running Championships – as part of calendar changes approved at the most recent Council meeting.
The Road Running Championships will encompass the existing World Athletics Half Marathon Championships, but will also feature the world 5km championships as a new event, and could potentially include other distances such as a road mile in the future.
It is also envisioned that mass races will be held alongside the elite championships to allow recreational runners to be part of a global festival of road running.
“Road running has become an increasingly significant part of our sport over the past 20 years and it deserves greater recognition within our World Athletics Series events,” World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon said.
“The growth in popularity of half marathons, including our own world championships, as well as community 5km events like Parkrun, indicates that there is a need for more high status road racing events. We also think this will be a commercially desirable concept for host cities, partners and broadcasters.
“With the establishment of the World Athletics Road Running Championships, the whole global community of recreational runners, which numbers in the millions, will be able to come together to celebrate their passion for putting foot to the road.”
The World Athletics Half Marathon Championships, to be held in Gdynia, Poland, on 17 October, will be the only WAS event to be held this year due to the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.
World Athletics will be calling for expressions of interest from cities to host the inaugural Road Running Championships in the near future.
World Cross Country
In another change to the global calendar, the World Athletics Cross Country Championships will move from the odd years to the even years in 2024 to align with the Olympic Games.
World Athletics announced at the end of July that it had proposed the inclusion of a cross country mixed team relay for 15 countries in the programme for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
The 2021 World Cross Country Championships, to be hosted by Bathurst in Australia, has already been postponed until early 2022, as a consequence of the international travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic.
The World Athletics Council will confirm Bathurst’s new date at its next meeting on 1-2 December, 2020.
“The pandemic forced our hand in moving Bathurst from 2021 to 2022 but ultimately, this will allow us to make a smooth transition to the even years for our future cross country championships, so we can build momentum towards, hopefully, the return of cross country to the Olympic Games,” Ridgeon said.
The host of the 2024 World Athletics Cross Country Championships has not yet been selected.