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Iaaf’s Challenge: Uniquely A Marathon And A Sprint!

Iaaf’s Challenge: Uniquely A Marathon And A Sprint!

Iaaf’s Challenge: Uniquely A Marathon And A Sprint!

The IAAF World Cross Country Championships Aarhus March ‘19 hit new heights in many ways, not least because it was the first time that an IAAF championship course crossed the roof of a museum!


The partnership between the IAAF and the Danish Local Organising Committee was a perfect match, with both committed to reinventing and revitalising one of the most traditional events on the athletics calendar.


The IAAF challenged the LOC to come up with a new concept for cross country, combining both traditional elements of what is arguably one of the world’s original extreme sports, with a modern approach that would appeal to new generations of fans- and they succeeded admirably.


The outcome was a course that was uniquely challenging for the athletes and fascinating for thousands of spectators and fans. Set in the grounds of the Moesgaard Museum, outside of Denmark’s second city, the course took best advantage of the local topography, featuring hills, mud, sand, a water hazard, a detour through a hospitality tent and a Viking gauntlet. It’s crowning glory was the climb up the steep (ten degrees) grassed roof of the Moesgard Museum and the descent to the finish line, which proved pivotal to every race outcome.


The event has been hailed as a landmark in the history of the sport. The IAAF Ambassador to the WXC19, triple world champion Lynn Jennings, said: "The natural elements of this course are as authentic as they should be. The hills. The undulations. Add in the extra elements of the mud and water, and it is truly the best and the toughest cross country course I've seen."


The IAAF first introduced a mass participation element to one of its global championships at the inaugural World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen in 2014 and this has become an integral part of that event in subsequent editions. At last year’s half marathon championships, some 16,000 recreational athletes test themselves against the same course as the world’s best runners in Valencia, Spain.


One lesson learned from this event is that we must do more to promote the opportunities we are now offering for recreational runners to run in the footsteps of our champions


Looking to the future IAAF Productions will provide the host broadcast to television rights-holders at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, from September 27-October 6, where it will focus on cutting-edge technical innovation to provide an unprecedented viewing experience for the sport’s global audience.


The IAAF conducts an Observer programme for prospective event hosts at its World Athletics Series events and those who attended in Aarhus were certainly inspired. Representatives of the next host of the World Cross Country Championships, Bathurst, Australia, left determined to meet the standard established in Denmark, and there has been increased international interest in bidding for future WXC editions.


This general surge in interest in cross country running comes at the perfect moment, as the IAAF is pushing for the return of the discipline to the Olympic programme in Paris in 2024, a century after it last appeared on the Games programme.  


The biggest lesson from Aarhus is that fortune favours the brave, and the IAAF intends to take that approach in planning for all of its future events.


To bid for one of our events,


Nicole Jeffery, Head of Communications, IAAF


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