26 May 2014
The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) will be hosting about 200 delegates from around the world at the 20th World Congress of AIMS (the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) in Durban this week.
The delegates will represent several of the greatest marathons and distance races in the world at the forthcoming gathering, which runs from 29 to 31 May, ahead of the 89th Comrades Marathon, an “up” run, from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, which takes place on 1 June.
Cheryl Winn, the 20th World Congress of AIMS Chairperson, said in a statement on Friday: “We are excited about hosting the Congress. This will be a first for our country and the continent; and with a very relevant theme for the Congress being: Africa – Home of Distance Runners.
The congress includes delegates from every continent, with a total of 41 countries represented.
Promoting and uplifting
From Athens, Berlin, Beijing and Boston to Canberra, Cape Town, Casablanca and Colombo, top international marathons will be participating in the forum, which is aimed at facilitating the exchange of information, knowledge, expertise, ideas and innovations to improve the quality of member events and generally promote and uplift the staging of marathons and the sport of road running around the globe.
Relatively short races, such as The World’s Best 10km in Puerto Rico and Morocco’s 10km Marrakech International, will be represented, as well as an ultra-distance race like the Lake Saroma 100km in Japan, which together with the Comrades Marathon and Two Oceans make up the only three ultra-marathons attending the Congress.
Participation in the Congress is limited to bona fide representatives of AIMS-affiliated events, but as the host organisers, the CMA has been given special dispensation to invite a select number of non-AIMS affiliated races to attend as observers. They have thus extended invitations to the Soweto, City to City, Loskop, Om die Dam, Knysna and Zululand Marathons, with a view to them being exposed to the benefits of joining AIMS in the future.
AIMS-affiliated South African road running races which will be represented include the Two Oceans, Peninsula, Cape Town, Maritzburg and Mandela Day Marathons.
Among the dignitaries welcoming the AIMS delegates will be the Premier of KwaZulu- Natal, Senzo Mchunu, who will officially open the Congress on Thursday, 29 May, while the Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela will host the AIMS Board at a Mayoral Dinner on Tuesday, 27 May.
The eThekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo, will welcome all delegates at a Civic Welcome Function on Wednesday, 28 May, and the MEC for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation, Ntombikayise Sibidhla-Saphethe will give the keynote address at the Legends Gala Dinner on Friday, 30 May.