The sport of road racing has always had an arms-length relationship with the IAAF, the international governing body for the sport of track & field (athletics to the rest of the world outside the U.S). With the Marathon being the lone road event on the Olympic schedule, when we speak of the IAAF and its 212 national governing body members — like USA Track & Field in the United States — we speak mostly about track racing, jumping and throwing. Yes, there is a biennial World Half-Marathon Championship — coming to Copenhagen, Denmark on March 29th — but it is no exaggeration to say that the sport of road racing has been under-served by the IAAF and its members for a long, long time.
That reality hasn’t just been detrimental to the sport of road racing, it has hurt the IAAF as well. Since the vast majority of runners are not involved in making Olympic or World Championship teams, the tens of millions of recreational and non-elite runners around the world have rallied beneath the flags of independent local events, robbing the runners, the events, and their federation overseers of the marketing potential their huge aggregate numbers might have otherwise represented.
This past week the monarchs in Monaco unveiled World Running, a global website whose goal, according to its About Page, “is to bring the world of running together, with a global Ranking system, expert advice and the latest running news.”
At the heart of World Running is its global Rankings system through which runners of all abilities can virtually compete on a worldwide basis. The concept is simple; every time you finish a race, whether a local 5k or a World Marathon Major, you input your finishing time and event into World Running, and through a mathematical algorithm your global ranking is produced.
Designed by Realbuzz out of Great Britain, the site also promises expert training advice, training guides, nutritional tips, injury advice, as well as an extensive events calendar, charity fundraising listings and the latest running news.
Former London Marathon Race Director Dave Bedford, the current chairman of the IAAF Road Running Commission, has been “involved and supportive” of the concept. However, according to the one-time 10,000-meter world record holder, the original idea was suggested some 2 ½ years ago by IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel of France. I spoke with Bedford Saturday from his home in London. Continue reading