A Better Race Experience

Athletics Canada and race directors aim to set national standards

Athletics Canada

Organizers of major road races are coming together with running’s national athletic association to develop standards for safe, well-organized and technically sound events that offer runners a great experience.

Representatives from 20 races, including major marathons in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria, discussed national standards for race organizations at the Athletics Canada Road Running Summit in May in Calgary.

“As race directors, I think we owe it to the running community to set standards of excellence and constantly strive to meet and exceed them,” says Alan Brookes, director of the Canada Running Series, which organizes the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and Eastside 10K in Vancouver among others. “The reputation of our events and of our sport is at stake and if runners stumble into badly organized run experiences they will share with their friends and they may never come back.”

The scope of the standards discussed covered risk management, including emergency planning, participant safety, medical plans and insurance; issues such as course measurement, aid stations, officiating and results; and topics such as guidelines for youth participation, fundraising, volunteers, waste management and media relations.

Run Ottawa chief John Halvorsen has seen attempts like this before, but he’s confident this time the job will get done.

“The running community, primarily the race organizers, must come together and demand that our provincial and national athletics bodies move this forward. This is why the increased emphasis Athletics Canada has placed on road running with the Race Directors Summit is so important. It gives us —the events — a voice into the athletic community to say what reasonable standards are that we mostly all follow.”

Athletics Canada hopes to have a standards pilot project in place for 2016.