AT A GLANCE / APRIL 2021

Tata Mumbai Marathon rescheduled

Flashback / pack of elite runners from the 2019 edition of Tata Mumbai Marathon (Photo: by arrangement)

The organizer of the Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) has informed that the event’s 2021 edition will require to be rescheduled.

In a statement dated April 17, 2021, Procam International said, “ the new date will be announced in due course after consultations with the Government of Maharashtra and relevant athletic bodies. ‘’

The race was set to take place on May 30, 2021. 

In a normal year, the event takes place in January.

India is currently in the grip of a second wave of COVID-19 infection. Among states, the case load is particularly high in Maharashtra; Mumbai is among badly hit cities.

The statement quoted Vivek Singh, Jt. MD., Procam International as saying, “ The Tata Mumbai Marathon has a special place in our hearts, and we thank everyone for making this iconic event a sporting phenomenon. As we navigate these challenging times, we want you to know that we are leaving no stone unturned to make the marathon possible this year. The Government of Maharashtra and our partners have been extremely supportive to ensure, that we have the best possible option, keeping in mind the safety and security for all involved.

“ By shifting our focus to a new date, we will continue to work closely with the state, national and international athletic bodies to identify a suitable date for the event, which is conducive to the safe conduct of the event for all stakeholders.”

According to it, the organizing team “ continues to remain motivated and committed to deliver the 2021 edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon, in its truest sense.’’ All related details such as registration date, race course, and the events around the race will follow suit once the rescheduled date is announced, the statement added.

Further details about Tata Mumbai Marathon 2021, a World Athletics Road Race Elite Label, will be available on the website of the event.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / MARCH 2021

2021 NDM / Srinu Bugatha at the finish line (Photo: courtesy NEB Sports)

2021 New Delhi Marathon / Srinu Bugatha, Sudha Singh win

Elite runners Srinu Bugatha and Sudha Singh won the men’s and women’s race respectively at the Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon (NDM) 2021 held on March 7, 2021. However, both runners fell short of the qualifying mark for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games.

Srinu finished the marathon in two hours, 14 minutes and 58 seconds, a personal best (PB) according to published news reports, that was however short of both the Olympic qualification mark of 2:11:30 and the national record of 2:12:00. Shivnath’s Singh’s national record in the marathon was set way back in May 1978; it continues to daunt the best of Indian marathon runners. “ The race was good. I tried to go below 2:12 but in the end my wish was denied,’’ Srinu said, when contacted.

Sunday’s performance was after just three full marathons in Srinu’s career to date. According to him, the first big marathon he participated in was the 2018 Mumbai Marathon; two years later he won in the Indian elite men’s segment at the 2020 edition of the event. Roughly two months after that victory, India slipped into the lockdown caused by COVID-19. In the second half of 2020, as lockdown commenced easing, a trickle of road races trimmed to suit pandemic protocols, began to appear. At the 2020 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM), held in November last year as an elites-only physical race, Srinu had finished second. Thereafter, he had focused on preparations for the 2021 NDM. On February 8, 2021, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) formally informed that the performance of athletes at 2021 NDM would be considered for selection / participation in the Tokyo Olympics “ provided they achieve the qualifying standard as fixed by World Athletics.’’ With a PB to his credit but Olympic qualification not had at 2021 NDM, Srinu now plans to run at least one more race overseas for another shot at the task. He has time till end-May to qualify.

2021 NDM / Sudha Singh at the finish line (Photo: courtesy NEB Sports)

From among elite women at 2021 NDM, Sudha Singh (2:43:41) secured the first place. But her timing was short of the Olympic qualifying mark for women – 2:29:30 as well as the national record of 2:34:43 set by O.P. Jaisha in August 2015. At 2021 NDM, second position in the elite men’s category went to Nitendra Singh Rawat (2:18:54); Rashpal Singh (2:18:56) finished third. In the elite women’s segment, second place was secured by Jyoti Gawate (2:58:22) while Jigmet Dolma (3:04:51) placed third. “ My training was inadequate because of the pandemic and lockdown. After the 30 kilometer-mark, I started to feel tired,” Jyoti who hails Parbani in Maharashtra, said when contacted. Her next race is the 2021 Tata Mumbai Marathon, slated for end-May. Jigmet, who is from Ladakh, said that Sunday’s race was good overall but an error she committed in her pacing cost her the timing she had hoped for. “ The weather, route and facilities – everything was good. I had set a target of finishing in below three hours. The race required us to do two loops of the assigned route. Unfortunately, I was a bit slow in the first loop. Although I did the second loop at the correct pace, it wasn’t enough to make up for the timing I lost,’’ she said.

In the half marathon category at 2021 NDM, Amar Singh Devanda was the winner with timing of 1:13:58. In second position was Dhananjay Sharma (1:15:33); third place went to Sangh Priya Gautam (1:16:35). The podium finishers among women in this category were Jyoti Chauhan (1:20:57) in first place, Pooja (1:28:39) in second and Tashi Ladol (1:30:13), third.

In the open category of the full marathon, Nihal Baig won the men’s race with timing of 2:31:33 while Nupur Singh won the women’s race covering the distance in 3:03:17. In the men’s race, Manoj Yadav finished second with timing of 2:33:25; Pramod Chahar (2:33:55) finished third. In the women’s open category, Prachi Raju Godbole finished second with timing of 3:03:44; Disket Dolma (3:18:56) placed third. Nupur’s timing of 3:03:17 was her personal best, an improvement by seven minutes. “ My training was good except in the last one month. The training helped me to do well today. Also, last week I had a focused nutrition plan. That helped me during the race as well as in the post-race recovery,” Nupur said.

IAU & AFI 6-Hour Global Solidarity Run witnesses good performance by Indian ultra-runners

The IAU & AFI 6-Hour Global Solidarity Run was held as scheduled on March 21, 2021.

The virtual run saw some good performances from Indian ultra-runners.

Sampath Kumar Subramanian covered the maximum distance among Indian runners chosen to participate in the event. He covered a distance of 81.98 kilometers in the stipulated six hours.

Velu Perumal, who won the 24-hour category at the NEB Sports Stadium Run held at Bengaluru in January 2021, covered a distance of 76.69 km. Amar Singh Devanda, who secured a national best in 100 km at the Tuffman Chandigarh Stadium Run held earlier in March 2021, covered a distance of 74.04 km.

Among women, Preeti Lala, winner of the 24-hour NEB Sports Mumbai Stadium Run, covered the maximum distance of 60.52 km. Ashwini Ganapathi covered 53.14 km distance during the stipulated period. Aparna Choudhary covered 51.06 km during the six-hour period.

Running at their respective locations, the participants dedicated the run to ultra-runner L.L. Meena, who passed away on February 10, 2021.

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

BAA announces virtual Boston Marathon open to first 70,000 entrants

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has announced that it will offer a virtual Boston Marathon, open to everyone aged 18 or over, in celebration of the 125th Boston Marathon this fall. “ Held in addition to the in-person Boston Marathon scheduled for Monday, October 11, 2021, the virtual race will be open to the first 70,000 registrants,’’ a statement dated March 2, 2021, available on the event organizer’s website said.

“ We anticipate having a reduced field size for the in-person road race on Monday, October 11 but want to celebrate and honor the 125th running of the Boston Marathon through this virtual race,” Tom Grilk, President and CEO of BAA, was quoted as saying. “ For the first time in our history, most everyone will have the opportunity to earn a Unicorn finisher’s medal for every B.A.A. race in 2021—no matter whether they choose to walk or run,” he added. 

Registration for the virtual Boston Marathon will open through the BAA’s Athletes’ Village and will take place separately from the in-person registration. “ All participants will need to complete the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in one, continuous attempt in order to earn their Unicorn finisher’s medal, but will not be limited to any time restrictions. Participants in the virtual 125th Boston Marathon also will receive a virtual toolkit with an official bib number, champion’s breaktape, start and finish line, and more,’’ the statement said.

In 2020, 16,183 runners from nearly 90 countries and all 50 U.S. states had finished the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience.

According to the statement, field size for the in-person Boston Marathon, scheduled to take place on Monday, October 11, has not yet been finalized but will be smaller than previous years in order to enhance participant and public safety. “ The BAA will strive to achieve a field size composition as close to previous years as possible, with approximately 80% of the field being comprised of qualified entrants and 20% being comprised of invitational entries, including charity program runners. Details about the in-person race, including registration dates, COVID-19 safety measures, and participant requirements will be announced in the coming weeks,’’ it said.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / FEBRUARY 2021

L L Meena (right, with the Indian flag) Photo: courtesy Sunil Chainani

Ultra-runner L. L. Meena passes away

Noted ultra-runner, L. L. Meena, passed away on February 10, 2021, following a battle with cancer.

Meena, who worked with the Indian Army had turned 39 on February 1. He had been running ultra-distance races for the past several years and had represented India in both the 2018 100 kilometer IAU World Championships in Croatia and the 2018 24-hour IAU Asia & Oceania Championships in Taipei.

“ He was running ultra-distance races much before India started sending teams to represent the country in international championships,” Sunil Chainani, member of the Ultra Running Committee of Athletics Federation of India, said. At the Taipei event, he pushed himself over the last couple of hours to help India secure the bronze medal. He was among the three top Indian finishers, the others being Ullas Narayana and Sunil Sharma, Chainani said. The team medal is decided on the performance of the top three runners. The Indian team was represented by six runners at that event.

Many ultra-runners remember Meena as a kind, genuine, compassionate, extremely helpful and down-to-earth person. He was known to be very supportive of runners. “ In Croatia, we had rented a large apartment for the event. Meena would cook for all of us,” Sunil Chainani remembered. “ He was extremely supportive and a very positive person. You won’t find another ultra-runner like Meena. We ran together at many events,” Pranaya Mohanty, ultra-runner, said. 

“ He was a very selfless individual,” Anjali Saraogi, ultra-runner, said. Meena used to call people without fail, on festival days and their birthdays, to wish them. She remembered in particular the support he offered at the 100 kilometer IAU World Championships in Croatia. Anjali came into this event as a comparative novice. “ Meena had already done many ultra-runs and stadium runs. He used to call me and provide tips and suggestions on how to prepare. He was protective and encouraging,” she said. In the run up to the event Anjali came down with dengue fever. Result – on the day of the competition, as the run got underway, she found herself really challenged. “ I was suffering. The competition in Croatia was held on a loop. There were many instances when Meena and I passed each other on that loop. At each instance, he would overlook his own suffering and encourage me,” Anjali said, pointing out how Meena never lost sight of the team. “ His passing is a big loss for the Indian ultra-running community,” she said.  

According to those who knew him well, the type of cancer Meena suffered from was tough to overcome. It was detected in the second stage. Both the news of Meena’s ailment and his eventual passing, reached the running community late. Chander Kandpal is among those who knew Meena well. He comprehended the situation obliquely at the 2020 New Delhi Marathon. At one of the hydration points en route, he came across Meena cheering and supporting the runners. Chander noticed the typical signs of chemotherapy on Meena; that was how he got to know of the predicament. “ He used to come to Delhi for treatment. After the diagnosis, which I think was sometime in August 2019, Meena didn’t participate in any event. But he would turn up to cheer and support others,” Chander said, adding, “ anybody can be a good runner but being a great human being, that is not possible for everyone. Meena was just that. He was the finest human being in the ultra-running community.”  

New national records in 20km race walk

Sandeep Kumar (Haryana) and Priyanka Goswami (Uttar Pradesh) became the first Indian athletes to qualify for next year’s World Athletics Championships Oregon22 when they broke the national record in the 20km race walk for men and women respectively, a press release dated February 13, available on the website of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said.

The event concerned was held on a 1km-loop on Morabadi Road in Ranchi.

“ Together with Rahul Kumar, who finished second in the men’s event, they also qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games to be held later this year. Both men are athletes from the Army Sports Institute They took the number of Indian race walkers who have made the grade to five, joining K T Irfan and Bhawana Jat.  Their efforts have raised the number of Indian qualifiers to 14 so far,” the release said.

Results:

Men 20km walk: 1. Sandeep Kumar (Haryana) 1:20:16 (new national record / old: 1:20:16, K T Irfan, London, 2012 and Devender Singh, Nomi, 2016); 2. Rahul Kumar (Haryana) 1:24:41; 3. Hardeep (Haryana) 1:47:47.

Women 20km walk: 1. Priyanka Goswami (Uttar Pradesh) 1:28:45 (new national record / old: 1:31:29, Baby Sowmya, Delhi, 2018; awaiting ratification 1:29.54, Bhawana Jat, Ranchi, 2020); 2. Bhawana Jat (Rajasthan) 1:32:59; 3. Sonal Sukwal (Rajasthan) 1:36:05.

List of ultra-runners for Global Solidarity Run announced

A press release from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), dated February 26, 2021 and available on the organization’s website, disclosed the list of ultra-runners selected for the IAU & AFI 6 Hour Global Solidarity Run to be held on 21st March 2021.

According to the release, the following athletes have been selected to run the IAU 6 Hour Global Solidarity Run, slated for 05:30 AM – 11:30 AM IST on the aforesaid date:

Men: Binay Kumar Sah, Sunil Sharma, Amar Singh Devanda, Velu P, Praveen Kumar, Geeno Antony, Amit Kumar, Sampath Kumar Subramanian and Ajit Singh Narwal.

Women: Preeti Lala, Ashwini G, Anju Saini and Aparna Choudhary.

The following athletes have been selected to run the AFI 6 Hour Solidarity Run, also scheduled for the same date, same time:

Men: Badal Teotia, Saurav Kr Rajan, Manoj Bhat and Pranaya Pratap Mohanty

“ In addition, the committee will also invite ultra-runners meeting the criteria to participate in the AFI 6 Hour Solidarity Run,’’ the release said.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

PREETI LALA WINS 24 HOUR MUMBAI STADIUM RUN

Preeti Lala (Photo: courtesy Preeti)

Deepak Bandbe wins in 100 km category

Preeti’s mileage is the second best by an Indian woman in the 24-hour category so far

Preeti Lala emerged the overall winner of the Ageas Federal Life Insurance 24-hour Stadium Run held in Mumbai over February 6-7, 2021.

Thane-based Preeti, the sole woman running the 24-hour race category at the Mumbai event, finished way ahead of the rest of the field, covering a distance of 193.60 kilometers during the allotted time of 24 hours. It is the second best by an Indian woman in the race category so far. It was also the maximum distance covered across both genders in the given race category, at the Mumbai stadium run. 

Apoorva Chaudhary holds the national best of 202.212 km, set during the 2019 IAU 24-hour World Championships held in Albi, France. During the same event, Priyanka Bhatt had finished with a distance of 192.845 km. It is this mark that Preeti has bettered.

In the 24-hour category at the Mumbai event, Parwinder Singh was the winner among men with 154 km covered. Buddhi Saini finished second (151.60 km) and Munir Kulavoor third (150 km).

Deepak Bandbe, running in the 100 km category at the Mumbai event, finished the race in seven hours, 57 minutes and 47 seconds. It is the third best finish so far for Indian men in the 100 km category.

Sandeep Kumar had set the national best in 100 km – 7:56:22 – at the Bengaluru Stadium Run held on January 23 and 24, 2021. At the same meet, Abhinav Jha had secured the second best male performance in the same category with a timing of 7:57:35.

In the 100 km category for men in Mumbai, Nilesh Yadav finished second with timing of 8:27:28. Aaditya Dattaram Badavate placed third with 9:24:20. In the 12 hour-category, Sandel Kisan Nipane (120.80 km) was the winner among men. He was followed by Raman Baisla (119.60 km) and Ankur Lakhera (112.80 km). From among women, the winner was Reena Maru (98.40 km). She was followed by Mahek Makhija (95.60 km) and Corina Van Dam and Pooja Varma (both 82.80 km). The Mumbai event was organized by NEB Sports.

Preeti started her run at 6PM on February 6, 2021. “ I did not have any target except that I wanted to be on my feet for the entire 24 hours,” she said.

Deepak Bandbe (Photo: courtesy NEB Sports)

Participants were few as there was uncertainty about the event taking place, she said. Training could have been better but the uncertainty affected it. Still, she had moderately good training sessions for three months with average mileage of 100-120 kilometers per week.

Over 2020, training for most runners was impeded by the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preeti’s last run before the lockdown was in the 50 km category at Tata Ultra of February 2020.

Getting back to training after the lockdown induced-break, Preeti chose to run the Run to the Moon challenge organised by NEB Sports. “ The challenge required us to run a distance of 2 km to 10 km daily. This helped me get back into rhythm,” she said. She also participated in TCS 10k virtual run.

“ I am happy that the event (Mumbai Stadium Run) took place finally. The weather was mostly humid especially during the night but early mornings were quite cool. We had several hours of scorching sun,” Preeti said.

“ The excellent arrangements at the venue with volunteers and runners supporting me during the race, helped immensely,” she said.

Apeksha Shah and her husband, both runners, provided substantial support to Preeti. “ Also, Pranaya Mohanty, ultra-runner from Bengaluru, ran with me for the last 20 km,” she said.

(The author, Latha Venkatraman, is an independent journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / JANUARY 2021

Jim Walmsley (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page)

100K / Walmsley misses world record by 11 seconds

Ultramarathon runner, Jim Walmsley of the US, broke the American record but narrowly missed setting a new world mark in the 100k at the Project Carbon X 2 event organized by Hoka One One in Chandler, Arizona on January 23, 2021.

Walmsley covered the distance in 6:09:25. The world record of 6:09:14 set in 2018 is held by Japan’s Nao Kazami. The previous American record was 6:27:44, set by Max King in 2014, Runner’s World said in their report on Walmsley’s performance.

At the Chandler event, the runner finishing second behind Walmsley was Rajpaul Pannu. He finished in 6:28:31. According to an article in Runner’s World dated June 4, 2019, Pannu made his marathon debut in a timing of 2:17:06 at the 2017 California International Marathon; it gained him a berth for the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials. At the subsequent trials, he finished 63rd, the magazine’s report on the Chandler event, said. For more on Pannu, please click on this link to access the Runner’s World article: https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a27632323/rajpaul-pannu-olympic-marathon-trials-qualifier/

The women’s race was won by Audrey Tanguy of France; her timing was 7:40:36 (source: Athletics Weekly).

Indian runners dominate SAAF elite category of 2021 Dhaka Marathon

Indian long distance runners dominated the SAAF (South Asian Athletics Federation) elite category of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Dhaka Marathon held on January 10, 2021. The said category covers runners from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries.

In the women’s section of the SAAF elite category, Jyoti Gawate of India secured second position covering the distance in 3:00:16 hours. Fellow Indians Divyanka Chaudhary (3:07:41) placed third and Jigmet Dolma (3:09:41), fourth. The category was won by Nepal’s Puspa Bhandari in 2:59:41. 

In the men’s segment of the SAAF elite category, the top three positions were swept by Indian runners. India’s Bahadur Singh Dhouni (2:21:40) topped the segment. Second place went to Rashpal Singh (2:21:41). Het Ram (2:25:23) finished third while Manvendra Singh (2:36:48), also of India, finished fifth. Fourth place in the category went to Kiran Singh Bogati Rajwar (2:26:13) of Nepal.

According to a report in the Dhaka Tribune, the overall winner of the elite category was Hicham Laqouahi of Morocco; the winner in the women’s elite category was Angela Jemesunde of Kenya. Thirty five international runners including 23 elites from France, Kenya, Ethiopia, Bahrain, Belarus, Lesotho, Ukraine, Spain and Morocco and 12 from Maldives, Nepal and India, participated in the marathon.  Around 200 runners participated in the event organized by the Bangladesh Army, the report said.

Swimming pools permitted for use by all

In its latest guidelines for relaxing the lockdown triggered by COVID-19 last year, the central government has said that swimming pools will soon be accessible to all users.

Currently the use of pools is restricted to competition swimmers.

“ Swimming pools have already been permitted for use of sports persons. Now these will be permitted for use of all, for which a revised SOP will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in consultation with MHA,” a Press Trust of India (PTI) report on the latest guidelines, published January 27, 2021 and available on leading news websites, said.

According to it, the new guidelines will be effective from February 1, 2021.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / DECEMBER 2020

2020 World Athletes of the Year: Mondo Duplantis and Yulimar Rojas

Mondo Duplantis. This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of the athlete and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela have been named the male and female World Athletes of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2020, a report on the website of World Athletics said. The ceremony was held virtually on December 5.

“ Duplantis broke the world record in the pole vault twice, topping 6.17m and 6.18m on back-to-back weekends in February just a few weeks before the global coronavirus pandemic ground the sporting world to a halt. When competition finally resumed, Duplantis capped his season and produced the highest outdoor vault of all time (6.15m) and finished the year undefeated in 16 competitions. Duplantis, who celebrated his 21st birthday last month, is the youngest athlete ever named World Athlete of the Year,’’ the report said.

Yulimar Rojas. This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of the athlete and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

On Yulimar Rojas, it said, “ Rojas broke the South American indoor triple jump record in her first competition of the year, reaching 15.03m in Metz, France. In her next competition, at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid, she leaped 15.43m in the final round of the competition to break the world indoor record by seven centimetres. She competed just twice outdoors, winning the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco and again in Castellon, Spain, where she sailed 14.71m, the farthest leap in the world outdoors this year.’’

Incidentally, the Coaching Achievement Award was won by Helena and Greg Duplantis, the parents and coaching team behind the success of Male World Athlete of the Year Mondo Duplantis. “ While the pair take on many roles, Helena, a former heptathlete, mainly helps with her son’s conditioning while Greg, a 5.80m pole vaulter in his prime, assists with technique,’’ the report said.

World Athletics approves a change to shoe rules

World Athletics has approved a change to its rules governing development (prototype) shoes following requests by all major shoe manufacturers and the industry body that represents them, the World Federation of the Sports Goods Industry (‘WFSGI’).

According to press release available on the website of World Athletics, “the amendment to the rule will allow development shoes to be worn in international competitions and competitions sanctioned by Member Federations where World Athletics rules are applied, prior to their availability to other athletes, upon approval of the shoe specifications by World Athletics. These shoes will have to meet the same technical specifications as all other approved shoes.

“ Development shoes can continue to be worn in any competition where World Athletics’ competition and technical rules are not applied. The amendment, approved by World Athletics’ Council on 4 December, applies with immediate effect, to competitions sanctioned by World Athletics, Area Associations or Member Federations at which World Athletics’ Competition Rules and Technical Rules are enforced, but will not be permitted to be worn at the World Athletics Series or the Olympic Games. The development shoe can only be worn for a 12 month ‘development’ period.

“ A list of approved development shoes will be posted on the World Athletics website stating the date from which the development shoe can be worn and the expiry date for approval. To date there is a list of 200 (spikes and non-spikes) approved shoes listed and published on the World Athletics website.

“ This new proposal will be complemented by an athletic shoe availability scheme for shoes which is being developed by a Working Group on Athletic Shoes with representatives from shoe manufacturers and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI).’’

The attached summary of notes explained, “ “Development shoe” means a shoe (i.e. spike or road shoes) which has never been available for purchase but which a sports manufacturer is developing to bring to market and would like to conduct tests with their sponsored athletes (who agree to test the shoe) on issues such as safety and performance before the shoe is available for purchase.’’

According to it, development shoes are not required to be made available for purchase or subject to the availability scheme provided that, prior to being worn for the first time, the development shoe meets the following conditions:

  • The athlete (or their representative) must submit the specification to World Athletics and, where requested, provide a sample of the development shoe for further examination which includes, if necessary, cutting up the shoe, and provide the date and event of the first competition at which the athlete wishes to compete in a development shoe
  • Confirm the latest date upon which the sports manufacturer will make the final version of the development shoe available for purchase which must be not be later than 12 months after the first time the development shoe is worn in a competition.
  • The athlete (or their representative) submits to World Athletics a list containing the date and event of the first and all subsequent competitions at which the athlete proposes to wear a development shoe within the 12 month period. The athlete (or their representative) must notify World Athletics of any changes to that list.
  • The athlete (or their representative) has received prior written approval from World Athletics that the development shoe complies with the requirements of Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and is approved for use in competitions.
  • Subject to compliance with all rules and regulations (including this Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and these notes), performances achieved by an athlete wearing a development shoe will be valid. After the conclusion of a competition a development shoe must be handed over by the athlete on request by World Athletics for further investigation by World Athletics which includes, if necessary, cutting up the development shoe.
  • World Athletics will publish from time to time on its website a list of approved development shoes stating the date starting from which the development shoe can be worn and the expiry date for approval. No technical or proprietary information belonging to a sports manufacturer will be published.
  • After the expiry date specified the shoe no longer qualifies as a development shoe and can no longer be used in competitions. The shoe will be removed from the approved list after its expiry date and, subject to compliance with all rules and regulations (including this Rule 5 of the Technical Rules and these notes), results achieved by an athlete wearing the development shoe will remain valid.
  • In accordance with the rules and regulations, World Athletics reserves the right to classify a result as ‘Uncertified’ (‘UNC TR5.5’) or declare the athlete’s performance as invalid for non-compliance with Technical Rule 5.

Asha Singh (Photo: courtesy Asha)

Asha Singh wins 100 km Lucknow stadium run event

Asha Singh, 55, won the woman’s race in the 100 kilometers stadium run held at Lucknow on December 6, 2020. She completed the distance in 12 hours and 33 seconds.

Among men, Amar Shivdev was winner in the same category. The event was organized by Wellness Lucknow.

Asha had only recently recovered from shoulder dislocation caused by a vehicular accident in the US. Her tryst with recreational running started in 2016 when she participated in a 10 kilometer-run in Pune, where she was residing with her husband, Bajrang Singh, now a retired army officer. Bajrang is also a recreational runner.

Though bereft of exposure to sports in the preceding years, Asha took to long-distance running enthusiastically. Over the past four years, she has participated in 19 full marathons and secured podium finishes in her age category in 14 of them, she said.

For the stadium run, her training was inadequate. “ I was in Delhi with my daughter, who had given birth to a child. I did some 10-kilometer and 20-kilometer runs,” she said.

Asha was keen to do the 100 kilometer-race. “My husband told me I am not ready for it. But having enrolled I just decided to go and run and see how far I will sustain,” she said.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / NOVEMBER 2020

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

2020 World Athlete of the Year: nominations announced

The nominees for the 2020 World Athlete of the Year (male and female) have been announced.

According to two press releases dated November 2, 2020 and November 3, 2020, available on the website of World Athletics, ten male athletes and ten female athletes have been nominated in their respective gender categories. “ The nominations reflect the remarkable range of exceptional performances that the sport has witnessed this year, despite the challenges that the global Covid-19 pandemic presented,’’ the releases said.

The nominees for the Male World Athlete of the Year are:

Donavan Brazier, USA – ran world-leading 800m times indoors (1:44.22, North American indoor record) and outdoors (1:43.15) – won all seven of his races over all distances;  Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda – broke world records at 5000m (12:35.36), 10,000m (26:11.00) and 5km on the roads (12:51) – was fourth at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships on his debut over the distance, Timothy Cheruiyot, Kenya – ran world-leading 3:28.45 over 1500m – undefeated in three 1500m races, Ryan Crouser, USA – undefeated in 10 shot put competitions – his 22.91m world-leading performance moved him to equal third on the world all-time list, Mondo Duplantis, Sweden – broke the world record in the pole vault twice (6.17m and 6.18m) and produced the highest outdoor vault of all time (6.15m) – undefeated in 16 competitions, Jacob Kiplimo, Uganda – won world half marathon title in a championship record of 58:49 – ran a world-leading 7:26.64 over 3000m, the fastest time in the world since 2007, Noah Lyles, USA – undefeated in five finals – ran a world-leading 19.76 over 200m, Daniel Stahl, Sweden – won 17 of his 19 discus competitions – threw a world-leading 71.37m, Johannes Vetter, Germany – won eight of his nine javelin competitions – threw a world-leading 97.76m, the second farthest throw in history and Karsten Warholm, Norway – ran a world-leading 46.87 in the 400m hurdles, the second fastest performance in history – undefeated in nine 400m/400m hurdles races and set world best of 33.78 in 300m hurdles.

The nominees for 2020 Female World Athlete of the Year are:

Femke Bol, Netherlands – undefeated in six 400m hurdles races – ran a world-leading 53.79 in the 400m hurdles; Letesenbet Gidey, Ethiopia – set a world record of 14:06.62 over 5000m – was second in the Monaco Diamond League over 5000m, Sifan Hassan, Netherlands – set a world record of 18,930m in the one hour run – set a European record of 29:36.67 over 10,000m, the fourth fastest performance in history, Peres Jepchirchir, Kenya – won the world half marathon title – twice broke the world half marathon record for a women-only race (1:05:34 and 1:05:16),  Faith Kipyegon, Kenya – undefeated in five races over all distances – ran world-leading performances over 800m (1:57.68) and 1000m (2:29.15), Laura Muir, Great Britain and Northern Ireland – undefeated in three 1500m races – ran a world-leading 3:57.40 over 1500m, Hellen Obiri, Kenya – undefeated in three races over 3000m and 5000m – ran a world-leading 8:22.54 over 3000m, Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela – undefeated in four triple jump competitions indoors and outdoors – broke the world indoor triple jump record with 15.43m, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Jamaica – undefeated in seven 100m races – ran world-leading 10.85 over 100m and Ababel Yeshaneh, Ethiopia – broke the world record in the half marathon with 1:04:31 – finished fifth at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships.

“ A three-way voting process will determine the finalists. The World Athletics Council and the World Athletics Family will cast their votes by email, while fans can vote online via the World Athletics’ social media platforms. Individual graphics for each nominee will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this week; a ‘like’ on Facebook and Instagram or a retweet on Twitter will count as one vote. The World Athletics Council’s vote will count for 50% of the result, while the World Athletics Family’s votes and the public votes will each count for 25% of the final result. Voting for the World Athletes of the Year closes at midnight on Sunday 15 November. At the conclusion of the voting process, five men and five women finalists will be announced by World Athletics. The male and female World Athletes of the Year will be announced live at the World Athletics Awards 2020 on Saturday 5 December,’’ the first of the two press releases said. The male nominees were announced on November 2 and the female nominees, on November 3.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / OCTOBER 2020

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

New world records ratified

The new world records set in early September by Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya), Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) and Mo Farah (UK), have been ratified, World Athletics informed in a statement dated October 12, 2020, available on their website.

“ Jepchirchir’s 1:05:34 women-only world half marathon record and the one-hour world records from Hassan (18,930m) and Mo Farah (21,330m) are now official,’’ the statement said. Jepchirchir had produced her record-breaking run on September 5, 2020 at the Prague 21.1KM, an invitational-only elite half marathon held on a 16.5-lap course in Letna Park in the Czech capital. Hassan and Farah stormed into the record books at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels on September 4, the night before Jepchirchir’s race in Prague.

These records fall in the category of sterling performances reported amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled mass participation events and upset the staging schedule of competitions worldwide. The first major world record in athletics, in this context, was Joshua Cheptegei’s new mark in the 5000 meters track race for men, set on August 14, 2020. The Ugandan athlete covered the distance in 12:35:36. In October, Cheptegei rewrote the time taken for the track based-10,000 meters, when he set a new world record of 26:11:00. At the same event in Valencia, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey set a new world record in the 5000 meters for women, completing the race in 14:06:62.

Adille Sumariwalla is AFI president for a third time, Anju Bobby George is senior vice president

Adille J. Sumariwalla was elected president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for a third time at its annual general meeting, a press release dated October 31, 2020, available on the website of AFI, said.  Anju Bobby George, India’s only medalist in the World Athletics Championships, was elected as senior vice president. Ravinder Chaudhary and Madhukant Pathak were elected secretary and treasurer of the organization respectively.

In response to claims by some non-members about the legality of Sumariwalla’s nomination for his third term, AFI has clarified that he filed nomination not only as president of Maharashtra Athletics Association but also as outgoing AFI president, as allowed by AFI Constitution (Clause XXVIII.A.e) which specifies the president does not require representation either to sit in meetings or to contest election for the next tenure.

All positions in the AFI Executive Committee were elected unopposed, the release said.

According to it, Sumariwalla, who said that the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has had a cascading effect on a lot of areas in the sport, including the mental health of athletes and the earnings of the federation, has encouraged state associations to actively seek the help of their respective state governments to ensure that athletics competitions can resume sooner than later.

“ On the first day of the two-day annual general meeting, some key issues including age-fraud, doping and over-training were taken up. The house agreed that while AFI has taken many steps to curb age-fraud, state and district associations needed to be more proactive in ending the scourge of age-fraud that leaves athletes,’’ the release added.

Pocket Outdoor Media Acquires Big Stone Publishing

Outdoor enthusiasts, climbers and those into endurance sports in India would be familiar with publications like Climbing, Rock and Ice, Backpacker, Trail Runner and VeloNews. A recent acquisition in the publishing world has brought these titles under one roof.

Early October 2020, Pocket Outdoor Media (POM) announced its takeover of Big Stone Publishing (BSP). Both companies are based in the US. POM has in its fold titles like Climbing, Backpacker, Women’s Running, Triathlete, Yoga Journal, Clean Eating, VeloNews and SKI. BSP’s list of publications included Rock and Ice, Trail Runner, ASCENT, Gym Climber and Dirt.

In a related statement available on the website of POM, its CEO Robin Thurston has said, “ this acquisition significantly strengthens our ability to engage with outdoor enthusiasts across all of the seasons and sports that live at the intersection of adrenaline and adventure. By merging Rock & Ice into Climbing, we’ll be better positioned to deliver exceptional content and cover all of the sport’s disciplines—trad, sport, gym, and alpine climbing—in ways not possible before. Similarly, Trail Runner broadens our running portfolio, adding the dominant title in the sport’s fastest-growing discipline.”

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / SEPTEMBER 2020

Caster Semenya (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose only. No copyright infringement intended)

Caster Semenya case: Swiss apex court supports earlier CAS ruling

South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya, saw her options shrink further as Switzerland’s top court ruled in favor of the regulations that bar her from continued participation in certain race categories for women. The ruling, early September 2020, may have shut the doors on her defending her title in the 800 meters at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Semenya has a rare genetic condition that significantly elevates her testosterone level. It made her participation in the female category at races, controversial. World Athletics had decided in 2018 that intersex athletes with disorder in sexual development and having both X and Y chromosomes would require lowering their testosterone levels to compete in women’s events ranging from quarter mile to a mile, distances demanding both speed and endurance. Semenya had challenged such reduction requiring intake of medicines. In 2019 after the Switzerland based-Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in favor of the restrictions, Semenya had approached the Swiss Supreme Court.  Early September, 2020 the Court said that CAS had the right to rule as it did.

In a press release dated September 8, 2020, available on its website, World Athletics said, “ for the last five years World Athletics (formerly IAAF) has fought for and defended equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls in our sport today and in the future. We therefore welcome today’s decision by the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT) to uphold our DSD Regulations as a legitimate and proportionate means of protecting the right of all female athletes to participate in our sport on fair and meaningful terms.’’

It added, “ World Athletics fully respects each individual’s personal dignity and supports the social movement to have people accepted in society based on their chosen legal sex and/or gender identity. As the SFT specifically recognised, however, the DSD Regulations are not about challenging an individual’s gender identity, but rather about protecting fair competition for all female athletes. The Swiss Federal Tribunal acknowledged that innate characteristics can distort the fairness of competitions, noted that in sport several categories (such as weight categories) have been created based on biometric data, and confirmed that ‘It is above all up to the sports federations to determine to what extent a particular physical advantage is likely to distort competition and, if necessary, to introduce legally admissible eligibility rules to remedy this state of affairs.’

“ The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) agreed with World Athletics in its 30 April 2019 award and now the SFT has also agreed that ‘In some contexts, such as competitive sport, biological characteristics may, exceptionally and for the purposes of fairness and equal opportunity, trump a person’s legal sex or gender identity’.

“ The SFT concluded: “Based on these findings, the CAS decision cannot be challenged. Fairness in sport is a legitimate concern and forms a central principle of sporting competition. It is one of the pillars on which competition is based. The European Court of Human Rights also attaches particular importance to the aspect of fair competition. In addition to this significant public interest, the CAS rightly considered the other relevant interests, namely the private interests of the female athletes running in the ‘women’ category.’’

Semenya has said that she will continue to fight against the restrictions. In a statement from her published in the report by New York Times (dated September 8, 2020) on the latest update to her case, Semenya says, “ I am very disappointed by this ruling, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am. Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history.”  The report in the New York Times pointed out that Semenya’s supporters include the World Medical Association (WMA), which has requested doctors not to implement the World Athletics regulations. WMA has questioned the ethics and potential harm in requiring athletes to take hormone therapy not based on medical need.“  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also called for the regulations to be revoked. Human Rights Watch has called the regulations “stigmatizing, stereotyping and discriminatory,” saying they amount to “policing of women’s bodies on the basis of arbitrary definitions of femininity and racial stereotypes,” – the report said.

AFI seeks priority for Olympics-bound athletes in vaccination plan

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has sought priority for Olympics-bound athletes in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

According to a report from Press Trust of India, published September 16, 2020 in leading dailies, discussions in this regard have already happened. “ We have already discussed this with the government and told them we will need it (vaccine) for our athletes going to the Olympics,” AFI President Adille Sumariwalla was quoted as saying in the report “ We need to make sure once the vaccine comes out, they (Olympic-bound athletes) should be amongst the first batches to get it and the discussion regarding that has already happened,” he added. The AFI chief was speaking at a webinar.

Duplantis vaults past Bubka’s record

Swedish athlete Armand Duplantis has broken Sergey Bubka’s longstanding outdoor world record in the pole vault.

A report dated September 18, 2020, available on the website of World Athletics, said that he cleared 6.15 meters at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rome, a day earlier.

According to it, in February this year, Duplantis had set world records of 6.17m and 6.18m on the World Indoor Tour. “ But no one had ever jumped higher than 6.14m in an outdoor stadium. Sergey Bubka’s 6.14m monument from 1994 had stood inviolate for 26 years, but it has been under siege from Duplantis this season,’’ the report said, adding, “ before last night, he had taken 13 attempts at 6.15m after cutting a swathe through the world’s best pole vaulters in this short, sharp competition season.’’

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Boston Marathon organizers postpone registrations for 2021

Boston Athletic Association (BAA), organizers of the Boston Marathon, has announced that registration for the 2021 Boston Marathon will not take place in September.  The registration process has been postponed, BAA said in a statement dated September 3, 2020, available on its website.

Every year, registrations for Boston Marathon open in September of the previous year. According to Tom Grilk, CEO, BAA, COVID-19 has affected mass participation road races in ways that could never have been imagined. “ September is usually a time for the BAA to begin opening registration for April’s Boston Marathon and planning for an already established field size. We know, however, that we cannot open registration until we have a better understanding of where the virus may be in the spring,” he was quoted as saying.

To guide it on the path ahead, BAA has formed a COVID-19 Medical & Event Operations Advisory Group consisting of medical, public safety, and race operations experts, as well as city and state officials.

“ The Medical & Event Operations Advisory Group will recommend strategies that address the health and safety of participants, volunteers, staff, and community members. Recommendations will be developed in accordance with the most current guidelines issued for large-scale events by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. The group will develop framework for the B.A.A. that addresses risk factors specific to the Boston Marathon including size and other local and international considerations for the pandemic. Outcomes, including an updated registration timeline for the 125th Boston Marathon, will be shared,’’ the related statement available on the race website said.

“ We seek to determine with some specificity how and when large-scale road running events organized by the B.A.A. may be able to reasonably resume, while also providing input on which operational aspects will change as events are organized and managed,” Dr. Aaron Baggish, Co-Medical Director for the BAA and Boston Marathon, Director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center, and co-chair of the advisory group, was quoted as saying.

Boston Marathon is usually held on Patriots’ Day, which falls on April 19 in 2021.

This year’s, Boston Marathon was cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be held in virtual format.

World Athletics road running season restarts

World Athletics’ 2020 road running season will recommence this month backed by a strong anti-doping program. However, the race calendar is subject to changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release dated September 1, 2020, available on the website of the apex body overseeing athletics globally, “ the schedule begins with the Vidovdanska Trka 10km (Bronze Label) on 6 September and still features the Virgin Money London Marathon (Platinum Label) on 4 October, the same day as the venerable Kosice Peace Marathon (Silver Label) in Slovakia, as well as a host of other Gold, Silver and Bronze events in various countries. This schedule does remain subject to change, due to the ongoing uncertainty created by the progress of the Coronavirus pandemic around the world.’’

The calendar for the rest of the year will be supported by a strong anti-doping program. “ Road athletes will be able to register Olympic qualifying entry standards from 1 September to 30 November, but only in preidentified, advertised and authorized races being staged on World Athletics certified courses, with in-competition drug testing on site. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has confirmed it will have appropriate anti-doping systems in place for all qualifying races,” the release said.

In late July, World Athletics had agreed to lift the suspension on the Tokyo Olympic qualifying process for the marathon and race walk events from 1 September 2020, due to concerns over the lack of qualifying opportunities that may be available for road athletes before the qualification period finishes on 31 May 2021. The original suspension period, from 6 April to 30 November 2020, was introduced due to the competition and training disruption caused by the global pandemic, and remains in place for all other track and field events. The accrual of points for world rankings and the automatic qualification through Gold label marathons / Platinum Label marathons remains suspended until 30 November 2020.

Last year, the AIU had reached an agreement with the Abbott World Marathon Majors wherein the organization agreed to provide additional funding for intelligence-led anti-doping investigation and testing program, which would allow the AIU to monitor a larger pool of elite road runners. The said program has been expanded this year with contributions from other key stakeholders of the road running community – the organizers of all Label races, athlete representatives and shoe companies. Three major shoe companies – ASICS, Adidas and Nike – have agreed to contribute to the AIU’s Road Running Integrity Programme, the release said.

The ongoing commitment of all these key stakeholders means that more than 300 Platinum and Gold Label athletes will be monitored and tested during the coming season. The AIU expects to be able to create individual intelligence profiles for all of these athletes this year, establishing baseline parameters for each athlete’s biological passport, ahead of target testing in 2021.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

AT A GLANCE / AUGUST 2020

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Sports functions of up to 100 persons allowed from September 21

Under guidelines for further relaxation of lockdown in areas outside containment zones, the central government in its order dated August 29, 2020 has allowed sports functions involving up to 100 persons, from September 21, 2020 onward.

“ Social / academic / sports / entertainment / cultural / religious / political functions and other congregations with a ceiling of 100 persons, will be permitted with effect from 21st September, 2020 with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer,’’  one of the sub sections of the order said.

Swimming pools will however continue to remain closed.

AFI defers start of national competitions

The competition committee of Athletics Federation of India (AFI), at its meeting of August 28, 2020, decided to defer the start of national competitions.

According to a related press release, AFI had been hoping to resume competitions on September 12, 2020 with an AFI Grand Prix in Patiala. “ It would be advisable if the coaches redraw the training schedules of athletes. We are now looking at October end or early November for some competitions for seniors and late November for juniors,” AFI president, Adille J. Sumariwalla was quoted as saying. The National Open Athletics Championships, slated for September 20 to 24 and the Federation Cup, due from October 5 to 9, have also been postponed, the statement said.

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Mumbai Ultra takes a break, organizes blood donation drive for Independence Day

Under normal circumstances, Independence Day would be the time for Mumbai’s annual rendezvous with the Mumbai Ultra. This year, the 12-hour run is taking a break due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and has organized instead a blood donation camp.

The camp will be held on August 15, 2020 at Veer Savarkar Smarak Bhavan, Shivaji Park, Mumbai, for a period of 12 hours from 8AM to 8PM.

“ We had to cancel this year’s ultra-running event because of the pandemic. As we have been associated with Tata Memorial Hospital for the past few years, I decided to call them and inform them about the cancellation. The director of the hospital spoke about the shortage of blood and asked us if we can organize a blood donation camp,” Naveen Hegde, one of the organizers of Mumbai Ultra, said.

The event’s organizing team then set about working on the logistics for the blood donation drive. Naveen expects around 500 people to come forward for donating blood. At the time of writing, over 450 people had registered to donate blood. Those seeking to register can get the relevant details on the event’s Facebook page.

If held, the 2020 edition of Mumbai Ultra would have been the seventh edition of the event.

Cancellation of the 2020 Ladakh Marathon now spans all race categories

The organizers of the Ladakh Marathon have confirmed that the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the event now spans all race categories.  On July 2, they had informed that the main Ladakh Marathon had been cancelled owing to COVID-19 but the two elite races in its fold – Khardung La Challenge and Silk Route Ultra – were under “ review” with a final decision expected by end-July.

A statement dated August 10, 2020, now available on the event’s website says that the cancellation includes Khardung La Challenge and Silk Route Ultra. “ The 9th edition of the Ladakh Marathon scheduled for 10 – 13 September has been cancelled because of the COVID-19. All six races – Marathon, Half Marathon, 10 km, 5 km, 72 km ultra Khardungla Challenge and 122 km Silk Route Ultra stand cancelled for the year 2020.’’

It attributed the cancellation to the situation around COVID-19 and the India-China border tensions of the past few months. Ladakh is close to the international border. “ After undertaking a risk-assessment exercise a collective decision was taken to cancel the 9th edition of the Ladakh Marathon as the well-being of our runners, the residents of Ladakh, our volunteers and staff remains our top priority,’’ the statement said, adding, “ all confirmed registrations for the 9th edition of the Ladakh Marathon have been automatically transferred for a period of two years to 2021-2022.’’

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

2020 Paris Marathon cancelled

The 2020 Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris has been cancelled.

“ After having tried everything to maintain the event, we, alongside the Ville de Paris, feel obliged to cancel the 2020 edition of the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris and the Paris Breakfast Run. Faced with the difficulty that many runners, especially those coming from abroad, had in making themselves available for the 14th / 15th November, it was decided that it would be better and simpler for those concerned if we organised the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris in 2021,’’ an official statement dated August 12, 2020, available on the event website, said.

“ Those who were signed up for this year’s edition are, if they wish, already signed up for the 2021 edition. If not, they will benefit from a voucher, the value of which being equal to however much was spent on the bib and extra options or a reimbursement after a period of 18 months,’’ the statement said adding, “ we will be working side-by-side with the Ville de Paris to put on a 2021 edition that brings together the most passionate runners on the most beautiful streets in the world.’’

Reminder from World Athletics on the need to stick to shoe regulations

World Athletics has reminded that the recently introduced Rule 5 pertaining to the sole height of shoes will need to be adhered to if the results at national championships and domestic competitions are to be recognized by it.

“ As more athletes around the world return to the track for national championships, one-day meetings and other record-breaking attempts, World Athletics has issued a reminder to Area Associations and Member Federations today about the recently introduced Rule 5, governing competition shoes. The amended rule, which puts a sole height limit of 25mm on all shoes worn in track events of 800m and above in distance (including Steeplechase), came into force on 28 July 2020, when it was published. The rule does not prevent a road running shoe from being worn on the track but a 30mm or 40mm road running shoe cannot be worn for track events because of the 25mm limit. As this is a transition period, all results currently in the World Athletics database will be processed, but any result of an individual athlete who has worn non-compliant shoes for the race will be marked “Uncertified” (“TR5.5”). In the case of National Championships and other domestic competitions, for results to be validated and recognised by World Athletics for statistics purposes, such competitions must be held under World Athletics Technical Rules and Competition Rules. This means that Rule 5 of the Technical Rules must be applied in full for the competition results to be recognised by World Athletics as valid. To preserve the integrity of national records and statistics, the responsibility lies with the Member Federation to ensure that all athletes, officials and competition organisers are fully aware that Rule 5 of the Technical Rules will be applied in full. If a Member Federation or competition organiser permits an athlete to compete in non-compliant shoes, then the athlete’s individual results from the competition will be marked in World Athletics’ records and statistics as ‘Uncertified (‘TR5.5’) i.e. invalid. In some cases, this may apply to the entire race. Results achieved before 28 July, where an athlete has worn a shoe above the current track limits, are valid provided the results were achieved in shoes that complied with the sole thicknesses in the previous rule. For example, if an athlete wore 40mm non-spike shoe on the track or 30mm spike between 31 January 2020 and the notification and publication of change of rules on 28 July 2020, then the competition result is valid. The list of shoes that were submitted to World Athletics by manufacturers for assessment, and have been approved, will be published on World Athletics’ website shortly to assist Athletes, Member Federations, Technical Officials and meeting organisers,’’ a statement dated August 10, 2020, available on the website of World Athletics said.

World Athletics publishes list of approved competition shoes

World Athletics has published the list of approved competition shoes, following the amendments to Rule 5 of the Technical Rules announced on 28 July 2020.

The list has been compiled following introduction of the requirement on 31 January 2020 that any new shoe an athlete proposes to wear in international competitions needs to be assessed by World Athletics.

According to a press release dated August 13, 2020, available on the website of World Athletics, “ the list does not contain every shoe ever worn by an athlete but it does include some older models of shoes that manufacturers sent to World Athletics for assessment by its independent expert. The position with older shoes that are not on the list is that they still need to comply with the rule going forward. The athlete, or their representative, will need to ensure their older shoe complies with Rule 5.13 in terms of the maximum sole thicknesses for their specified event and any inserted plate or blade, including spike plates if relevant.

“ Under Rule 5 of the Technical Rules, athletes (or their representative) have the responsibility to provide World Athletics with specifications of the new shoes the athlete proposes to wear in competition. World Athletics accepts shoe specification and samples submitted by manufacturers for further examination. If there is doubt about a shoe (particularly shoes that no other athlete has) then athletes, officials and meeting organisers should first refer to the approved list.

“ If the competition referee has a reasonable suspicion that a shoe worn by an athlete might not comply with the rules then at the conclusion of the competition the referee may request the shoe be handed over for further investigation by World Athletics.

“The list of approved shoes will be updated regularly to reflect any new information received.’’

The list of approved shoes (as of August 13, 2020) is available as a link on the above cited press release, on the website of World Athletics.

(The authors, Latha Venkatraman and Shyam G Menon, are independent journalists based in Mumbai.)