05 May 2018 – 0:33

Doha Worlds: Midnight marathon,  mixed 4x400m relay set for debut

Sheikha Asma Al Thani (second left), Director of Marketing and Communications of Doha 2019 World Championships Local Organising Committee (LOC), Sebastian Coe (third left), President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Vice Chairman and Director General of the Doha 2019 LOC and Vice President of the IAAF, Dahlan Al Hamad (fourth left) and Qatari athlete Mariam Farid addressing the media during a press conference held in Doha yesterday. Picture: Salim Matramkot/The Peninsula

By Armstrong Vas I The Peninsula

Doha: A first-ever midnight marathon and a mixed 4×400 metres relay will be the special features of the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, the announced here yesterday.

The competition schedule for the IAAF Worlds was unveiled yesterday with a new format that enables spectators to have an exciting and engaging event experience.

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President of the IAAF, Sebastian Coe, said: “Finding ways to bring the emotion and appeal of athletics to the local community and the region has always been one of Doha’s ambitions for hosting the IAAF World Championships. Both our teams have explored creative ways to meet this ambition, bringing together sport expertise and cultural knowledge in a new and entertaining way.”

“It is exciting to see the way the World Championships are being developed and adapted to the host country and region mixing world class competition with an ambitious entertainment and engagement plan that we hope will delight athletes, spectators and viewers around the world,” Coe said while speaking at a press conference in Doha yesterday.

A revamp to the competition schedule sees all morning sessions removed and split evening sessions introduced for the first time. One-hour intervals will be incorporated into each session to combine entertainment and family-centred activities with the excitement of the competitive action, engaging all ages and interests through athletics,” he said.

“We have some great World Championship firsts as well. The first 4x400m mixed relay will have its global debut ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the first midnight marathon, the evening sessions with semi-finals and finals only and dedicated slots in the timetable for the final stages of field events allowing full focus on the decisive and most thrilling moments and attempts. We are looking forward to seeing how these firsts and the engagement format will come together next year to deliver a World Championships that will look and feel different,” he added.

The spectacular midnight marathon will take place along Doha’s iconic Corniche with the city’s iconic night skyline as a beautiful backdrop, providing stunning imagery for TV’s global audience.

“Lights along the entire route will bring the full marathon to life with spectators enjoying family-friendly activations to give the event a festival atmosphere for athletes and fans alike,” Coe said.

The popularity of night running events has grown considerably over recent years with Doha 2019 embracing the latest trend of the biggest global movement to bring a unique and different element to the World Championships. Organisers will apply experience gained in hosting the world’s first night-time MotoGP race at Lusail International Circuit to ensure a highly successful event that leaves a future legacy for further night road racing and other events around the world,” he added.

Commenting on the World Championships Doha 2019, Vice Chairman and Director General of the Local Organising Committee and Vice President of the IAAF, Dahlan Al Hamad, said: “It is our ambition to organise an innovative, creative and exciting event that inspires and engages new fans, new athletes and new audiences and maximises the full potential of our region’s first-ever IAAF World Championships.”

“We are very excited to unveil, in partnership with the IAAF, the new competition schedule and night marathon format today. These will enable us to showcase the sport like never seen before, capturing the attention of young people in Qatar and around the world and connecting them to the contagious excitement of athletics,”

“Progress is fully on track for Doha 2019 and we look forward to combining our passion for athletics, our experience and knowledge of hosting major athletics events, and our warm hospitality and rich culture to organise a unique, memorable and highly successful World Championships. We cannot wait to welcome the world to Doha in 2019.”

Speaking about the opportunity that the Doha 2019 World Championships will bring, Qatar’s star athlete Mutaz Barshim said: “I am so excited to compete in the IAAF World Championships in front of my home crowd, with my family and friends in the stadium. It is not many athletes that get to experience a special moment like that. However, more importantly I want to create a spark that will later become a legacy. I hope that more young people in Qatar and around the region will be inspired to participate in athletics. This isn’t just about becoming a future World Champion but enjoying the simple fun and excitement of the best sport in the world.”