Why a IAAF Gold Label Matters to All Runners

By James Koole

You may have heard that the Ottawa Marathon is an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label race in 2016, joining the Ottawa 10km which was first awarded a Gold Label in 2015. But maybe you thought that didn’t really mean anything to the average, non-elite runner like you.

The IAAF Gold Label signifies to elite runners who may be considering participating that an event is of the highest calibre. That said, all runners whether elite or not, see real tangible benefits when they choose to run these high quality events.

What it means to be Gold

Here’s a few of the IAAF Gold Label standards, with an eye to why the average runner should care:

  • International field – Gold Label events need to have elite runners from five or more different countries. This international aspect brings more excitement to the race and draws media coverage and fans out to cheer both elite and non-elite runners. If you love the fans cheering you on around the course, it’s the elites that bring many of them to the side of the road to watch the race.
  • Elites – speaking of elites, a Gold Label race needs to have a top quality field of elite runners. That means the race needs to feature runners who have gone under 2:10:30 (for men) and 2:28:00 (for women). Again, this brings excitement to the event and brings fans out to cheer.
  • Medical services – the quality and amount of medical services must be appropriate for the number of runners and conditions. While we all hope that nobody has to use medical services during the race, the truth is that for some runners who run into trouble, quality medical services on course can be a matter of life and death. IAAF Gold Label races are well staffed with fully trained medical personnel.
  • A measured and certified course – The last thing you want to find our after your race is that the course wasn’t exactly 42.2km. IAAF Gold Label races are measured and certified. There’s no chance you’ll be running a short or long course.
  • A good quality road surface, and a high quality route – IAAF Gold Label races are run on roads that are in good condition. There won’t be any potholes, cracks or other dangers that could trip you up or cause an ankle turn or a fall. And the course must be of a high quality with fewer twists and turns, and a reasonable amount of challenge.
  • All roads closed to traffic – to qualify for an IAAF Label, the entire course must be free of traffic. Unlike some races where you find yourself running next to a lane of traffic, or worse yet, being held to allow traffic to cross, IAAF Gold Label races have a fully closed course. That’s safer for runners and allows for a far better racing experience for all.
  • Aid stations – there must be an appropriate number of stations, adequately staffed by competent personnel. Gold Label races feature aid stations with high quality volunteers who are well-trained and ready to provide water, electrolyte drinks, gels and sponges to all athletes.
  • Video screen – your friends and spectators can enjoy TV coverage on a large screen while you run your race. A big screen must be provided for those watching the race around the finish.
  • Full video coverage in five countries – speaking of video coverage, IAAF Gold Label races must have live TV or Internet streamed coverage of the full race. That includes making it available in at least five countries. This means your friends and family can tune in and see that you are part of a world-class event. And you can watch the elites who out-ran you to the finish after you run your own marathon.

Run with the world’s best

As you can see, there’s lots of benefit to choosing an IAAF Gold Label race like the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. While there are non-label marathons in many cities, you won’t find a better, safer, more enjoyable experience than one provided by an IAAF Gold Label race.

Running a truly world-class event is special. You’ll be running on the same course, on the same day as some of the best marathon runners in the world. How many other sports let you do that?