Great AIMS for marathons in Việt Nam

June 30, 2024 - 08:21
Paco Borao, president of AIMS, speaks with Thanh Nga about the coming congress and the running movement in the country.
Paco Borao, president of AIMS was welcome in Hà Nội in February. Photo courtesy of Diệu Hồng

The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) will organise its 24th World Congress in Hà Nội this November. The congress is expected to welcome hundreds of representatives from athletics federations and associations from countries around the world. Paco Borao, president of AIMS, speaks with Thanh Nga about the coming congress and the running movement in the country

Inner Sanctum: What factors led to the selection of Hà Nội as the host city for the 24th AIMS World Congress?

The whole of Southeast Asia has had an increasing number of AIMS-affiliated races over the last 10 years. Probably because of the logical extended fear of all worldwide organisers in 2020-2023 due to the pandemic, Hà Nội was the only city ready to face the challenge of organising the AIMS Worldwide Congress after the one set in Osaka, Japan, in February 2023.

Inner Sanctum: How does the AIMS World Congress contribute to the development of long-distance running globally?

AIMS has currently 440+ races within 118 different countries worldwide, so the most important event organised by the association has, no doubt, an important echo all around the worldwide running movement, both for organisers and individual runners. On top of these, AIMS communication channels, such as the AIMS website and Distance Running magazine, contribute to expanding the name and the event tied to the Congress hosting organisation.

DHA Việt Nam and AIMS’s MoU signing ceremony to organise the 24th World Congress of AIMS in Hà Nội in November. Photo courtesy of Diệu Hồng

Inner Sanctum: What are the key objectives for the coming congress?

Two of the main overall objectives of AIMS are to “promote marathons and distance races all around the world” and “exchange information and knowledge among members of the Association”, so these are the main focus areas of the whole Congress agenda, on top of the mandatory elections of 50 per cent of Board of Directors members, something done at every Congress.

From the point of view of expansion of knowledge, several external professional speakers will come to enlarge the focus of AIMS Race Directors to help them maintain their objectives of always getting “better and faster” results within their own race events.

Inner Sanctum: Please tell us more about the partnership between AIMS and the Hạ Long Bay Heritage Marathon as the official concluding race of the Congress.

Several things come together at this occasion to enhance Hạ Long Bay Heritage Marathon, on top of the obvious AIMS Congress itself. Việt Nam is one of the countries with the fastest growth rate of marathons and distance races worldwide, with a strong ability to promote this activity tied to an overall tourism strategy. Around the world, tying in sports and tourism has shown great overall results, and Việt Nam is part of that.

Paco Borao, president of AIMS (centre) at a meeting with the Việt Nam Athletics Federation in Hà Nội. Photo HMQ

Inner Sanctum: How will the Congress facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration among international running associations, event organisers, and industry professionals?

The AIMS Congress is not just a one-way transfer of expertise and knowledge, but much more than that. The speakers open up some new ideas, but the real information flow remains at the floor level and through the personal exchange of ideas between race organisers attending the Congress from all continents, making the floor a fountain of ideas and dreams.

Inner Sanctum: How do you envision the impact of hosting the Congress in Việt Nam?

I have no doubt that the areas explored at the Congress will see the flow of information by AIMS through both our website and Distance Running magazine. The international race directors attending will definitely contribute to helping as well the Hạ Long Bay Marathon and DHA organisation. It gives Việt Nam a chance to ensure its running activities are better known within our global marathon community.

Inner Sanctum: What role does AIMS play in promoting sustainability, inclusivity, and social responsibility in marathon events worldwide?

AIMS is a non-profit association “promoting marathon and distance races”, creating a technical-organisation-social mix made to improve the sport-social-touristic mix at a universal level. And, by the way, our overall success makes us feel we are on the right track. And believe us, we will remain in it for the joy of all sporting people.

Runners compete at the Hạ Long Bay Heritage Marathon last year. Photo courtesy of DHA

Inner Sanctum: And what do you think about the marathon movement in Việt Nam?

I strongly believe that the whole team behind the extraordinary marathon and running movements in Việt Nam these past years must be proud of their tasks, and the enormous success they are currently having.

The success shown by the increase in participation in races and new experiences provided by this extraordinary sport only adds to the happiness of people of all ages across the nation. Congratulations, Việt Nam! VNS