Alternating Road and Off-Road Championships and the inclusion of cross country at the Olympics are among the goals in World Athletics’ Strategic Plan for 2020-2023, published today.
A biennial World Athletics Road Championships combining the World Half Marathon, a mass participation race and other elements such as the World Race Walking Team Championships is proposed in the four-year Plan.
A World Athletics Off-Road Championships is proposed for the intervening years, which could combine the World Athletics Cross Country Championships with other disciplines such as trail or mountain running.
World Athletics will also push ahead with efforts to get cross-country into the Winter Olympics.
Following Sunday’s announcement of a new partnership with parkrun, which will attempt to maintain the momentum of those who have boosted exercise levels during lockdown by providing a network of running events associated with World Championship venues, World Athletics makes increasing participation one of its central missions.
"Our overarching vision and the purpose of this Strategic Plan is to grow the whole of our sport," the document, entitled Strategy for Growth, says in its Executive Summary.
"We know that in the short term this will initially be restricted by the social distancing guidelines the world is under but on the other hand, the vital importance of daily exercise in maintaining fitness and health during this time has resulted in many people taking up walking and running and playing simple games involving running, jumping and throwing with their families.
"In many ways, there has never been a better time for us to recognize and build on what our sport can offer, in its purest form."
The introduction states: "World Athletics is often thought of largely in terms of elite track and field.
"However, we are the global governing body for the whole sport, across all its forms and across the entire planet – from competitive and leisure activities for all ages and abilities.
"This strategic plan recognizes that responsibility and embraces the broadest possible definition of our sport: Track and field, Road running, Cross country, Race walking, Mountain and trail running."
According to the plan’s timelines, the "Aggregated Road/Off Road Championships" will be ready to deliver at the start of 2023 and the same timescale is envisaged for the "Inclusion of Cross Country into Olympics."
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