DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Doha organizers are sticking with their plan to hold the marathon at night at the 2019 world athletics championships and will hold test events for athletes to get used to it.
The 2019 worlds are scheduled for late September and early October, when Qatar’s blistering hot summer is tailing off but when daytime temperatures will still hover from 32 to 37 degrees (90 to 100 F).
That raises health concerns for the long-distance race.
But Qatar Athletics Federation president Dahlan al-Hamad said on Thursday that the night marathon in 2019 would also be about “innovation,” something he said athletics needs, and was a big part of Doha’s successful bid last year.
“When we submitted our bidding file to the IAAF council, we had a long discussion, and part of that is the marathon,” al-Hamad said. “And going back and looking to our file, really it says in bold that we need innovation.”
The Qatari capital will hold night races ahead of the worlds “to orientate the international athletes” on how it would work, he said.
The prospect of a night marathon was welcomed by 5,000- and 10,000-meter Olympic and world champion Mo Farah, who said he would likely have retired from track to switch to marathons by 2019.
“If the night marathon is proven as better for us in terms of climate, then why not?” Farah asked. “We’ve got to try something. Sometimes when you look at athletics, how do you make it exciting?”
Like Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, the 2019 worlds will be shifted back to avoid the worst of the desert heat in the middle of the year. Unlike the World Cup, that would help the athletics calendar, outgoing IAAF president Lamine Diack said. He said it would mean the world championships would be the last and main event of the season, and not wedged in between Diamond League meets like now.
The 2019 championships will be at Khalifa International Stadium, one of the venues being renovated for the World Cup three years later.