Obstacle or Opportunity? Doha's World Championship Marathon to Start at Midnight

By Ewing, Lori | The Canadian Press, May 8, 2018 | Go to article overview

Obstacle or Opportunity? Doha's World Championship Marathon to Start at Midnight


Ewing, Lori, The Canadian Press


Midnight marathon a change for world's best

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TORONTO - Runners will step up to the starting line for the next world championship marathon at a time Canada's best marathoners are already asleep.

Dubbed the "midnight marathon," the 42.195-kilometre race at the 2019 world track and field championships in Doha will be held at midnight in an effort to avoid the sizzling heat in the Persian Gulf state.

Last week's announcement of the world championship schedule prompted an outcry on social media. British marathoner Mara Yamauchi was among critics that took to Twitter, writing: "WC Doha 2019 marathon start at midnight?! I wonder if IAAF a) asked marathon runners' views, b) considered athletes & their welfare, c) considered likely (or unlikely) road-side support in making this decision??"

While track and field schedules often run late into the night, marathons are traditionally held in the morning. Runners are used to rising before the sun does.

"I've looked at a lot of the track runners and wondered how I would ever do it running even at 10 o'clock at night," said Canada's Krista DuChene, bronze medallist in last month's Boston Marathon.

"Obviously it would just take time where you'd have to train your body to get used to that. I think it would struggle initially, just because I'm a high-energy person in the morning. I've got no problem waking up at 4:30, but 9 o'clock at night I'm pretty much in my pyjamas and the day's done. So that would be a big change."

Both DuChene and Canada's Reid Coolsaet, who was ninth at the Boston Marathon, said they likely wouldn't run in Doha. The world championships are at a peak time for Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying, so they'd likely choose a faster fall race such as the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Still, Coolsaet said it would "be cool running in the dark" in Doha.

"I just don't understand why it's not at like 10 p.m. Unless maybe by midnight the roads have actually cooled down, I imagine the sun's so hot there, the heat coming off the roads you'll still feel it hours after the sun goes down," Coolsaet said.

The world championships run Sept. 28 to Oct. 6 of 2019, when temperatures typically see nighttime lows of 22 C to daytime highs of 33 C.

The IAAF scrapped morning sessions for Doha entirely, with all events scheduled for the evening. The 20 and 50-kilometre race walk events have 11:30 p.m. start times, so will run well into the morning hours. Other late events include the final events of the heptathlon and decathlon, starting at 12:05 a.m. for the heptathlon 800 metres, and 12:15 a. …

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