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Understanding Marathon as a Race Event in Indian Context: An Analysis of Regulating Authority & Policy Frameworks

Understanding Marathon as a Race Event in Indian Context: An Analysis of Regulating Authority & Policy Frameworks


Introduction. 1

Understanding the Terminology. 2

‘Marathon’ as a Race Event 3

Regulating Authority in India. 3

Sanctioning of Event By AFI 4

Benefits of Sanctioned Events. 4

Information to be Furnished by Organisers for AFI Sanction. 5

AFI Sanction Fee. 5

List Of Sanctioned Marathons in 2020. 6

Conclusion. 6


‘Marathon’ is a town in Greece which in present day is used to refer a race event particularly, 26 miles 385 yards. Marathon as a race event gained worldwide recognition after it was introduced as Olympic athletics program in the Summer Olympics of 1896[1] held in Athens, Greece where 14 nations nations 241 athletes (all males) took part in the games.

With the progress in time, marathon as a race event became popular among athletes resulting in increasing number of aspirants which also resulted in organising of multiple marathon race events in all parts of the world. The recent time has also witnessed that the marathons are being organised in support of a social cause or as charity events[2] or government sponsored[3] events etc. In order to regulate such race events particularly for ensuring safety and security of the participants and maintaining a fair play among them, the national government has developed certain policies and regulations under the authorised departments i.e. Department of Sport under Ministry of Youth and Sports.

This research delves into the topic by understanding the true meaning of the terminology i.e. ‘Marathon’ and further examines the policies implemented in India regulating the marathon race events. After considering all the implemented policies, this research shall check the indicative status of the implementation of the same.


‘Marathon’ is a town in Greece situated in the then north-east administrative region of Attica having a population of 33,423 individuals inhabiting in the municipality of the town.[4] The name “Marathon” comes from the herb fennel, called ‘marathon’ or ‘marathos’ in Ancient Greek,[5]so Marathon literally means “a place full of fennels”.[6] It is believed that the town was originally named so because of an abundance of fennel plants in the area.

This city is known worldwide as the heavily outnumbered Athenian army defeated the Persians in the ‘Battle of Marathon’ which took place in 490 BCE. After the victory, Mr. Pheidippides, a greek warrior from the battle was sent running from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory which was approximately 40 kilometres, which is how the marathon running race was conceived in modern times.

The term ‘Marathon’ as per Black’s Law Dictionary means any race or physical endurance contest.[7] Even though there is a precedent for the distance to be covered under a marathon race event, but in India, ‘marathon’ race events implies to race events of three different categories i.e. 5km, 10km and 21km.[8]


On April 10, 1896, Greek water-carrier Spyridon Louis won the first Olympic marathon in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds. The route between Marathon and Panathenaic Stadium was repeated when Athens hosted the 2004 Games.

The race distance varied from 40 to 42 kilometres in the early editions as it was typically based upon the distance between two points that the organisers felt were suitable. The 1908 London Olympics marked the introduction of the now standard distance of 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 km).[9]However, it was not until the 1924 Paris Olympics that this distance became the standard at the Olympics.[10]


The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is the apex body for running and managing athletics in India and affiliated to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), Asian Athletics Association (AAA) and Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The AFI has 32 affiliated state units across the country while 13 institutional units such as Railways, Coal India etc. The AFI functions in consonance with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affair.

The Federation selects Indian Athletics for various international competitions such as Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, IAAF World Championships and other international meets. Apart for this, the Federation conducts championships for various age groups and various others meets to promote the sports amongst the masses and make the athletics commercially attractive for the further growth of the athletes and sports in general.

Along with the commercial partners and the sponsors, the AFI organizes road race events such as Marathons, Half-Marathon, 10km races and Race Walk events according to the rules and regulations of IAAF.

Organizing a road race event of any distance is a complex undertaking. It requires a great deal of planning, coordination and consideration for many constituencies. A safe and fair competition for participants is paramount, but race organizers must also be cognizant of and responsive to the requirements of the local community, police and public safety officials, press, sponsors and more. Hence, the AFI has submitted a draft policy framework on marathons and road races submitted to the Department of Sports for inviting comments of stakeholders.[11] The salient features of the draft policy is discussed below.


A sanction, also known as a permit, is an official designation issued by AFI, which approves the holding of a race or other athletic competitions. The sanction is also a contract, which requires the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to follow National and International rules and regulations of the sport and to provide a safe environment for participants and spectators.


  • A sanction fro AFI will help to reassure the public that it will be run to the required standards. A sanction tells athletes that an event is being run according to applicable rules.
  • A sanction is required for the ratification of all National and World Records achieved in an event as well as for approval of qualifying performances for World Championships, Olympic Games and other International Competitions. 
  • A sanction reassures everyone concerned that universally accepted rules shall be applied in the conduct of the event.
  • Sanctioned events are included within the AFI website calendar of events.
  • Each year, the IAAF awards a designation referred to as an IAAF Road  Race Label to leading road races around the world. Races should submit to the IAAF an Appliction duly signed by the AFI using appropriate application form for an IAAF Label.


Before a sanction could be granted by AFI to the organizers of road races, it is required to submit a detailed plan by the organizers of the event to the AFI. While depending upon the venue/host-city/nature of the race/number of participants etc. AFI may ask for more detailed information before granting the sanction, following are the very basic guidelines which must be kept in mind by the organizers before applying for AFI sanction-

  1. Health and Safety of Participants: it is the responsibility of the organisers to ensure that the event is conducted in a safe and secured environment. Arrangement of proper medical facilities, first-aid kits, trained medical staff, ambulances, water and refreshments and measures to meet emergency situations concerning health and fitness of the participant is the sole responsibility of the organizers. They will submit a report to AFI in this context.
  2. Age Limit: The AFI sanctioned races are bound to follow the AAF rules and regulations in all aspects. No participant under the age of 18 years is allowed to run in a marathon race according to IAAF guidelines.
  3. Elite Athletes: the decision to let Elite Athletes of India participate or not in any race will be taken by AFI. The AFI sanction does not guarantee participation of its Elite Athletes in any race.
  4. Fair Play: the organizers should ensure that the races are conducted in fair and impartial manner with the sole aim of promoting sports and positive life values associated with the sports.
  5. Doping Control: for all AFI sanctioned races in which Elite Athletes may participate, National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) must be informed and arrangements should be made by the organizers for sample collections by the NADA team in advance by the race organizers.


To obtain a sanction or permit from AFI to conduct a road race event of any nature such as Marathon, Half Marathon, 10 km race, 5km race, 2 km race, Race Walk events, Walkathon, Fun Run or Fun Walk etc. a sanction/permit fee must be paid to the AFI in advance. The AFI sanction/permit fee may vary from one event ot other depending upon the nature of event and requirements. The sanction/permit fee to be charged by the organizers will depend upon the following condition: –

  1. Number of participants,
  2. Classification of the events such as District, State, National or International level event,
  3. Total prize money, and
  4. Entry-fee charged by the organizers/sponsors of the event.

Fees AFI shall charge is as under:

  1. 10% of the total entry fees charged to each competitors including that of mass run,
  2. 10% of the Prize Money paid to the attendees,
  3. 2% of the total charity money collected at the event using AFI Marathon/Road Running platform,
  4. For district level and state level fees vary from Rs. 10,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- to the district or the state association depending on sponsorship available etc. 


Sl. No.NameDateVenue
 Vadodara Marathon05.01.2020Vadodara
 Nashik MVP Marathon05.01.2020Nasik
 Tata Mumbai Marathon 202019.01.2020Mumbai
 Tuffman 24 Hours Stadium Run Chandigarh01.02.2020 02.02.2020Panchkula, Chandigarh
 Amity Gurugram Marathon09.02.2020Gurugram
 Maharashtra Police International Marathon 202009.02.2020Maharashtra
 Tridhaatu Navi Mumbai Half Marathon16.02.2020Mumbai
 IDBI New Delhi Marathon 202023.02.2020New Delhi
 Gurugram Stadium Run01.03.2020Gurugram
 Tuffman Shimla Ultra & Half Marathon Mashobra27.06.2020Shimla and Mashobra
 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon18.10.2020New Delhi
 TCS World 10K Run22.11.2020Bengaluru
 Tata Steel Kolkata 25k20.12.2020Kolkata

Table – 1:  List of sanctioned marathons in 2020


‘Marathon’ as a race event is know more than ‘Marathon’ as a city in Greece. With the progress of time, the marathon race events have gained worldwide attention since its introduction in Olympics 1896. In India, marathons have become quite popular in India as well as it is organized in support of social issues, charity events, government sponsored events etc. This ignites up the need to have a policy developed to regulate the race event in India. Hence, AFI was formed to regulate the same in consonance with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Government of India. The research finds out that the AFI has implemented effective measures ensuring the safety and security of the participants and for conducting the event in a free and fair manner. It is pertinent to mention herein that the AFI has submitted a Draft Policy on Marathons and Road Races to the Department of Sports on 20.02.2018 wherein comments have been received by the relevant stakeholders and is likely to me implemented soon.

[1] Officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, Organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Athens, Greece, from 6 to 15 April 1896.

[2] The 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon raised a record-breaking £66.4 million for charity, setting a new world record for an annual single-day charity fundraising event for an incredible thirteenth successive year” see

[3] The “Run for Unity”, marking the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. See https://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/tag/run-for-unity/

[4] “Απογραφή Πληθυσμού – Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός”Hellenic Statistical Authority (in English)

[5] Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sportatorium, Inc., v. State, Tex.Civ.App., 104 S.W.2d 912, 916; See BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY, 4th Edition, pg. 118. 

[8] CCSCSC in association with Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) organized its Second Half Marathon in three different categories i.e. 5km, 10km and 21 km on 17.11.2019 from 5:00 AM to 8:30 AM where the starting and finishing point was decided to be Vinay Marg Sports Complex, New Delhi. See https://dopt.gov.in/sites/default/files/halfmarathon.pdf. Assessed on 02.08.2020.

[9] Athletics at the 1908 London Summer Games: Men’s Marathon. Sports Reference. Accessed on 02.08.2020.

[10] Athletics at the 1924 Paris Summer Games: Men’s Marathon. Sports Reference. Accessed on 02.08.2020.

[11] Draft Policy Framework on Marathons and Road Races submitted by AFI to Department of Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Available at https://yas.nic.in/sites/default/files/Draft%20Policy.pdf, Accessed on 02.08.2020.


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