The Ethiopian distance runner Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich were tonight recognised as the male and female recipients of the ‘Best Marathon Runner’ Award for 2019 by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).
Their achievements were given global recognition in the birthplace of the Marathon in Athens, Greece tonight (Friday 8 November 2019) at the seventh annual AIMS Best Marathon Runner (BMR) Gala.
Lelisa and Ruth were chosen by the AIMS Athletes’ Nomination Committee as the outstanding candidates for the Male/Female Best Marathon Runner Awards 2019 based upon their performances.
This is the first time either athlete has been recognised with an AIMS Award.
Lelisa Desisa (29) won the TCS New York City Marathon in November 2018 before becoming the World Champion in the Marathon, winning at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar on 6 October 2019, recording a time of 2:10:40.
Ruth Chepngetich (25) is a Marathon World Champion, winning at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar in a time of 2:32:43. In the past year she also added wins at the Istanbul Marathon, Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon (in 2:17:08 – the second fastest time of the year), Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, Seiryu Half Marathon & the Media Maraton de Bogota.
Lelisa Desisa comments: “Thank you to AIMS, their Members and Partners for presenting me with this award. This is a proud moment in my career.”
Ruth Chepngetich comments: “I am very happy to receive this award in Athens where the sport of marathon running was born. It is a great honour to be recognised in this way.”
AIMS President Paco Borao: “I am very proud to welcome these two excellent athletes to Athens and present them with the Best Marathon Runner Award on behalf of the 473 members of AIMS from 124 countries around the world.”
There were several other Awards presented at the Best Marathon Runner’ Awards Gala.
The Awards and their recipients are as follows:
AIMS Lifetime Achievement Award
The AIMS Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Alain Lunzenfichter, an icon of athletics journalism. Alain (70) held the position of Deputy Editor of L’Equipe in France for 38 years between 1975 and 2013 where he covered 17 Olympic games.
Alain Lunzenfichter – Phto: Photo: Victah Sailer
He also worked with Canal+ in their coverage of athletics, marathons and Olympic games. In 2006 he became President of the ‘World Association of Olympic Journalists’ until 2014 when he was made Honorary President.
Throughout his career he has had many books published and has held many leadership roles within athletics and journalism. He has been appointed to various International Olympic Committee (IOC) commissions including Anti-Doping, IOC Reform, Press, Culture and Communication.
Alain Lunzenfichter comments: “It is an honour to be recognised with the AIMS Lifetime Achievement Award. It has always been a privilege to cover the sport and so many great champions. When I see the previous winners of this Award, I feel greatly humbled to be awarded alongside them. Thank you to AIMS and their Members for presenting me with this Award.”
AIMS President Paco Borao comments: “We are very pleased to welcome Alain to Athens to celebrate his distinguished career. It is said that journalists write the ‘first draft of history’. If this is the case, Alain is responsible for writing large parts of the history of our sport”.
AIMS Green Award
The Xiamen Marathon from China was presented with the AIMS Green Award, becoming the first Chinese race to win the award. The race organisers are demonstrating significant effort regarding climate change, waste reduction and environmental awareness raising. The start and finish of the race is Xiamen International Convention and Exhibition Center accessible by many public transport options which are promoted by the race. Free shuttle buses are provided to runners by the race while shared bicycle parking is provided. In 2019, over 40 thousand people took advantage of public transport options.
Since 2015, the Xiamen Marathon have donated over 130 thousand saplings to be planted, creating the “Xiamen Forest of Love” in cooperation with the project ‘Million Forest’ run by China Green Foundation.
Ruan Dunliang, Vice President of the Xiamen Marathon comments: “We are very proud to be recognised with this very prestigious award by AIMS. We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously. From the year 2020, we will advocate Car-free Day on the race day. Meanwhile, we will continue to build ‘Xiamen Marathon Forest of Love’ and promote the plan of UNEP for cleaning the ocean to reduce environmental pollution.”
Paco Borao, President of AIMS: “I pleased to welcome the Xiamen Marathon to Athens for the Best Marathon Runner Gala on behalf of AIMS Members, Partners and Sponsors. All our Members can look to their example for inspiration in how to host a sustainable event. We would like to thank and congratulate all the member races that submitted their candidateship for the AIMS Green Award.”
AIMS Social Award
The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef was the 2019 recipient of the AIMS Social Award in recognition of their charitable efforts. Since 2010 the Harmony Geneva Marathon has been in partnership with Unicef, supporting the program ‘WASH: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene’ and their Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring access to water sanitation for all. To date the race has raised more than 440,000 Swiss Francs which has financed the installation of 1,000 water pumps in different countries. From 2020, the Harmony Geneva Marathon for UNICEF will support UNICEF Malawi to provide solar water pumps – a reliable, sustainable, user friendly and green technology solution for rural communities.
In addition, the race manages a clothes collection point in the Marathon Village in association with the organisation Bilifou (www.bilifou.ch) to benefit young people in Burkino Faso. This partnership has seen over 1,000kgs of clothes collected. Other activities with disabled people and refugees are managed by the organisation in order to include everyone in the event.
Benjamin Chandelier, Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef Director comments: “The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef has a long and proud history of working together with Unicef to benefit communities in different countries. We have ambitious goals the future and look forward to sharing our story with AIMS. We would like to thank AIMS, their partners and sponsors for presenting us with this award. This event couldn’t take place without our 1,000 volunteers, or the unwavering support of the Canton and City of Geneva as well as Chêne-Bourg who hosted the start of our races and all the villages we cross through on the beautiful course. Finally, I would also like to thank all our partners for their ongoing support and commitment”.
Paco Borao, AIMS President comments: “The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef is a great example of a race helping communities in need. Their successes are clear and their plans are exciting. Everyone at AIMS wishes them every success in the future.”
Peter McLean, Director of Public Relations
Association of International Marathons & Distance Races
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