One of the beauties of road racing is its simplicity. Events can be held almost anywhere, there isn’t a need for expensive facilities and they’re easy to host.
Well, not quite.
While road racing is indeed one of the most accessible ways to participate in athletics, the promotion of quality races is not always an easy task. In fact, with a variety of events on offer across the whole of Europe, it is sometimes difficult to determine which races are going to meet the needs of the runners who enter them.
Some runners are happy to participate in races with small numbers of entrants, while others want events that offer a range of additional services, such as pacers for different target times or physiotherapy available on-site.
Whatever the individual runner’s preference, all participants need to feel that their health and safety is assured and that they are participating in a race that covers an accurately measured course.
This is where the European Athletics Quality Road Race standards come in.
After consulting runners, race organisers, member federations and other experts, European Athletics have identified 54 key criteria by which races can be assessed, ranging from how events are administered to the way in which the timing system works.
For full details of the criteria, click here.
The races are then allocated a star rating, depending upon the extent to which they meet the criteria.
Races listed as "1 Star" fulfill guaranteed minimum requirements of safety and security for all participants and are generally for a small number of runners. "3 Star" races offer a good level of safety and include a satisfactory level of services to a larger number of runners, while "5 Star" races offer a high quality experience and a comprehensive range of services.
So, all races that are listed as being part of European Athletics Running for All are certifiably safe, accurately measured and offer a quality-assured experience for all entrants. That means that in entering an event listed as part of the scheme, runners can arrive on race day safe in the knowledge that the only issue that they need to worry about is their own performance.
European Athletics recognises that road running is more popular than ever before and that athletes of all abilities are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding events in which they can participate, whether that be over 5km or the ultra distances.
Whatever a runner’s ability, they need to know that the race that they enter will live up to their expectations, while race organisers need to be able to demonstrate that the experience that they are offering is of a high standard that reflects the time and effort they spend on promoting their events.
Through the standards, European Athletics is able to assist Member Federations in helping to ensure that the events that take place across Europe are able to be categorised and quality assured, which will mitigate the risks to runners.
A Quality Road Race certification allow race organisers to prove that their races really do meet the needs of runners.