Paolo Ottone about the route measuring of Chisinau Marathon and cooperation with AIMS

IMG_3746On January 12, the Italian Paolo Ottone, a representative of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) visited the capital of Moldova in the frame of Chisinau Marathon. The main reason for his arrival to Chisinau is the precise measurement of the marathon route.

AIMS is a member based organisation of more than 400 of the world’s leading distance races from over 120 countries.

At the meeting with the organizers of the Chisinau Marathon, Mr. Ottone mounted the distance measuring system on his bicycle and told the editor, David Lutsyk, about his work, about the AIMS association, revealed the details about the importance of measuring the Marathon route, about the working methods and mutual cooperation with the Sporter team.

IMG_3630David Lutsyk: The first simple question – do you like Chisinau?

Paolo Ottone: Yes, I like this city, but I think that your traffic is very busy. Of course, it is a typical problem for big cities. When I began organizing my first marathon in Prague in 1995, I noticed the same problem in other cities, where I had to hold marathons. In each and every city, dense traffic movement was making up a major problem, like in Bucharest, Milan and other cities.

D.L: Tell me about yourself and your work.

P.O: I started working with sports events in 1992, as a volunteer in the Milan half-marathon. By a happy occasion, I met a girl from the Czech Republic and together we moved to Prague, where I decided to do a completely different job. I met a guy from Italy. In our communication process we figured that we wanted to create something new, totally different from the activities we were engaged then. We discuss the possibilities of holding marathons or other large sporting events. At the end of our mediations we decided to hold the marathons.

We began our first marathon in 1995, and it was crazy, because none of us had any experience in organizing sports events before. But in the first year it was very hard, we traveled to other countries to learn how the sports activities should be organized and promoted.

Then I went to Sydney, Australia, to work at the Olympic Games as a manager of the Czech Olympic Committee. Of course, before that I lived 1,5 year in Australia with a girl I fell in love with, and during that time I was working in the Australian company Adidas. I also worked with the Winter Olympic Games in Turin in 2006 and in Qatar with the Asian Games. I finally returned to my native Italy to suspend my trips. I found my way back home and began working with the marathons and half-marathons, and keep working with these so far. Now my work is counseling, providing assistance in sports events planning and conducting.

IMG_3731D.L: What exactly is the AIMS engaged in?

P.O: I have been a member of the Association for 20 years, since 1995. I was it representative in the Czech Republic, since I have been working in this country, and initially I was in the Great B category, followed by the Great A. The difference between these categories is as follows, – Great A includes work and membership in the Olympic Games, European Championships; these are high level competitions. Great B is, correspondingly, of a lower level.

My job, as the official AIMS representative, is tracks inspection, distance measuring, and verification of all the nuances in the competitions organization. When I have the opportunity, I prepare a report on the mistakes that were made in the organization, to help you eliminate these problems.

D.L: Why is it so important to measure the distance of the marathon route?

P.O: Imagine that a runner must run a distance, a marathon or a half-marathon, and it is important that the race is safe and of high-quality. First of all, the quality of the race is very important. When a runner pays for his participation at the marathon, he expects the exact numbers of distance, not just a distance of about 42 225 m, but accurately eg. 42 295 m. This is the purpose of AIMS, the marathon organizers get in touch with me and ask for my assistance in the track measuring and the event organization in accordance with the rules of the Association .

D.L: How do you measure the distance? What methods do you use?

P.O: We use a measuring system, recognized by the International Association. This mechanical counter, which is mounted on the bike, is usually attached to the front wheel of the bike and makes measurements, as the wheel makes turns through the length of the track, which we reviewed today with representative of the Moldovan Athletics Federation, Ion Frunza. The system works as follows: – we pedal the bike and due to the revolutions the counter starts counting from the lowest number to a maximum of 5000 meters.

IMG_3677Once we have completed the calibration, we measure the distance, then we re-calibrate the meter to make sure that we have passed the exact distance from start to finish, because at the time of measurement temperature fluctuations are possible, which are capable to affect the measurement of the track.

D.L: What did you do with the representative of the Moldovan Athletics Federation, Ion Frunza?

P.O: We have conducted a general track review, have defined the place of start and finish by setting the marks and taking photos. We have identified the turning points, when the participants will be running in circles. After this we have established a calibration course, and after 22:00 made a ride through the track and measured the exact distance of the route.

IMG_3748D.L: I know that you will attend the second Chisinau marathon. What will you do on this day?

P.O: On this day, first of all, I will once again check the race, measured by me, because something may change with time. Mistakes happen sometimes, or the volunteers may not properly define the distance points, and we have to be sure of the distance exacitude at the day of the marathon. And my second task is to check the rest of the services, like Sport Expo, BIBs and starter packs issuing, providing information in different languages, if the volunteers speak the languages that the runners understand, and then I check the number of toilets, if they have enough, the entrance to the starting area, whether there is a distribution of runners by personal time, whether there is security throughout the entire race, whether the police are helping the organizers, check the check-lists and so on.

D.L: What are your expectations from the second Chisinau Marathon?

P.O: I would like to see a decent level of the marathon. I expect good results from the race. Of course, this is only yours second marathon, and everything is still ahead. I hope for an excellent organization in order to avoid big mistakes. Of course, some mistakes you will do, less and less with each consecutive time, because it is impossible to have 100% of the answers to all the questions, because something might happen, which we can not foresee or control.

IMG_3699D.L: What future awaits our marathon? Can we compete with other European marathons?

P.O: One day you will get to this point. In present time, marathons around the world are developing at a very fast pace. It doesn’t matter, whether people are running a marathon, a half-marathon or 10 km, the main thing is to always adhere to the quality of the organization and holding the marathon.

With the development and growth, the quality also improves, and not only the Moldovans, but also the foreigners will participate in the competitions, because it is very important for them to travel and take part in the marathon. It all depends on the quality of the marathon and race. All participants should be treated equally, no matter if he is an African professional runner, winner of the marathon or the last runner of the race. The main thing is to hold the competitions at the highest level.

IMG_3688At the end of the interview, the Sporter team handed Paolo Ottone a small gift in form of the starter package of the first Chisinau Marathon, which includes a sports backpack, a T-shirt and a medal.

In the evening, January 12, Mr. Ottone together with Ion Frunza and the Sporter team, represented by Mariana Manole, have been measuring the track for 1.5 hours, from 22:30 to 00:00. The measurement process was accompanied by the Chisinau traffic police, for which we express our huge gratitude to them.

Chisinau Marathon organizers thank AIMS association, represented by Paolo Ottone, for their cooperation and assistance in the organization of the marathon!

We remind you that the second Chisinau International Marathon will be held on April 17, 2016, in the center of Chisinau at a distance of 42 km, 21 km, 10 km and 3 km. Registration is available online:

David Lutsyk for