Cuban sporting royalty in Havana ahead of the city's Run 24-1 event (© organisers)
As we reflect on yesterday’s run around the world, let’s look back at the galaxy of international stars who have supported the IAAF Run 24-1 campaign over the last 23 hours.
From the South Pacific to Kazakhstan to South America, and all points in between, some of the world’s greatest athletes have joined recreational runners and complete novices taking on the challenge of their #FirstMile, to celebrate the joy of running.
Among the Olympic athletics champions who lined up were Rio 5000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot, the city captain in Nairobi, Cameroon’s dual Olympic triple jump gold medallist Francoise Mbango Etone in Yaounde, and Sydney 2000 20km race walk Wang Liping in Beijing.
There were also a quartet of Cuban greats, dual Olympic gold medallist Alberto Juantorena, Moscow 1980 javelin champion Maria Caridad Colon, high jump world record-holder Javier Sotomayor and Beijing Olympic 100m hurdles champion Dayron Robles, who all ran in Havana.
The world champions supporting everyday runners around the world included Copenhagen’s city captain, the former 800m world record-holder Wilson Kipketer, Morocco’s Nezha Bidouane and Abdalaati Iguider in Rabat, Cuba’s 800m star Ana Quirot, and Colombia’s 2011 world 20km race walk champion Luis Fernando Lopez in Bogota.
Other prominent athletes included Japan’s “Citizen Runner”, the 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi, who was the city captain in Tokyo, Olympic triple jumper Zou Zhenxian in Beijing, former Olympic sprinter Adille Sumariwalla (now an IAAF Council member) in New Delhi, Olympic race walker Sandra Lorena Arenas in Bogota and Istanbul’s city captain Halil, Akkas, the former World University Games champion in the 3000m steeplechase.
Four of Fiji’s leading athletes, sprinter Albert Miller Jr, distance runners Rajeshwar Prasad and Stephen Sanday and jumper Eugene Vollmer incorporated the Suva mile into their training for the Pacific Games in July.
Beyond track and field, Cuban triple Olympic volleyball gold medallist Yumika Ruiz joined the throng in Havana, one of Cameroon’s greatest footballers Roger Milla took to the road in Yaounde, and Singapore’s head swimming coach, former world-class freestyler Ang Peng Siong, raced on dry land in his home city.
And in Atlanta, the last stop on our global journey, triple Olympic sprint champion and four-times world champion Gail Devers, served as the city captain.
“I want to thank all our national federations, the cities and the athletes who made this logistically-demanding project possible in its second year,” said IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
“Run 24-1 is unique in the IAAF’s roster of international events in that it allows the entire global running community to come together, from the very elite, to those who had never run a mile before, and share the same experience. Running should be both challenging and exhilarating and I trust that everyone who crossed the finish line yesterday felt a common sense of achievement. I hope even more people will take the chance to join in next year.”