India's first ever Ultra-running Championship, the highly challenging race which is longer than a traditional full marathon, has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic with the events to be held here on July 18 and 19 getting postponed.
Ultra races are contested either over a set distance like 50km, 100km and longer events, or a set time like 6 hours, 24 hours and multi-day events. The International Association of Ultra-runners (IAU) is the world governing body of the discipline. "Due to the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) situation in the India (lock down) and globally, we have taken the decision with the LOC at this time to postpone the 2020 IAU 24 Hours Asia and Oceania Championships to a later date," the IAU said in a statement.
"We are working with the LOC to come up with an appropriate date later this year. Please be ensured that we take the health of our athletes, organizers and federations very seriously and all decisions we take will be based keeping this thought in mind." While the traditional marathon length is 42.195 km, ultra-running is any foot race longer than that. Ultra-running has got attention of the public in the country in recent years, particularly after India won an individual and team medal in the 24-hour Asia and Oceania Championships in Taipei last year.
The IAU said it will give an update on the situation after getting more information from the World Health Organisation and the travel advice for each country. "Health and safety for our athletes and teams are paramount and we shouldn't risk the possibility that our championships might result in the risk of additional infection. This is why we are looking for more suitable date for the event," it said.
The championship, which was to be staged for the first time in India, was to be held under the aegis of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and its long-time associate NEB Sports as the sponsor. Besides this postponed event, the 100 Km Asia and Oceania Championship is also scheduled be held in Bengaluru in 2021. AFI became a member of the IAU in 2017.