Course Measurement

Calibrated bicycle method

AIMS works in partnership with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and together we have adopted the calibrated bicycle method as the only approved method for measuring road races. Accurate course measurement is a basic requirement of AIMS membership so runners can enter an AIMS road race with the full knowledge that the course will be accurate.

World road records

A result of the joint work by AIMS and the IAAF is recognition of world road records from 1 January 2004. The criteria for world records includes strict measurement criteria. As for all AIMS road races, courses must be measured by an accredited AIMS/IAAF Grade A or B measurer using the calibrated bicycle method. Click here for the criteria for world records or here to view the current world record holders. The criteria for world records include elevation change and separation.

These criteria are included to ensure that a course is not excessively downhill or designed in such a way that a tail wind may unduly affect times. Elevation change is measured in terms of the altitude difference between the start and finish. A course must not drop more than 1m/km for it to be eligible for world records. Separation is the distance in a straight line between the start and the finish and is expressed as percentage of the total distance. To be legal for world record purposes, a course must have a separation of not greater than 50 per cent.

Qualifying performances for World Championships & Olympic Games

The IAAF also has strict measurement criteria for courses that can be used for qualifying performances for World Championships and Olympic Games. Courses must be measured by an accredited AIMS/IAAF Grade A or B measurer listed here and the elevation change must be less than 1m/km. Courses with a separation greater than 50 per cent are eligible for qualification purposes. A list of qualifying courses for 2006 is here and for 2007 is here.

AIMS races

All AIMS road races are measured by an accredited AIMS/IAAF Grade A or B measurer but not all satisfy the IAAF criteria for world record or qualifying purposes. If you want to check the elevation change and separation for any AIMS road race, please contact the AIMS Technical Director Gordon Rogers

The Measurement of Road Races

If you want to read more about the calibrated bicycle method, you can download a copy of the IAAF booklet “The Measurement of Road Race Courses”.

By the Book

For a general introduction to principles behind measurement, click here to read the article “By the Book”.