The Doha championship course will feature six laps of seven kilometres each along the iconic Corniche esplanade with the city’s spectacular skyline providing the backdrop.

It’s on this promenade that Qataris celebrate their national holidays and national sports days given its aesthetic appeal.

Doha’s heat means it’s common to have most sports events held at night here, with the most spectacular being MotoGP’s Marlboro Grand Prix of Qatar at the newly-built, $58 million (Sh5.8 billion) Losail International Circuit.

Qatar was the first to host a night MotoGP in 2008 and, 11 years later, will be the inaugural hosts of a night marathon at next year’s IAAF World Championships.

In Hawaii on Sunday, Honolulu Marathon CEO Jim Barahal and his team pulled off another great race where the athletes had to adjust to early timings.

The hotel pick-up was at 3am with elite athletes co-ordinator Patricia Owens mobilising the runners to be at the Ala Moana Beach Park starting line by 3.30am for the 5am start.

These timings meant the athletes had to be meticulous in their warm-ups ahead of the race after an early evening that night which afforded them adequate sleep ahead of the wee hours wake-up call.

While the conditions provided for a spectacular fireworks display at the start of the race, they posed a huge challenge to press photographers who needed to be at their best settings to click any feasible shots of the runners as the blasted off Ala Moana Boulevard along Waikiki Beach for the 42-kilometre journey.

By 7.30am, the elite runners were done, the last of the 27,000-strong field slowly making their way to the finish line 10 hours later.

With athletics struggling to cling onto audiences post-Usain Bolt, such innovation as night races is the best way out, and the IAAF officials have most certainly been scratching their heads and coming up with several fresh competition formats including Qatar’s night marathon.

Last week, IAAF World Athlete of the Year Eliud Kipchoge made another interesting proposal: that marathons be contested between teams, so that, at the end of the season, there are rankings for individual runners and teams, just like Formula One racing does with drivers’ and manufacturers’ rankings.

Kipchoge is part of the NN Running Team, a concept developed by his management company, Global Sports Communications, and financed by Dutch investment services company NN Group N.V.

Besides injecting life into marathon contests, the NN Running Team has offered an ideal platform for sponsors to leverage on their investment in the sport, innovation that will contribute towards making the sport more exciting to follow.

Page 2 of 2