Registrations are now open for the sixteenth edition of the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg, which will take place on Saturday 20 May 2023.
Following the opening of registrations on Thursday 1 September 2022, Chronicle.lu sat down with Erich François, Founder and Managing Director of step by step SA, the organisers of the ING Night Marathon Luxembourg, to discuss the event's organisational challenges and the ideas that have transformed the marathon into an unmissable event in the Grand Duchy.
One of the first things that comes to mind regarding this new edition of the ING Night Marathon is the route. In light of the constantly changing landscape of the City of Luxembourg, much of which is due to the construction of tramlines through the heart of the capital, Mr François confirmed that choosing the route for the marathon was the most challenging organisational aspect due to the fact that the total distance of the route is fixed, at 42,195 metres. Consequently, even small changes of a few metres to one part of the full circuit would mean changes to other parts would be required. Mr François said that he was almost certain that the final route for the 2023 marathon would be different than all the previous editions. Apart from creating a route with a precise distance, getting authorisation from and coordinating with various authorities and organisations is also needed for a final route to be approved. Nonetheless, Mr François affirmed: "Like previous editions, this ING Night Marathon will pass though the various iconic buildings and spectacular views of the city".
Recalling the origins of the ING Night Marathon, Mr François said that back in 2006, Luxembourg was not very involved in sports events. Moreover, there were over 300 marathons per year in Europe and he knew that for an event like a running marathon, "Luxembourg could not be the fastest" in terms of attracting elite runners but "it could be a big party and people can run for the joy of running". He stressed that "the concept worked" and cited this as one of the main reasons for the success of this event.
Within the first hours of registrations opening for the sixteenth edition of the ING Night Marathon on Thursday, there were already over 100 registrations, according to Mr François. In 2022, the ING Night Marathon attracted about 12,000 runners, a decrease of about 4,000 compared to the 2019 edition, in which 16,000 runners participated. The 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to COVID-19-related health measures. Erich François felt that the decrease in participation in the 2022 edition was due to various reasons, mainly the pandemic. He noted that even after the health restrictions were lifted, almost every local club and organisation saw a drop in their membership numbers, which have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. For the 2023 edition, Mr François remains optimistic but at the same time, acknowledged that given the acute inflation, the number of registrations may falter. He noted that 60% to 70% of participating runners come from outside of Luxembourg and many join the event with family and friends. This year, some runners may postpone to save costs, which usually includes hotel stays. Registration for the full marathon costs €64 per person.
Mr François also considered that the increase in teleworking, one of the measures that gained attention during and immediately after the pandemic, has had an effect on teams and group runners from companies. Whilst the drop in the number of people physically present in offices meant that people travelled less, which was in turn good for the environment, group activities like running and training for a marathon were negatively impacted.
Moreover, Mr François confirmed that reaching the nearly 1,300 to 1,500 volunteers needed for the event was becoming increasingly difficult. This was especially true for young volunteers. He said that he felt that "the pandemic has changed the community", with more and more people changing their attitude towards "looking [out] for themselves". To boost volunteer participation as well as to engage local sports clubs and organisations, any such entity with fifteen volunteers at the event can install a booth or stall to sell food and drinks and gain some publicity as well as monetary compensation at the same time. There were 31 stands at the 2022 ING Night Marathon.
On the other hand, Erich François confirmed that there had been no changes in terms of support from sponsors as most of them are under long-term contracts. Similarly, the marathon will continue to raise funds for non-profit organisations, namely SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde and CARE.
Regarding the Roll & Run wheelchair-accessible event, this will be in its fifth edition in 2023 and is supported by volunteers from Special Olympics Luxembourg. Over the years, participation in this event has fluctuated between fifteen and 40 people but Mr François remained hopeful that similar numbers would take part in the upcoming marathon.
To register for the ING Night Marathon 2023, visit: https://www.ing-night-marathon.lu/en.html