World Athletics will tomorrow launch the first phase of its Run Smarter City Challenge, part of a broader campaign to raise awareness about air pollution, tying in with World Environment Day.
The initial four-week challenge, involving running communities in Geneva and Lausanne, concluding on July 5, will encourage each city’s participants to see who can log the most kilometres.
In so doing they will earn their city an air quality monitoring station that will be located in a popular running area.
This will offer those running or walking in future to have access to a live air quality index and regular reports indicating the best time of the day and best days of the week to run, walk and exercise in that area.
The most committed runners or walkers will also win a Plume Labs portable air quality monitoring device which collects data en route.
Distances can be logged through an app provided by project partner Runnin’City, which will also plant a tree for every 100 kilometres logged by Challenge participants.
In 2019 one out of every eight deaths globally resulted from exposure to air pollution – which represents nearly seven million deaths annually.
Due to the large amount of air intake during exercise, runners are especially susceptible to the risks posed by poor air quality.
Since the sport's world governing body launched the Air Quality Project in 2018, it has been working with a number of cities, sporting venues and events around the world to raise awareness and to co-ordinate and act upon data collected from air quality monitors.
"The health and welfare of our athletes - and the more than 1.4 billion people around the world who run regularly - is always our primary concern," said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.
"They expect and demand that from us.
"Which is why the Run Smarter City Challenge is such an important tool for us and our wider running community.
"It gives the runners a direct opportunity to provide tangible support to the World Athletics Air Quality Project whose ultimate goal is to improve the air we all breathe - for runners and non-runners alike."
Tadesse Abraham, Switzerland’s 2018 European marathon silver medallist and an ambassador for the event said: "I fully support the Run Smarter City Challenge and with my participation I would like to raise awareness for this important issue."