Groundbreaking Joint Venture for Future of Athletics in the UK

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UK Athletics (UKA), The Great Run Company (GRC) and London Marathon Events (LME) today announced the creation of a new joint venture, Athletic Ventures, which is set to transform the future and growth of athletics in the UK and to deliver major athletics events.

Athletic Ventures will deliver the 2026 European Athletics Championships in Birmingham and the annual edition of the Diamond League in the UK. It will also lead the potential bidding process for the World Athletics Championships to return to the UK in 2029.

The new company will also take over the quest to find new commercial partners for athletics in the UK, offering opportunities from grassroots activities to national events and the UK athletics teams at major championships in an innovative ‘playground to podium’ sponsorship programme.

GRC organises The Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon, and an annual programme of running and open water swimming events across the UK. LME organises the London Marathon, the most popular marathon on the planet and the world’s biggest annual one day fundraising event, and RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, in addition to a range of running events and Swim Serpentine.

Jack Buckner, CEO of UKA, said: “This is a groundbreaking model for the development of athletics and for major sports events in the UK and we believe our new partnership, which combines the national governing body with the expertise of London Marathon Events and The Great Run Company, will transform the future of athletics in this country.

“Athletics is the most watched sport at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and millions in the UK will be watching the Diamond League at the London Stadium and hundreds of millions across the globe will be following the action from the stadium in Paris, putting our sport and our great athletes – such as Molly Caudery, Hannah Cockroft, Keely Hodgkinson, Matthew Hudson-Smith and Josh Kerr – front of mind. We pledge to build on this huge opportunity to rejuvenate British athletics, working alongside our Home Country partners, to restore our sport to the popularity of the golden days of the 1980s.”

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of London Marathon Events, said: “More than four decades ago, my father co-founded the London Marathon and Paul’s father created the Great North Run. These events have become the most successful marathon and half marathon in the world and inspired millions of people to become active.

“Combining the sport of athletics, which features the basics of all sports in running jumping and throwing, with the greatest road running events in the world is just the start of this journey. We believe that this partnership will, over time, help deliver even more societal change than our combined events have achieved over the last forty years.

“The entrepreneurial spirit that is at the core of this new partnership has the potential to truly deliver for athletics from the playground to the podium.’’

Paul Foster, CEO of The Great Run Company, said: “The partnership is driven not only by a belief in the sport of athletics, but also the belief that there is real commercial opportunity.

“We’re bringing together the best event organisers in our sport to create a new template for international events. We’re combining world class creative, broadcast and event operations with focused commercial and entrepreneurial vision to develop a brighter future for athletics.

“For the first time, major events will be underwritten by commercial organisations, not the public sector. We firmly believe that this model is the future for major events, and that the Birmingham European Championships will be a huge success for Great Britain, on and off the track.”

Lord Coe, President of World Athletics, said: “This is a very exciting time for our sport. We are attracting viewers in the hundreds of millions for our World Championships and with the Paris Olympics mere months away the interest in athletics will only increase. It is innovation and creative partnerships like this joint venture between The Great Run Company and London Marathon Events – with their impressive track record in road running – combined with UKA’s world class athletes, that will keep pushing our sport forward and make it an attractive proposition for fans and commercial partners alike. We applaud this innovative initiative and eagerly look forward to seeing the promising journey ahead.”

Esther Britten, Head of Major Events at UK Sport, said: “The joint venture with London Marathon Events, Great Run Company and UK Athletics is a great example of collaboration and innovation to support the sustainable long-term health of national governing bodies. We know that building the right partnerships will help our sector’s resilience in event delivery, and we look forward to seeing how this evolves over the coming years.”

Dobromir Karamarinov, President of European Athletics said: “European Athletics applauds the creation of this joint venture, and we look forward to working with Athletic Ventures for the successful delivery of the Birmingham 2026 European Athletics Championships, which is the most important competition in our events portfolio.

“With Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s historic prominence in both world and European athletics as well as hosting successful athletics events including road races, this is a very important step forward in business and competition models for our sport, nevertheless securing that UK Athletics keeps the full authority and independence on its destiny.”