During the 1970s and the 1980s, road-running experienced an extraordinary growth in terms of participants and running events. Even though the runners mainly participated for reasons of well-being and fitness, and less for competition, the world governing body of track and field, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), attempted to govern and profit off the running movement from the end of the 1970s onward. This paper utilizes previously unexamined historical sources such as IAAF Council and Commission minutes to analyze the IAAF’s approach to the road-running movement against the background of elite sport’s increasing commercialization and professionalization at the end of the amateur era. It will be demonstrated that the federation did not understand road-running on its own terms as a mass health-and-fitness movement but approached it as a track-and-field discipline. These misunderstandings led to friction with many road-running stakeholder groups.

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