Anyone with half a knowledge of athletics knows what spikes are; yes, that dangerous footwear which keeps an athlete stuck to the track. In my young days we struggled to keep our footing on treacherous cinders. Now there are better and better surfaces and corresponding improvement in times, but we will come back to that later!
SPIKES is also a new promotional weapon in the fight to win hearts and minds. Both a free magazine and internet site, covering the entire range of athletics, created by the IAAF and UKA in partnership with one of the world’s most famous publishers, Haymarket Network. Spikes is a 2- prong service (magazine and internet) for those who love athletics already and, perhaps more importantly, those who love sport but we want to turn into athletics fans.
SPIKES covers the entire range of Athletics but does it with a unique voice that aims to show the human and fun side of the sport, as well as the hard edged performances. You will find clips of world records, but also off-beat interviews, nutrition tips from the stars and controversial topics discussed by experts. As you would expect, thanks to its connections in the IAAF and their Member Federations, SPIKES has unique access to the World's top athletes, but also wants to reach those just starting to take up the number one Olympic Sport, especially the young, which is why the content and tone needs to be carefully considered.
Subscriptions are increasing daily with well over 15,000 subscribers with over 50,000 copies per edition, and more than 300,000 copies distributed to date. SPIKES was also recently nominated at the most prestigious UK publishing award gala, competing against long established commercial rivals like ELLE and Marie Claire.
Also, stories from SPIKES have been reprinted by The Times, The Guardian, Daily Star, Evening Standard, and SKY Magazine which is another excellent way of promoting our sport. Another important new development this year is that SPIKES will be published in Germany thanks to the support of the ISTAF Golden League meeting and other strategic partnerships in other markets are now being studied.
The production of SPIKES is proof that the sport itself knows it has to change. Athletics is still the major Olympic Sport in the Summer Games on a 4 year cycle and the IAAF does have 213 Member Federations across the globe, but we must be able to evolve with the changing times and remain relevant to young people.
As it happens, athletics was given a great boost at the recent Olympic Games when Usain Bolt showed the world what he could really do, demolishing records that most of us thought could never be beaten. Now the whole world is excited by this genius from Jamaica who, with his unique style is capable of becoming the finest athlete since Jesse Owens.
Recently Bolt paid a visit to Manchester where the organisers of the Great Manchester Run road race took a leaf out of the SPIKES book of change and creativity by constructing a 4 lane 150m Mondo track in the middle of the City centre. Even though it rained hard leading up to the race, 30,000 spectators were ecstatic to watch Bolt roaring down the temporary track to demolish the previous world best for this distance by some margin.
Bolt is someone who has been a cover star of SPIKES and even the steps to his now famous dance from Beijing has been broken down and explained to SPIKES readers!
Athletics has the potential to change itself and the lives of those who take part, but we must continually seek to innovate and inspire a new generation of fans.
If you don’t know SPIKES yet, please check out the website at this link http://www.spikesmag.com or turn the pages of the virtual magazine (.cde format) by clicking here
Adrian Metcalfe OBE