London Marathon to introduce social distancing technology

30 Sep 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

The 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon will use social distancing technology to ensure elite athletes and staff stay the required distance apart.

The event, which takes place on Sunday 4th October as an elite event only around London’s St James’s Park, will see all 500 staff and the 100 athletes wear robotics company Tharsus’s Bump devices.

Developed in anticipation of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic would have, Bump is a new system designed to reduce the risk of transmission. It comprises wearable and static devices that use Radio Frequency technology to create a 'Personal Motion System' that immediately alerts wearers when they are getting too close to another person.

The devices will allow marathon organisers to monitor how often and for how long elite athletes and event staff spend within a pre-defined distance of each other. The system will not only make it clear when wearers get too close to one another, but should a wearer test positive for Covid-19 in the two weeks following the event, organisers will be able to trace interactions back to specific wearers and inform them accordingly.

“This weekend’s event is the culmination of months of planning around how to deliver a socially distanced 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon that is safe for all participants and stakeholders,” said Hugh Brasher, Event Director, Virgin Money London Marathon.

“Tharsus’s Bump technology has played an important role, giving our athletes and internal teams extra confidence to engage with the event safely. 

“We have been working with Tharsus for many months and, when we were still hoping to deliver the mass participation event on its usual route, we were planning to supply all participants with the Bump technology in order to hold a socially distanced mass event. It shows how important a role technology can play in the current situation.”

Brian Palmer, CEO of Tharsus Group, said: “With fresh Government restrictions being regularly reintroduced, it’s crucial that we adopt measures where possible that help us convene safely and allow society to retain a sense of normalcy. Despite being behind closed doors, many sports fixtures and events continue to take place, highlighting that the industry is leading the way in using technology to continue operating safely.

“This will not only provide vital support to clubs and organisations suffering a significant impact on their revenue, but will also be a huge boost for national morale. The Virgin Money London Marathon is a foremost example of this; it is a hugely symbolic sporting event and we are delighted to be playing a role in facilitating its delivery in such challenging circumstances.”

Alongside the elite version of the race, a virtual event will see 45,000 runners from across the world take part. Participants will have 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds (from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59 BST) to complete the 26.2 miles and log their attempt on a special app.