London Marathon to Use Social-Distancing Technology

Posted by: Watch Athletics

The 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon is working with Tharsus, one of the UK’s most advanced robotics companies, to use its Bump technology system to implement social-distancing during the build-up to and at the elite events on Sunday 4 October.

Tharsus’s Bump devices will be worn by the 100 elite athletes preparing to take part in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair races. Devices will also be worn by 500 members of the Virgin Money London Marathon’s operational team to help maintain the biosecure bubble for the event.

Developed in anticipation of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic would have, Bump is a cutting-edge system designed to help wearers feel safe, inform effective social-distancing behaviour and thus reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. It comprises wearable and static devices that use sophisticated Radio Frequency (RF) technology to create a 'Personal Motion System' that immediately alerts wearers when they are getting too close to another person.

The Bump devices will allow marathon organisers to accurately 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.

Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: “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. 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.”

Due to restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 event will feature elite-only races taking place in a biosecure bubble in St James’s Park. A virtual version of The 40th Race will see 45,000 runners from across the UK and the world run the Virgin Money London Marathon their way. 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, which they can choose to run, walk or jog – making the event the most inclusive London Marathon ever.

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