Each year, thousands of elite and amateur runners compete in the London Marathon. Last year, 42,000 people completed the 26.2-mile course that spans across the British capital, with thousands of people lining the streets to lend their support.
The marathon is an opportunity to achieve personal goals and raise millions of dollars for charitable causes.
But running a mass participation event in the era of Coronavirus is impossible and marathons across the globe have been canceled or postponed, much to the disappointment of those who had spent months training and fundraising for their big day in the limelight.
London hopes things will return to normal for the 2021 event but in the meantime, the 40th staging of the event will take place in a secure bubble in St James Park. Just 100 elite athletes will compete in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair races, while 500 members of staff will be on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly.
It’s not business as usual, but London will be the only major marathon taking place anywhere in the world this year.
Naturally, the bubble will be subject to strict social distancing and safety measures to safeguard everyone within. But just to make sure, everyone will be fitted with wearable technology that hopes to minimize the risk of infection.
Organizers have partnered with Tharsus to implement the ‘Bump’ system which alerts users if they are getting close to anyone else in the secure area. Wearable devices use Radio Frequency (RF) technologies to determine proximity to one another and notify the wearer if their distance is not sufficient.
What’s more, the system can identify individual users, meaning it will be possible to inform anyone who has come into close contact with someone who is later diagnosed with Covid-19.
“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 at the London Marathon. Tharsus’ 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.”
Tharsus has tested the technology in workplace environments but believes the potential for Bump in sporting and entertainment contexts is obvious given the current difficulties in getting fans back into stadiums.
It had been hoped that spectators would be allowed back from October, but this has been delayed amid tightened lockdown restrictions in the U.K.
Wearable technologies, along with data analytics platforms and Artificial Intelligence-powered automation, are three of the innovations that the sports industry is placing its hopes on to allow for the safe return of fans and the ability to generate much-needed revenue.