Virgin Money London Maraton - A major event with the latest innovations

17. Nov 2021

The marathon season is slowing down now and it’s already been more than a month since we packed our vans and hit the road to London. But what an event it was! Within the large mika:timing team on site there was a special atmosphere of both excitement and relief as the Virgin Money London Marathon returned after 889 days!

The planning for the event started well in advance with a small core team from mika:timing. The closer we got to the event, the more people were involved. And finally it was time for the first crew to load the vans and go through that tunnel. For this year's Virgin Money London Marathon we delivered a wide range of services that stretched from before the race to the last runner crossing the finish line. One of the services we provided was new for the runners and one of the first things they experienced on arrival at the Virgin Money London Marathon Running Show: on demand printing of bib numbers. Therefore the setup on site started more than a week before Marathon Day.

Picking up your bib number is one of the most important steps on the way to the marathon. At this year's Virgin Money London Marathon, 36,000 participants had their bib number printed out oon demand when they collected it – the first time this has been done in London. This is a innovation that everyone benefited from. Participants received their number faster than before, mix-ups were impossible and runners had the flexibility to queue at the next available counter. Any late data changes and corrections, including the information where to pick up their kitbag after the finish, was printed onto the bib. We also provided the bagdrop data capture service which was supported by our digital expo-services via iPads. And environment was a big winner as only the numbers and transponders that were really needed were issued. This saved a lot on consumables. We are proud of this! And when more and more runners found their way to the expo premises it was great to see how smooth the pick-up procedure worked.

At the same time as the runners were visiting the Show, we were busy preparing all the last details for Marathon Day.

Since timing is the core of mika:timing, there was a lot of setup work to do along the course. Whether you just want to finish a marathon or you want to attack your personal best, the timing is a crucial service. That's why we are working with different technical solutions to tackle the diverse needs and expectations. This year we had timing mats for the chips on the bib placed at the start, the finish and every 5k in between. In addition we set up active transponder loops at the Flying400 and the finish line and trackboxes at every single mile split for the elite races. All these systems added up to a total number of 44 timing points.

Another important service that had to be tested before the race was the LED-displays on the lead cars. The Virgin Money London Marathon has always been a fast race. The flat course, the amazing spectators and perfect surroundings create the optimum conditions for world class performances. Our timing services are very important for keeping the elite athletes informed about their current pace in real time via our lead vehicle LED screens. At the same time, the live data for each kilometer and each mile, recorded by our lead vehicle operator, were also shared with live TV broadcasters around the globe.

The Virgin Money London Marathon is one of the greatest marathons in the world attracting the very best of runners. And for the mika:timing crew this was a very special day with an extra level of focus. During the race, the well-oiled machinery worked well. The timing crew was out on the course, the IT-crew were processing the results data and the rest of the staff were focused on tasks like: photo finish camera, the LED-displays on the lead vehicles as well as the results reports to the world’s media. Every member of the team played a hugely important role. And what a race we experienced as we witnessed two imperious victories in perfect race weather conditions. Joyciline Jepkosgei from Kenya claimed the women’s race in 2:17:43 and Sisay Lemma (Ethiopia) won the men’s race in 2:04:01. The Swiss duo of Manuela Schar and Marcel Hug dominated the elite wheelchair races. But the event was far from over when the elite had finished. At mika:timing we continued to work until the evening to make sure that every runner got all their split times and final result. That is our promise to the runners!

And now, after we have had some time to reflect, we are grateful and happy that we could contribute to the return of the London Marathon. And we are definitely looking forward to coming back and doing it all again!

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