Runners At This Year’s London Marathon Will Wear Social Distancing Wearables

London Marathon Bump wearable
2018 London Marathon. Image credit: Paul Hudson from United Kingdom via Wikimedia Commons

The 2020 London Marathon is set for 4 October, having been postponed from the traditional April scheduling due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The organizers of the event announced that they will use distance-measuring ‘Bump’ devices to keep roughly 100 athletes safe as they participate in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair races. The 500 members of the staff will also wear Bump, which can monitor the frequency and length of time that runners and staff stay within a set distance of each other as well.

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Developed by a British company called Tharsus, Bump has already been deployed in Ocado, BT and other businesses.

According to the Bump website, the device can be worn around the neck like a lanyard, or clipped onto a piece clothing. It lights up and makes a sound when the user gets too close to someone else.

The London Marathon usually takes over the city, but this year the race will be confined to a course that loops around St James’s Park 19.6 times. There won’t be any spectators, but fans can still keep up via the BBC’s live coverage, according to Report Door.

People wearing wearables around their necks
The device can be worn around the neck like a lanyard, or clipped onto a piece clothing. (Image: Tharsus)

The London Marathon is the first “Major” — a running event classification that includes New York City, Chicago and Berlin, among others — since the Tokyo Marathon on March 1st. London had hoped to hold a mass participation event using the Bump wearables. But the spread of the virus, coupled with the ever-changing restrictions in the UK, have forced the organizers to adopt a similar ‘virtual’ event for amateurs.

More than 45,000 people have signed up to run the first virtual London Marathon this year.

“The response has been amazing and the spirit of the London Marathon will shine brightly across the globe on Sunday 4 October,” Hugh Brasher, event director for the Virgin Money London Marathon, said in a statement.

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“We believe it is the biggest virtual marathon ever staged. It is also the most inclusive race in our history with runners having 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds to complete the 42km.

“We hope that millions will be raised for charities by our participants and we look forward to sharing their stories.”

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Sam Draper
Sam Draper () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies specialized in the field of sports and fitness but also passionated about any new lifestyle gadget on the market. Sam can be contacted at press(at)