Arena Seating goes the extra mile at the London Marathon

Martin Clark, project director at Arena Seating has seen Paula Radcilffe come and go across his 20 plus years of London Marathons. Here he lifts the lid on his experience providing structures and seating for one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.

The disabled viewing platform, along with 360 seats at the start line and 1,500 seats at the finish line are relatively standard project installations for us. The unique element to this was once again the provision of 6m high distance marker towers, at every 1 mile and 5 kilometre interval around the course.

Preparation is key to a successful marathon, and ours begins months ahead. The route passes through 10 local authorities, so we need to apply for 10 different licenses to erect the distance markers around the course.

As many of the athletes pace their run by the mile, we follow the organisers’ plans and plot the route in advance to ensure our markers were positioned at the exact location. At 6m high the towers are positioned on either side of the road, clad in sponsors’ Virgin Money branding and linked by a balloon arch, to allow for the predicted wind loadings we have three tonnes of ballast at the bottom of each tower, standing at circa 2m high.

We installed these markers without road closures, so paid particular diligence to safety while working on busy roads and pavements. Two teams of Arena crew were split into 16 guys and eight trucks either side of the river installing these markers to minimise disruption and meet completion deadlines.

We installed all the 26 one mile markers and eight five kilometre markers before 8pm on the Saturday night and we were straight back in before 7am on raceday to follow the runners around and dismantle the markers as the last runner passes. The dismantling process needed to be quick and seamless so that roads were reopened by 7pm on the Sunday evening, and our race was over (when we all head for the bar!).