Avon Women's Race Berlin 2021 on 15 May 2021

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The “London Crossing“ - Premiere at the 31st real,- BERLIN MARATHON 2004

Our thanks go out to our colleagues at the Flora London Marathon and the police from New Scotland Yard


One thing that is certain to remain constant at the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON is the official distance of the course of 42.195 kilometre – but everything else going on about it is in constant change — for all kinds of reasons. Last year the course was altered and the start and finish were relocated to the Brandenburg Gate, which remained unchanged this year.
But there was an organisational premiere in one detail on the course this year that was a while in making.

Throughout the year the organisers of the real,- BERLIN- MARATHON are of course present at numerous other running events, advertising for the race—and they naturally take a look at the local organisational and technical procedures for these events.

London and New York City are “musts”
The London Marathon and the New York City Marathon are a “must” every year. In London, the Berliners noticed that just about 2 kilometres before the finish at “The Mall“ at Buckingham Palace there were three ground level crossing areas over which the spectators could cross the course to St. James’s Park without disturbing the runners. They crossed without the help of a tunnel or crosswalk—and it was fascinating to watch.

The fenced-off island in the middle of the street
A few Bobbies of the London police assisted by numerous event volunteers led a large block of spectators to the fenced-off island in the middle of the street while the stream of runners continued undisturbed on the other side of the street. When the middle island was filled, the police and helpers redirected the runners to the other side of the street with the help of some street tape, thus closing off one lane and allowing the spectators to cross to the other side.

This procedure has run smoothly for several years, and the amusing announcements by some of the policemen prompting them to cheer on the runners made it work even better. One policeman spoke seriously into his microphone that “you won’t be let over the street until you clap harder and put on a happy face”. It worked!

Massive problems for spectators and participants at the crossing
Last year in Berlin at the 30th real,- BERLIN-MARATHON 2003 there were massive problems for the spectators and participants trying to cross the Pariser Platz – shortly before the finish on “Straße des 17. Juni“. The tunnel passage through the subway station “Unter den Linden“ was closed temporarily due to overcrowding—and for a while practically nothing moved at all.

This year this crossing path was closed entirely due to construction on the “Chancellor Line” of the subway system, the station being closed completely.

A while ago, the organisers of the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON had notified the Berlin police of this method of crossing, and this year the plan was approved to take Berlin officers to the London Marathon to let them see this method working in person. With the assistance of the organisers of the London Marathon, both of the Berlin officers were greeted in the headquarters of the London police, New Scotland Yard, together with representatives from the Berlin Marathon. There they were briefed in details of the planning, execution, and safety measures of the London Marathon.

The race through the big English capital metropolis is a gigantic logistic operation, from Greenwich Park in Blackheath to the finish near the Buckingham Palace – in the middle of the government quarter. The police guests from Berlin were then convinced by the live-demonstration of the London Crossing during the race.

The OK
The procedure of the London Crossing for the movement of participants and spectators from one side of the street to the other without disturbing the flow of the race was given the ok by the Berlin police for its premiere on September 26 at the 31st real,- BERLIN-MARATHON 2004 on Pariser Platz!

Hans-Jürgen Blisch, who led this experiment for crossing the square, put together a good team to carry it out. The police kept a low profile, sceptical at first, but was then quite impressed with its implementation, which took place without any major mishaps.

This premiere at Pariser Platz can certainly be considered a success, even if there is still room for improvement in the future. With the number of people wishing to cross it goes without saying that some lines will form. In London they are used to the wait and take it with humour as they also watch the race.

The marathon organisers are constantly learning from one another and are quick to copy that what assists their own race. One could say: “You can learn a lot from travelling!” The real,- BERLIN-MARATHON would like to express thanks to their colleagues from the Flora London Marathon and the police from New Scotland Yard for the practical lesson and idea for the implementation of the “London Crossing” in Berlin.

Jörg Scheider
camera 4

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