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Apogee’s print on-demand race numbers help cut waste at the Virgin Money London Marathon

Print Solutions

A new print on-demand race number system for all runners registering for the Green Start developed by Apogee proved a hit on its debut at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon.

Until this year, race numbers were pre-printed for all accepted runners and some 10,000 runners do not register for the race (this is why the organisers accept a larger number of runners). The unused pre-printed race numbers and kit bag labels cannot be reused. The new on-demand production of race number and kit bag label at the point of registration eliminated that waste for runners on the Green Start (one of three ‘starts’ at the event).

As official supplier of print and document technology to the Virgin Money London Marathon for the last four years, Apogee has in-depth knowledge of what the organisers need to run the world’s greatest marathon. Every year Apogee provides a vast network of print and document equipment at multiple locations across central London, supported by engineers, drivers and software experts, for the event organisers and the world’s media to use around the clock.

The company worked closely with London Marathon Events Ltd to develop a bespoke scanning and variable data printing system that could deliver a unique, digitally printed race number into the hands of any individual runner less than one minute after scanning their QR code at registration.

Apogee’s Professional Services experts developed this new registration and race number system using Objectif Lune’s Planet Press Suite. Data captured from scanning a runner’s barcode was combined with information from the entry database to create the artwork for that runner’s unique race number.

The number included relevant dynamic identification icons such as the icon to identify runners trialling the new reusable capes on race day. The system also could create additional labels as required, such as a numbered label for a kit bag or an address label for the return of the cape.

‘Apogee’s print on-demand race number system for runners on the Green Start was one of a range of innovations we trialled at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon as part of our aim to dramatically reduce LME’s environmental impact,’ said Hugh Brasher, event director of the Virgin Money London Marathon. ‘The new system performed brilliantly and the team at Apogee has provided a superb service to the event for the last four years.’

‘Our on-demand process minimised the environmental impact and cost of wasted pre-printed bibs and other materials for the Green Start but speed of the process was also critical,’ explained Gary Downey, group marketing director at Apogee. ‘The runner bib plus any other materials had to be created and in the hands of the runner within seconds of scanning their QR code to deal with the thousands of runners going off the Green Start and this is where the new Apogee system excelled!’’

Extensive testing was carried out including stress testing the system and identifying materials that could be used for the race number which were robust enough to endure the physical rigours of 26 miles round the London streets in all weathers.

An Apogee team was on-site throughout race week to ensure all technology ran smoothly, supporting the equipment and the staff operating the registration event. This meticulous planning and proactive management by Apogee allowed the event organisers to focus their attention on delivering the race, to the delight of more than 42,000 runners and millions of spectators on the streets and watching on TV.

Within seconds of the Apogee system scanning a runner’s barcode, their unique race number bib and luggage label was digitally printed and in their hands!

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