5K Reunion: London Marathon Test Event

5K Reunion was a test event run in joint-partnership between The London Marathon and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It took place in May 2021 – shortly after the third UK lockdown – and was a key event in the UK government’s ‘Return to Events’ programme, which analysed whether events could be successfully held during the Covid-19 pandemic. The event, which was originally scheduled for two races over two days, was condensed into a single day following re-schedule.

This would see over 4,000 people attend the site split between the two races.

Crowd Management


Newman Event Services is proud to be a trusted partner of The London Marathon, having supported the company in managing event security at the start area of one of the world’s most famous marathons.

Thanks to this relationship, we were contacted by London Marathon Events who offered us the opportunity to assist on this project.

The extent of our work would be to manage participant and staff entry, as well as spectators present in the grandstands. Initially, we were given less than four weeks notice before the event began, so our experts had to quickly hit the ground running with all preparatory work.

However, unfortunately the race days were postponed shortly before the scheduled date, being pushed back into May.

This led to a change of location to Kempton Racecourse and again required our experts to react quickly and tailor all planning for the new race location.

5K Reunion


With less than a month’s notice, our event security specialists had to act fast. We quickly met with the client, going through all event plans with The London Marathon and reviewing staff availability to ensure we had the resource required. Our team also provided clear, transparent costings to the client. The initial stages were challenging; since there were a lot of ‘unknowns’ with the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of details that would usually be confirmed were a “rough idea” that would be firmed up closer to the time. This meant our staff had to be reactive and flexible, compressing what would typically be nine months of planning into three weeks.

5K Reunion
5K Reunion
5K Reunion

Newman Event Services also worked alongside a traffic management firm, providing assistance wherever required. As part of our own preparation, we conducted extensive risk assessments across the site and created comprehensive crowd management and operational plans. This was to ensure a smooth, consistent service across the site. Our team also prepared detailed briefing documents for our team of highly-trained stewards, ensuring they were aware of event protocols, as well as their role and responsibilities.

The Event: 5K Reunion

The day started early, with pre-arranged covid-safe vehicles picking up our staff from different areas to transport them to the event. This had taken substantial logistical planning but we made it work.

As part of the test programme, the two races would commence under different testing conditions. The first race commenced at 09:00am and required two-metre social distancing between the runners, as well as the spectators. Once the race was completed, the competitors would leave the site and the second group would arrive to race at 11:45am. However, a two-metre social distancing rule would no longer be required. 

The team at Newman Event Services controlled entry for the whole event, ensuring every competitor and member of staff entering had proof of a negative lateral flow test, and for the competitors their race number and correct entry details. Furthermore, we also had to ensure all spectators were registered, complete with their negative lateral flow test results. Although required to do this – and conduct temperature checks – our professional security team gave attendees a warm welcome to ensure a friendly, customer-focused atmosphere at all times.

5K Reunion
Crowd Management Banner

Furthermore, we also had event staff further off-site at the car parks, guiding competitors to the right entrance and advising them to have the correct documents ready before they arrived at check-in to reduce queuing times. 

Every event poses a unique set of challenges and, as crowd management and event security specialists, it is our job to find solutions in a calm, composed and effective manner. On this occasion, as competitors for the second race arrived, participants of the first were still onsite. Our team had to quickly perform a dynamic split of the site, channeling the first wave off-site via a one-way system before the second group came in. This required rapid re-adjustment of staff levels on the entrance to direct the competitors internally via this one-way system, however it was swiftly executed and the client was very happy with our proactivity.

We always seek to go above and beyond to provide our clients with the best level of customer service. On the day, even though it wasn’t within our remit, our eagle-eyed experts picked up on potential problems and quickly reported them to the client, helping to resolve any issues quickly and effectively.

A diligent member of our team found that the toilets in one of the racecourse stands had open access on the other side of the facility into the enclosed section where everyone was accessing the search area. This risked people potentially bypassing the search area and entering the event. Once this was identified, our team manned the area, preventing this from occurring while the client was notified and the racecourse locked the door.

Sometimes, even the smallest of gestures can make a difference, especially for spectators and their memories of an event. As competitors left, every member of our team clapped and cheered the participants. This went down well with the crowd and received positive feedback from the customer. As a business, we are aware that we represent the client and that attendees form an impression based on our service, therefore we always strive to be friendly, professional and presentable at all times.

Post-Event Feedback

The 5K reunion was a successful test event that the team at Newman Event Services thoroughly enjoyed supporting. As a result, we feel our reputation was enhanced and are proud to have been selected as crowd management and event security suppliers for the 2022 London Marathon in October.

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