As thousands of athletes take part in this weekend’s much anticipated London Marathon, they will all see the genius of two Swindon-based engineers without even knowing it!
Bob Bradley and David Speight of Scaled Ltd, based on the Rushy Platt industrial estate in Swindon, have spent months creating 51 mile markers for the event from recycled plastic, using their large-scale 3D printing facilities and their own problem-solving skills.
In fact the project, which has been almost three years in the making, having been postponed for a year due to the COVID pandemic, led to 14 tonnes of plastic waste being recycled to create new mile markers for the Marathon – and much of that came from waste material from previous London Marathons.
The six-figure contract has been a game-changer for the engineers, who have recently been joined by experienced business executive Alex Marshall, who is the new CEO.
David Speight, co-founder of Scaled, explains how the project came about:
“It was back in 2019 that we took a call from an architectural student about designs for a new mile marker for the London Marathon. The student was part of a team that had entered a competition being run by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (now known as Blueprint For All) to redesign all the marathon mile markers. This followed the success of a previous competition to design mile marker 18.
“In previous years, the mile markers used scaffolding with signage attached, however, these students wanted to explore a more eye-catching, yet sustainable design.
“We took the student team’s concept to see if it could be done and it could! Over time, the concept evolved and once our student partners were announced as the winning team, we bid for replacing all of the mile markers with the new design using entirely recycled plastic.
“The journey has been interesting, we’ve learned so much along the way and we’re so proud of how well the markers have turned out – showcasing our engineering skills and the design of the winning students, especially Chantal Banker and Davina Lyn.”
Each mile marker is made from a combination of 3D printed parts and recycled boards constructed into a distinctive hexagonal pattern. The student team took inspiration from the way in which runners of all abilities and demographics come together in a spirit of unity and togetherness – like bees gathering around the hive.
The markers were revealed publicly for the first time at the traditional Runners Show on Wednesday September 28 prior to the London Marathon itself. However, South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland and Swindon Mayor Abdul Amin both came along for a sneak preview to see the markers before they were collected for the event.
South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland said: “I was thrilled to come along and support the team at Scaled and see the new mile markers which are made out of recycled products. I’m so pleased to support their efforts and their part in such a global international sporting event.”
Swindon Mayor Abdul Amin said: “This company is really putting Swindon on the map by providing these mile markers for one of the Big Six marathon events in the world. Millions of pairs of eyes will be on this engineering achievement on Sunday.”
Each mile marker stands over 3.5m high with prominent sponsor branding and some of them also feature the faces of globally known marathon runners. Many of the markers will have clocks on them so runners can keep abreast of their running times.
The design is modular for easy setup and with pieces that fit together to save space during storage. Over 14 tonnes of recycled plastic has been used in the markers, including plastic from beach cleans, waste from industrial processes and signage from previous athletic events – a high value use of plastic waste.
CEO of Scaled Alex Marshall said: “This has been a brilliant opportunity for us to take something from concept, through engineering design, to manufacturing the end product. We hope now to work with organisers of other large scale events, festivals, concerts and the like to support them with creating signs and other temporary structures which are far more impactful and, importantly, sustainable.
“It is reassuring to know that when the mile markers reach the end of their useful life, they can be recycled again; that feels like a win for the environment.”
For more information about Scaled visit https://scal3d.com