Great Manchester Run utilises uni crowd science expertise

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The organiser of the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run will utilise the crowd science expertise of Manchester Metropolitan University for the 2019 event.

Thousands are expected to hit the city’s streets for its annual 10K and half marathon event, taking place on Sunday and broadcast live on BBC One, which is being planned with the help of a mathematical algorithm called Start Right. Start Right was developed by Marcel Altenburg, senior lecturer in crowd science at Manchester Metropolitan, and has been deployed at top marathons and long-distance races.

The algorithm crunches 8.6million calculations – everything from the dimensions of the entire course to the locations of water stations and availability of public transport – to let race directors understand at any point on the route how many participants are passing through, and the required level of support.

Being able to appreciate the precise flow and behaviour of the mass of runners in such detail allows the organisers to allocate volunteers, water stations and other resources exactly when and where they are needed, ensuring the event flows smoothly.

Altenburg said: “After we used the algorithm around the world and in the biggest races on the planet, we are thrilled to apply it just down the road at the start of the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run in Portland Street, Manchester. Being involved with this particular race is an excellent opportunity. Manchester can be proud to have such a race.”

Charlie Mussett, event manager at the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run, commented: “Working with the Manchester Met crowd science team has been a great addition to the planning process for the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run. Marcel’s knowledge of the mass running market and the ways that the Start Right flow software has been used around the world opened up a number of new ways for us to look at improvements here in Manchester.

“In a changing city like Manchester there will always be works to pass through or go around and Start Right has allowed us to adapt our flow rates over the line and be confident that we can deliver a great running experience out on course.”