Mile Marker competition launch for aspiring architects

Key details

Date: 3rd Sep 2019

Author: SLCT

Type: News

Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and London Marathon Events Ltd are launching a competition for Part 2 architecture students and recent Part 2 graduates from UK universities to design a new mile-marker structure for every one of the 26 miles on the iconic Virgin Money London Marathon course.

This new competition builds on the success of last year’s ground-breaking competition for Part 1 undergraduates and architectural assistants to design the Mile 18 Marker, in honour of Stephen Lawrence.  The chance to create a brand new design of mile-marker for every one of the 26 miles provides a unique opportunity for aspiring architects to inspire thousands of runners and have their work reach an audience of millions worldwide, as well as supporting their learning and helping them to develop materials for their portfolio.

The mile-markers are an integral part of the race, enabling runners to track their distance and time as they complete the world’s greatest marathon. The current scaffold tower structures have been in use for a number of years and the competition is looking for a new design that will need to provide information and inspiration, as well as being sustainable, and easy to install and remove.

The free-to-enter competition was launched on Stephen Lawrence’s birthday (13th September) and applicants will be able to register individually or in teams of up to four.  Stephen was a talented runner who competed in the Mini London Marathon, and he himself aspired to become an architect. The competition complements the Trust’s work supporting young people from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds to enter the career he loved, as well as raising the profile of its wider work supporting young people to enter and succeed in the career of their choice.

The Process

The competition will be held in two stages with the winning individual or team subsequently working to develop their design through to its physical realisation. Teams will receive support through individual feedback and a factory visit to Arena Group, which produces the marathon mile markers, providing a better understanding of the general assembly process of marker structures and the constraints related to the marker design. The winners will have the opportunity to develop their construction design for the mile marker further under the guidance of the Virgin Money London Marathon operations team and Arena Group and will learn the process of turning a proposal into a technical drawing and then into a physical structure.

The winning team’s design will be showcased at the 40th London Marathon on Sunday 26 April 2020. It is the most popular marathon on the planet and annually attracts more than 40,000 runners, 800,000 spectators along the streets and a global TV audience of millions in more than 190 countries across the world.

The 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon will take place on Sunday 26 April, shortly after Stephen Lawrence Day on Wednesday 22 April – a celebration of his life and an opportunity to learn from his story.  The re-designed mile markers will not only be there to inspire the many runners on the day, but in particular those running for Stephen’s Team, who will be raising much needed funds for the Trust.

Applications are now open.

Register your interest by emailing with a copy of your university ID or graduation certificate before 6th October 2019.

The competition brief can be downloaded here.


Applicants must:

  • be studying for their Part 2 or have graduated from Part 2 in the past two years (no earlier than 2017)
  • have studied at a UK university

Though you may enter the competition as an individual, we recommend that you work in a team as during last year’s competition we found that teams found the competition workload more manageable.  We also strongly advise that you consult your university lecturers or the architects at your practice, as you will likely need the help of someone with structural engineering expertise.

We look forward to hearing from you!