Everyone knows him, everyone is afraid of him, and if he catches one, it is not a shame, because the man with the hammer can hit everybody and in the so called “Besenwagen” (sweeper bus), the mood is usually not so bad, as one would expect it. Since the first ever BERLIN-MARATHON it is in use. The journey of the bus begins on Sunday morning, as soon as the last runner has passed the Victory Column, about 300 meters after the start. Usually this is a good half hour after the first athletes crossed the starting line. The bus remains always at the end of the field, as a virtual timeline, which should represent the maximum duration of the street closure.
In total, the runners have to finish the 42,195 k course within 6,5 hours from the first start. As the start procedure can take up to half an hour, runners can consider six hours as the maximum time available to complete the marathon.
The sweeper bus moves in a safe distance behind the last runners and thus limits the number of participants. Participants sometimes have physical problems, so they cannot continue the marathon. Depending on the severity of the problem either the medical team takes care of the athlete or the athlete takes the sweeper bus to get to the finish area.
If a participant is outside the time frame, the sweeper man asks him to either run more quickly, or to use the sidewalk so the streets can be opened for cars again or to get onto the bus. If the runner chooses the last option, he is out of the race, though. This procedure is due to the fact that every event on public roads is limited in time and after a certain time each street has to be opened to traffic again.
The sweeper bus is responsible for ensuring that no runner is using the streets anymore after a certain time - for the benefit of the drivers and to the chagrin of those who are affected. The further the race progresses, the more tragic, of course, if the bus “collected” somebody. Unter den Linden ends the collection of voluntary or involuntary sweep bus passengers. Finally they enjoy, accompanied by appreciative applause of the many spectators in spite of giving up, the ride through the Brandenburg Gate and they are dismissed at the end in the finish area to pick up their belongings.