Opinion Poll on Race Pacing

I need some help from my readers. I am currently involved in a discussion on race pacing, and need some input. Please, please answer the following questions to help…

1. Have you ever used a pace group in a Half or Full Marathon?

2. For large races with thousands of runners I know they can offer many pace teams at a variety of speeds/finishing times. My questions to you is, what do you think are the most important paces to offer would be runners in a Half and Full in a small race environment of 1,000 runners?

I know opinions will be all over the board, but I am just looking for some differing opinions, and what better way than to ask the readers of my blog.

Thanks for your help!


11 thoughts on “Opinion Poll on Race Pacing

  1. 1) Yes. But in none of the cases has it been successful. Half (Richmond): pacer dropped sign, couldn’t find her again. Full (Shamrock): Pacer ran 15sec faster per mi for 1st 16 miles (apparently to bank time), blew apart the group, finishing on time but by himself.

    I recently ran at Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA and ran between two pace groups but talked to the one behind me at the start and had investigated how they did it in case I wanted to run with a pace group.

    2) For full – BQ times (b great if men’s AND women’s times)
    For half – 2:30, 2:15, 2:00, 1:50, 1:40, 1:30 (could also see 1:45 group)

    More on pacers though you didn’t ask šŸ™‚
    Pacers should:
    -be available to meet ahead of time if possible (or have photos at expo w/ first name)
    -be in the corral 10-15 min ahead of start to talk to their group
    -explain pre-race how they will handle water stops (run thru, walk thru, speed up before, speed up after)
    -explain pre-race if they’re going for even pace or even effort if hills involved or other factors like sections of course that are windy (warn the runners!)
    -be able to consistently come in a minute-ish under the time (Baystate was 60-75 sec under as target)
    -be identifiable by sign/balloon they carry AND special shirt (Baystate Marathon pacers had bright orange shirts w all target mile splits printed on back, amazing!!)

    For full marathons, esp those with many runners wanting to BQ, suggest multiple pacers for same group. Start with one, pick up a second at a later mile, first drops out at some point. Baystate group picked up 2nd pacer around half, first dropped ~16. Can have more than 2 depending on course – some people better at hills, other factors. Keeps them fresh and consistent.

    I highly rec talking to the Baystate org (they are all volunteers, mostly runners) about their setup. Think they had pacers for the half too.

    Good luck!

  2. I haven’t run the whole way with a pacer, but towards the end of a race I saw a pacer up ahead and stuck with her for the last 4kms of the half. I found it really helpful. And she was so positive and full of encouragement to everyone. I would love to try to run the whole way with a pacer one time.

  3. 1.) No, but I have only run one race that had pacers. If I run the Charleston Half in January I will probably run with the 1:45 pacer or consider that.

    2.) Half: 1:45, 2, 2:15, 2:30
    Full: 3:30, 3:45, 4, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45, 5

    I think if there was interest, maybe the event should have some pacers slower than that. But with 1,000 runners, it’s a pretty small race anyway. The faster runners might consider pacers but probably wouldn’t care if you didn’t have them. I know if I did a race and they started with a 2 hour pacer and had no 1:45, I wouldn’t be super disappointed or anything.

    • Thanks for your input. It has been quite the discussion tonight. BQ pace times are pretty important in a Full. As is 3:45 and sub 4. I think plenty line up for a 3:59:59 Full.

      • I also think BQ times are really important in a full, like a 3:30 full (since so many of us ladies have that 3:35 BQ time). But for a smaller marathon, it is also hard to find a pacer for the speedy BQ times. One of the times for Charleston had to get 2 guys to split it up, one pacing the first half and another for the second.

      • Yes, I have heard that a bunch, when two pacers have to split up the duties. Sucks though for them, because neither would get an official finishing time.

  4. Hi Paul,

    Generally, I have not used a pace group. I probably should knowing how I tend to race: go out too fast and crash and burn at the end. Lately, I use the pace groups as a guide. If I know I am going to finish a marathon in 4:15, I’ll know not to go past the 4 hour guy and if I see the 4:30 pacer, then I know I am in trouble. In general, though I’ve stuck with the groups for a few miles, but I like to go at my own pace.

    Hard to say what a 1000 person race should have. For a Half, I could see 1:30 and then 15 minutes increments. For a full, 3 hours with every 20 minutes. All depends how many pacers you can find.

    Glad to see you are racing well.


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