Pacing duties and advice

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Hosted by
Scott Warr

This iteration of our Question of the Week comes from an issue I will be facing soon at Rocky Raccoon 100: pacing someone! All sort of questions are floating around my mind like:

  • What can you possibly talk about for 20…even 40 miles?
  • At what point will me singing “You’re the Best Around” lose its effectiveness?
  • Will I get shanked or disowned if I cramp before my runner does?

And the list goes on. So here is our opportunity to (please!) share your tips for pacing someone and getting them through those difficult last miles of a 100. Additionally, if you have any interesting stories we can all learn from (or laugh at), post them in the reply area!

Join the discussion

5 comments
  • It is important to share as many training miles as you can with the person you are pacing. Nothing like discussing the “pace plan” on the trail ahead of time. Those trail training stories can be brought up during the lows of the main event to get you to the next aid station. The pace plan should discuss how often and what type of food the racer will consume. The pacer needs to remind the racer to eat and drink. Know your racer, does silence mean they are focused or something is wrong. The pacer needs to know whether the racer wants frequent verbal encouragement and talk, or just the company and support.

  • Brad is right on. If you can, share some miles with your pacer. Know their non-verbal (and verbal :)) ques. You should know when you can push them and when to back off. Don Freeman was my pacer at WS100 this past year and he was THE BEST (I think he is for hire if anyone is looking). One of the many things he did for me was to play the eat/walk game with me in the middle of the night. After leaving the aid station, he said that I could walk as long as I was eating (tough to do late in the race)- motivated me to eat!
    On the other hand, I have paced complete strangers through the night on 100 milers. I found it VERY useful to know what their goals were BEFORE the race, know their pace, know their fueling and hydration habits. I found that, as a pacer, I shouldn’t ask too many questions DURING the race. Your runner may be tired and not want to talk. But that shouldn’t stop you from keeping them company with witty anecdotes or entertaining trail stories (possibly from TRN!!)

  • I think pacing is harder work than racing. Not only do you have to run you have to be an “On Trail” motivational speaker, nurse, psychologist, friend, human GPS, portable aid station, a moving drop bag and sometimes provide hospice care.

    I paced @juliefingar at San Diego 100M and carried a bag of Cheetos for her 16 miles. We passed through 3 Aid Stations with a similar bag of Cheetos at each aid station table! She finally decided to eat them and as soon as she bit into one she spit it out and said “I don’t want those” I found revenge with Julie on my next race. 🙂

  • I’m really grateful when my pacer is someone who can keep up a one-sided conversation. I really don’t care what the topic is.And I look for someone who won’t be offended if I ask them to stop talking or change the topic — or who won’t care if II want to listen to music for a bit. I agree knowing the runner’s plan and goals are important, but for me it’s been equally important to know that my pacer is adaptable and won’t be disappointed if the run doesn’t go well and can help me problem solve.

  • I have been lucky with pacing 1000mile buckle award winner Rena Schumann-Lantz and then having a great pacer of my own for two years at WS. First, being a pacer is a great way to learn the sport and what is involved to get to the finish. I used this to actually learn about the race, the course and the history for 7 years before I put my name in the bucket..I just felt that was the best thing to get me to understand and feel that I earned my spot on the line.
    When it came down to pacing Rena on race day..Having run with her during the training seasons it allowed me to know when to push and when to back off..we developed a good trust in things. It kept her on track and for her goals. Additionally the pacer helps review and access the runners physical condition because things do go wrong out there and sometimes you have to be alert and able to help them make hard choices.
    I enjoy running alone but not on race day when a pacer can be used. Select your pacer carefully, it is your race that day. I had a women that wanted to pace me and we met for the first time on states training run from green gate to the finish(she was to pace me from that point, with a friend handing me off to her). Well during that day I learned a lot and actually had to “breakup” with this pacer..it was not going to be a good fit…So I had my first pacer take me in all the way from FH…it was my best race decision. He got me through and kept me going..He knew my goals and put himself out there for me to get the buckle….

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