Saturday, October 1, 2011

To Pace or Not to Pace?

Welcome the latest debate in the running world, helped by the fact the IAAF just eradicated world records for women who ran in mixed races. Thankfully Paula Radcliffe still can lay claim to the record, though her "record" time is now two minutes slower than previous.

What about local races? Should runners be paced? Should men pace women? Should men pace men? Should marathons have pace groups?

Jury's still out, obviously, though let me offer two recent examples from my own personal running experience, just to ground the discussion a bit:

*In making a bid for a qualifying time for Boston Marathon 2012, I was offered by a couple of faster friends to help me through my qualifying race. (I'd wrestled this issue before, ultimately said that I wanted the race to be as pristine as possible).

*Earlier this year, I helped a friend (female) run the second part of a half marathon, part of training as she aimed for a full marathon.

The world marathon "record" set at Berlin involved Patrick Makau surrounded by pacers. Thousands of runners in New York this year will be part of organized pace groups. Obviously, even if you're paced, you still have to run the race, and I don't think that undermines the legitimacy of the time.

Fascinating debate over at on the topic, btw.

I do think, however, that pacers interfere with the tactics of the actual race itself (though of course, if there are pacers, you build that into your strategy). It's one of the reasons why I love X/C and trail racing - time goes out the window, and it's all about what you can do against others on the race course.

My own personal decision about not wanting help was essentially selfish: Boston was one of my lifetime goals, and I wanted to do it on my own. There are several good reasons to have pacing, of course - that's why the options exist.

Something to wrestle with, I think. Appreciate any thoughts folk have. Happy trails, and stay dry this weekend.

P.S. Three posts today so far - at this rate, I'll surpass the September output momentarily! (Sarcasm on my writing failures duly noted).

P.P.S. Absolutely no idea what the women's 10K record is in Central Park. Will that be reset? (I'm guessing no, given the response of a lot of national running leaders.)

1 comment:

sassafrasssls said...

I don't see a problem with pacers. As you pointed out, the people still have to run the race. Just from personal experience, I have found that it is harder, almost, to try to run with a pace group than to run the race by myself. A pace group is certainly different than the pacers or rabbits that the elites use but I think that the use of these are still legitimate.