Gameplan: How pacers guide a 42K marathon finish

Aia Del Mundo
Gameplan: How pacers guide a 42K marathon finish
Running a full marathon is no joke, and these pacers serve to guide runners from gunstart to finish line

MANILA, Philippines – Marathons are becoming more and more popular, with increasing number of participants every year. But running a marathon is no easy feat. It requires a lot of time and dedication in training and in understanding the value of nutrition and pace months prior to the race.

In this year’s Unilab Run United Philippine Marathon, we met a group of experienced runners who volunteered to run with the participants to help them with their pace and guide them with their nutrition throughout the race. Kit Atienza talked about what it’s like to run a marathon from a pacer’s point of view:

“It’s like handholding the person and pushing that person to get the best time and finish the marathon. I think it’s as rewarding as finishing a marathon yourself.”

Pacers’ strategies during a marathon depend on the difficulty of the race’s course and the end time target. As for Kit’s running group, their goal was to finish running 42k in 4 hours and 30 mins.

“For this race we knew that we were going up the Fort. So we agreed to keep it around 6 minutes per kilometer… We knew that we would slow down kapag paakyat na sa The Fort. It’s a really difficult uphill.”

As experienced runners, pacers also know at which point of the race it is vital for runners to take in fluids and carbgels.

“During race day, I take energy gels… Minsan kasi nauubusan ka ng energy eh. Nauubos ka. So, ang tendency is titigil ka. Hindi mo mama-maintain ‘yung pace mo,” Kit says. 

42K finisher Bert Camangonan attests to the benefits of carbgels to runners like him, saying “Malaki ‘yung naitulong sa akin noong [powergel] kasi kapag nakaramdam na ako ng pagod, ‘yun kapag nag-take ako, parang naka-recover agad ako.” 

 When asked why he volunteers as a pacer, Kit answered:

“When you’re racing, it’s you against yourself. The tendency, sometimes, is for you to surrender and start walking. Pero kapag pacer ka and you have a time na tinatry mong habulin, you really have to stick to it because a lot of people are following you, depending on you on the pace,”

“I would definitely do this again, given the chance given the chance and will love to do this again. Next year, I would still volunteer,” he added. –

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