Guest Blogger Eric is the Pace Team Coordinator and an SF Marathon Ambassador.

Hello Everyone!! I thought I would pop in and give you some information the pace teams.

For you new runners out there that don’t know what a pace team is and how it can help you reach your goal. Let me give you a quick break down on what a [intlink id=”895″ type=”page”]pace team[/intlink] is and how they work. The pace team is lead by an experienced runner(s) aka pacer that has logged over 100,000 miles. OK, they may have not logged that many miles but they have been running for years and have completed several full/half marathons and have experience leading large groups of runners. The majority of our pacer have paced The San Francisco Marathon more than once, all of them volunteer to pace because they want to give back to the running community and they enjoy helping out their fellow runners.  Anyway, the goal, mission, target, and objective of the pacer are to get the group across the finish line at a specific time. In order for the pacers to do this they will run at an even effort over the course.  Granted there will be times that the pacer will have to run a bit faster or slower in order to account for crowds, hills, or water stops.  A good example of when/why the pacer will adjust their pace is the start of the race when the first mile or so can be a bit crowed or on the Golden Gate Bridge where it gets a bit narrow.

As you already know the goal of the pace teams is to get you across the finish line at a specific time, but did you know that it’s our goal to do the in a +/- 30 second window.  One of the ways that we do this is to provide multiple pacers in many of the groups. This helps to ensure that even if a pacer is having an off day or realllllly needs to use the bathroom, there is someone else there to keep the group on track. Speaking of multiple pacers, this year the 4:00 full marathon pace team will have four pacers (two front, two rear). This will allow for better command and control of the largest pace group……last year there was just over 100 runners in that group alone!

2010 Marathon Pacers at the Finish Line.

Here are a couple of other tidbits that may prove useful….If the crowds around the pace team are too large for your liking you can either pick up your pace briefly, pass the group and keep them behind you or drop back so the bulk of the group is in front of you. Keep in mind that both of these choices have things for you to remember, if you choose to pick up your pace and pass the group, don’t forget to drop back to your desired pace so you don’t burn yourself out and if you choose to drop back keep the pace group in your sights and at a reasonable distance you don’t want to find yourself sprinting to find the pace group and tire yourself out. Don’t forget that you don’t have to stick with the pace group for the entire run. If you are feeling like you want to go faster or slower by all means change your pace……it’s YOUR run not ours; we are just there to help guide you along the way.

One last thing……….as someone that has been on both side of the pace sign I have to throw this out there. Please be mindful of other runners on the course.  If you hear a pace team leader calling out that he/she is going to pass move to the left or right and let them; it’s not going to hurt you to veer to the side briefly. For those of you that are in a pace group don’t take up the whole road, there are other runners on the course that are trying to run their race just like you. There is more than enough room for everyone and no need to get bent over something as trivial as sharing the road.