Pace Groups Etiquette, Demystified

Ever wonder how pace teams form, and what the etiquette is for running with them? Here are answers to the top 5 most commonly asked questions we hear regarding pace groups on race day.

Contributed by Stephanie Laska (@140Lost), Pacer for the 2018 San Francisco Marathon and Nuun Ambassador

The SF Marathon Pacer Groups1. Who can join a pace team? Pacing Teams are for everyone, not just the elites. The San Francisco Marathon offers a variety of pace groups offered at all speed levels for both the First Half and Second Half Marathon, in addition to the Full marathon distance. Speeds range from 6:49 per minute/mile to 12:30 per minute/mile. Pacers help participants run consistently throughout the race, with the goal of finishing the half or full marathon at a desired time goal.

2. Do I have to sign up? There is no sign up and pace groups are free to join. Locate your appropriate pacer at the start of the race and stand next to/nearby that person. Pacers will be spaced out in the starting corrals according to speed. In addition to wearing a bright colored shirt which identifies them as a pacer, they will also carry a sign on top of a stick dictating their expected finish time while running the race.

3. Which pacing group should I join? Pacing groups are organized by expected finish time and average per minute mile running. You can calculate your expected finish time by identifying what pace you’re most comfortable running for your “long runs” and/or your finishing time goal.

4. Do I have to stay with the group? You can run with a pace group for as long, or as little as you like. There is no judgement!

5. Will the pacer stop at water stations or bathrooms? Every pacer approaches their assignment differently. Some pacers plan on walking through water stations while others run through them; other pacers might even take short walking breaks. Feel free to ask your pacer what his or her strategy is for the race, as knowing what to expect will alleviate any anxiety you have about the run ahead of you.

See you on the course!

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