The Art of Pacing
Why your next long run should be someone else’s race
A runner and his pacer approach Thorp Mountain, mile 84, at the Cascade Crest 100 in Easton, Washington. Photo by Glenn Tachiyama.
One part coach, one part babysitter and one part therapist, pacers can play a crucial role in helping ultrarunners reach the finish line, by keeping them awake, fueled, on course, moving forward and, if possible, in a positive mindset.
For elite runners, a pacer may literally “set the pace.” For the rest of us, a pacer is there to provide company and a psychological boost. In some races, such as the Leadville Trail 100, pacers are permitted to “mule”—that is, carry and provide supplies to their runner between aid stations—though this is not the norm. (Know the race’s official rules ahead of time.)
Here’s a primer to get your pacing career off the ground.