Pace setters suit up for Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon
Setting the pace for any bus at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is no easy feat. That’s why only the best and most experienced runners are chosen to drive the bus home across the finish line on time. And that's why OMTOM partners adidas, Garmin and Runner's World put their weight behind the pace setting team.
Selection duty belongs to Paul Murphy, whose responsibility is to source these masters of time. There are several groups in the Western Province where runners are setting the pace. If they are interested in pace setting the OMTOM, they can put their names forward to "drive" a bus.
“I’m in touch with the leaders of such groups. Once we have runners that are interested to set the pace at the OMTOM, they go through a selection process where we choose people who have the necessary skills and fitness,” says Murphy.
Taking the lead as a bus driver for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is serious business, with many runners relying on their pace setter of preference to get them over the line.
“The pace setters obviously need to run at a given pace for their bus, be it the sub-four, sub-five or sub-six bus, and they need to do so in a way that is comfortable for the runners targeting those time goals. If there are novice pace setters, then we will try and provide them with some kind of training and a pace setter’s manual which has all of the relevant information they will need.”
Calm comes from experience
Courtney Groener, one of the pace setters of the two-hour Half Marathon bus agrees, and adds that good pace setting comes with practice and time.
“I’ve been pacing for about four years now, and I’ve been doing the same two-hour bus the whole time. These days it is quite natural for me to 'drive the bus', but I can say that in the beginning I used to run a lot with watches and was always nervous about timing."
Groener says she doesn’t sign up for the driver’s seat just to finish the race early. “My mom was also a pace setter, and I saw the passion she had for the task; she inspired me to do the same. You get so much joy out of helping other people instead of running your own race; it's a very rewarding experience.”
To run at her best, Groener maintains that she needs the best equipment - shoes and apparel that she feels comfortable and confident in. She is thrilled to be running in adidas, a brand she has been faithful to for some years now. All pace setters will also be using Garmin Forerunner watches that have been sponsored by Garmin .
“I am very excited about the kit for the pace setters. I will be running in the adidas Energy boost and they are very comfortable, they fit like a glove. I’ve been running in adidas since they became an OMTOM sponsor and I have never had a problem, it has been perfect!”
Yet, there is a tricky side to pacing and a pace setter can’t get too sentimental says Groener. Some runners will fall off while others will keep themselves onboard. One thing remains the same though: you have to keep going...
“Throughout the race you will try and motivate people to stay with the bus and you lead from the front. I think over the years you get used to the fact that this is the two-hour bus, and there is a certain pace that needs to be kept. You motivate by constantly talking throughout the race, making jokes, singing, doing everything to keep the engine running.”
Murphy has every confidence in the pace setters for this year’s OMTOM, adding that the various pace busses aren't just for the novice marathon runner.
“Following a pace setter is generally a very wise idea, especially for runners who aren’t experienced in the sport. But, the busses' usefulness extends to those who are also very experienced runners, but may not be familiar with a particular route. These runners will find pace setters and their busses very useful.
Pace setters essentially worry about all the hard work - knowing when to push and when to hold back. You’re in good hands with the 2018 OMTOM crew this year.”