Gameplan: How a pacer guides a 21K finish
MANILA, Philippines – As the whole city slept, thousands of runners were already up and ready to start Run United 2. The annual race has longer distances (21k and 32k) to give progressive everyday athletes a physical challenge and a goal to achieve.
While a lot of participants run in groups to keep their pace, Unilab Active Health introduced a more structured system to pacing by designating pacers for specific time goals. "Pacing is a concept that Run United introduced to the runners. It's basically asking more seasoned runners to be able to pace or guide newer runners to be able to hit a certain target or time," said Jeff Lo, one of the 21K pacers.
"The role of a pacer is like a role model. Whenever a runner is about to give up, a pacer would push them, would guide them, at least be there for them, for them to be able to push further and go beyond their limits," he said.
Oftentimes, running is a mental challenge more than a physical one, which is why some participants were very thankful to their pacers for pushing them to finish. "Nakaka-motivate po kasi madami pong kasama. Parang mahihiya ka sa katabi mo na uy teka nahuhuli ka na. Kailangan mo sumabay. Keep the fire burning," said Rodin Jeric Gasil, one of the participants. "Yung last pacer talaga yung nag-push sa akin. Magccramps na ko. Akala ko di ko na kakayaning matapos," said another runner.
More than crossing the finish line, pacers get a different kind of rush in being able to help other runners. "Being a pacer means being able to give back to the running community. I'm very thankful to my friends who were able to push me to finish my first 21K. Sometimes runners just need a little bit of push to exceed themselves," said Jeff. – Rappler.com