A pacer is someone who sets the pace of a runner, or runners, to help them achieve their goal time. His main responsibility is to finish as close as possible to his designated time so that those who avail of his services would achieve their target. Having pacers are optional both for runners and races but QCIM went all out to make this international marathon a “finisher’s marathon”—one that does not set a cutoff time. This is a story of a pacer—this is my story.
I never had prior experience of being an official pacer before, nor do I have a long marathon track record. In fact QCIM was just my second marathon race, the first one during 33rd Milo Marathon Eliminations earlier this year. And I never imagined being a pacer, especially for a marathon.
The rising costs of joining races were taking its toll on my budget, but despite that I was never deterred from joining. When I first heard of QCIM I knew I want to run it, especially that I am a resident of Quezon City and it goes through the road I regularly pass, Commonwealth Ave. When I heard that QCIM was employing volunteer pacers without hesitation I immediately signed up—I get to run the race that I want for free, and I get to be of service to my fellow runners.
Being a first time pacer wanting to do his duty properly I knew I had to pick a pace I’d be comfortable running for 42K. Based on my lone marathon time of 4:47:XX I can sign up for a five hour finish—but that’s not my only consideration. The weekend following QCIM the Subic International Marathon would be held passing along one of my dream route, SCTEX, which I dare not miss. Why pick one when you can choose both? Thus it was settled, a six-hour finish would be my goal—an “easy” pace suitable for beginners and those who don’t want to be spent. I gave my commitment to the time when I realized that it was actually an 8:31/km pace—unchartered territory for me so it would definitely be a run for endurance.
Traffic flow was rerouted very early in the morning along Commonwealth Ave. This spelled trouble for me as I was dependent on public buses which were rerouted far from the starting area in front of the City Hall. Fortunately I was able to alight at the closest possible location near the assembly area, but unfortunately it was about one and a half kilometer away! Because of the distance I had to cover and I was running out of lead time for our pacers’ meet I had no choice but to run—running late literally! By the time I arrived at the assembly area I my sweat were already dripping—a forced warm-up you might say.
There were numerous pacers for QCIM in various finish times for both 42K and 21K. For runners to promptly notice us we wore a different singlet and for our finish times it was stuck onto balloons that we tied to our clothes. If these balloons had helped us by reducing our weights or hindered us aerodynamically with drag I don’t know but one thing is for sure: kids want those balloons!
Finally, the race that many (including myself) had been waiting for was about to start. Five seconds before 4:30AM on my GF405 the race was started. It was either Elliptical Road was very wide or the number of runners was less than anticipated as there was no overcrowding after crossing the starting gate. This is it! The start of the longest marathon race of my life was about to begin. Six hours—that’s a pretty long time to be running.
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