‘I had the pleasure of pacing again at parkrun this week, I've paced on 13 different occasions now and each time I thoroughly enjoy it. I thought I could give a bit of a 'low down' for those that have never paced but would like an insight! People say to me all the time that they couldn't pace out of fear of doing it wrong, or being too fast/slow. *DISCLAIMER* None of us claim to be professional pacers, we are all just volunteering to say we will try our very best to be as 'on time' as we can be! There was 7 different times being paced this week: 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 minutes.
Duties start at 8:30 and I learnt the hard way when I rocked up at 8:45 to a 'jovial' telling off from Paul (ooops!) just as he was about to start the briefing for those that hadn't paced before. Bibs and timing cards (kindly made by Roger that we actually wouldn't be able to pace accurately without), Paul explained that the idea is to run as consistently as possible, whilst reaching each 'check point' at the time on the card, all whilst encouraging those around you.
Huddling in the rain and cold at the start line we all took our positions ready for the 'go'. You can hear murmurings of 'what time is that pacer?', 'I'm going to try and stick with them' and 'I might chase them for a PB' (eeek pressure!!). Announcements made and we're all off, all 433 of us - that's a record number of people at our lovely parkrun by the way. Looking at the card, we're already behind. We're at 20 seconds and not even past the start line (some people don't realise how congested our start line is, so it really does help if you stand in the right time zone at the start) but I know the crowds spread out and we can claw this back, a few seconds at a time at each 'check point'.
There's 3 main check points on the cards; start corner, playground corner and turnaround tree's, as well as an average pace in kilometres or miles. Pacers aim to arrive at each checkpoint around 10ish seconds either side of the time on the card (although the closer the better!), keep a steady pace between checkpoints, be aware of anyone around them and keep talking to anyone who will listen. I check over my shoulder a lot whilst pacing, to make sure anyone hanging on is getting any encouragement they need, particularly on the last lap where we are all tiring. I thank the marshals on the last lap, reminding the runners it’s the last time we'll see that marshal or that landmark!
Coming down by the dog walk for the last time, I tell people around me that I am going to keep a constant pace till the end (you can't do a sprint finish as a pacer!) but that they should all aim to overtake me by the time they cross the line. The amount of people that say they having nothing left yet come flying past you on the last hundred meters is amazing! Crossed the line, (my watch says about 15 seconds too slow but that's ok because there was a flurry of people whizzing past us and I jumped out their way), and there's normally some beaming faces turning round to thank you, that's what makes pacing feel so rewarding. Someone might have achieved a PB, completed their first parkrun, they might have achieved a time they hadn't thought they'd reach again, or they might just be glad to have got round another parkrun. Whatever their reason for being there, I'm always pleased to have encouraged people round (I don't say helped them round, because it’s their legs that carried them round not mine!)
Lastly, I had to ask Roger from some stats because I thought you might be missing some. So, Well Done to the 433 runners who set us a new record amount of runners! There was representatives from 28 clubs, 37 first timers and 38 parkrunner's achieved PB's, all looked after by our 42 lovely volunteers. Oh and to the 21 'unknowns' on the results - next time, don't forget your barcode!’