Mother’s Day 2017. A few months ago I had something to ask my wife… is it ok if I run on Mother’s Day? I had been asked by HumanRace to be a pacer and I needed to ask Kirsty’s permission for a green light. As always she supported me, and I picked the shortest distance so it wouldn’t impact on much of the day. The distances were 8.2, 16.2 or 20.2. 8.2 at 8 min miles would only take me 01:05:36, and with an 08:30 start it wouldn’t take up much of the day. Leading up to the event I soon realised that not only did it clash with Mother’s Day, but coincided with the clocks going forward, a really early start to the day.
We made our way to the starting area early as pacers were required to go to a 07:15 briefing. I’m not entirely sure why we had to do this as it lasted less than 5 minutes, so we were just hanging around. I went for a coffee and cake with my family and Phil (fellow pacer).
It was a strange set up for pacers, as there were 2 for each distance at each pace. As the 8.2 and 16.2 started at the same time it meant there were 4 pacers for the first 8 miles, which does seem a little excessive for the field.
We started off and my fellow pacers went off slightly quicker than I did. It’s good to thin the group out, so I let the other 3 go ahead and I dropped back, maintaining an even 8 min mile pace. The only criticism I have of this pacing is that there was only one flag per group, so although we wore tops that said “pacer”, we had nothing to suggest what pace we were running at.
I told people as we ran, encouraged and told everyone what pace we were on for. But it felt different than normal, because unlike the previous 24 times I’ve paced, people could not see what I was pacing.
The course is mostly flat and for a good part follows the Thames path. It has some narrow sections which can become congested, but I like the feel of this type of run. It is more relaxed than most road events, which I like. It is also really different running a non traditional race distance, perfect training run for anyone wanting to move to the next traditional distance. We were surrounded by 8.2 mile runners building up from 10k to half marathon, and 16.2 mile runners preparing for a marathon.
The middle part of the course followed road and become much more narrow. I was less impressed with this part, especially when one marshal shouted at us for going slightly in the road demanding we ran single file. This did not last for long though and soon become a more pleasant course again and all of the other marshals were great as usual.
I was pacing 8 min miles and kept a nice even pace. Averaging 7:58 min miles, so I’m happy with that. There were a few who came to shake my hand at the end, but many more carried on with the 16.2 runners. The course provided water and energy drinks in cups. It was fine for me as I don’t need to drink for 8.2. If I was doing another lap, or racing at full speed, this would always be a negative for me as I prefer drinking out of bottles.
This event is known for its mug, and this is my third. I prefer a medal, but it’s different. One thing this is also known for is it’s awesome goody bag. In my experience it’s only rivalled by Royal Parks Half Marathon, but much better organised at the end as you get it quickly as you cross the line.
Overall I enjoyed the event. HumanRace put on some great events and this is not an exception. I am already targeting Bananaman and Ballbuster again this year. The pacing element could be improved by ensuring the pacers are more visible and identifiable. There were far more pacers than most events, but they were not used effectively.
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