training tips: What is pacemaking all about?
When Wilson Kipsang was beaten in the recent Olomouc half-marathon by his pacer, Geoffrey Ronoh, it probably made more headlines than the win itself. The marathon world record holder was trumped by eight seconds, with his training partner winning in a record time of 1hr 17secs. It certainly caused quite a stir in the running world (although it’s not unique – Google Tom Byers for a brilliant example). But it did make us wonder: who are these pacers and how do they operate? What is a pacer? Pacemakers, also known as rabbits, are runners who lead middle or long distance races. They are employed by race organisers for world record attempts and are given specific instructions regarding lap times. If a competitor chooses to lead the race they are not a pacer – just a front-runner. They can be compared to a lower-status rider on a cycling team, doing the hard climbs and pushing t...