Avoid hitting the wall
One of the pitfalls while running a marathon is that you will run too fast during the first part of the race. You know you’ve trained well, you tapered accordingly a few weeks before race day, and you feel like being on top of the world while waiting in your start corral before the race gun will let you start the race. Once started, you know that you should run slow enough to save energy, but you feel fantastic and you think you will be on your best to perhaps even run a personal record. But then, usually around KM 30 – 32, your legs won’t work anymore and you have no energy left over. You haven no option other then continue walking rather then running and your goal for running your PB is gone….
By joining a pace group from the start of the race, you can prevent lots of easy to make mistakes. You will find a pacing team at most marathons. Those teams will usually have at least two experienced marathoners per target time who will run at an even pace throughout. Due to running such an even pace you will increase your chance to get to the finish within your target time although usually this feels to slow at the start of the race. You will prevent yourself from going out too fast at the start. When doing so you will reserve enough energy for the last part of the race.
At most marathons you will find pacers time: 3:00 3:10 3:15 3:20 3:30 etc. until the slower pace times: 4:45 4:50 5:00. Usually there will be at least two pacers per target time, but sometimes – during larger marathons – as much as three or four pacers for example in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
We are not pacing professional runners
Professional marathon runners also use pacers. However, while professional runners use pacers for the same reasons i.e. to keep the pace, pacers for professional marathoners will commonly stop at the 30 km mark whereas pacers for amateur runners will start and finish the full marathon.