Confessions of a Pace Bunny…
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I had an awesome time pacing the BMO Vancouver half marathon last weekend! It was exactly what I had hoped for when I signed up to don the 1:45 bunny ears…personal bests, smiles, “thank you’s”, and sweaty high fives at the finish line! People kept thanking me for volunteering, but I got so much out of it it didn’t really feel like volunteering to me.
On top of the satisfaction of helping people achieve their goals, being a pace bunny is kind of like getting to run a long training run with course, peer, and crowd support, and I got a medal at the end…what training run comes with a medal?!
Obviously being the bunny comes with a certain degree of pressure, people are relying on you to keep a steady pace and get them in on their goal time. For BMO I was a little nervous as I was the only bunny for the 1:45 pace and the worry is the same as with any race, “what if I’m having a bad day?!” (yes, bunny’s have bad days too). For me this was a very real worry given the last time I’d paced the 1:45 group I had a terrible day! It was too hot for me and I felt super nauseous from the start. Luckily for me at that race there were 2 pacers and my partner was feeling great…but on Sunday I had no back up.
Thankfully BMO was not a repeat performance, and I ended up having a great run…perfect temperatures, blue skies, beautiful course and an amazing group of people to run with! The highlight of my day was a gentleman named Patrick who was 56 years old, and told me at about the 5k mark that he had been trying for the past few years to get a 1:45 time. His current PB being 1:47 from a race a few months ago. He stuck by my side the entire race and with about 2k to go he was still able to chat, so at 1k I told him to push it to the finish and he ended up coming in at 1:43:22!! I don’t know who was more excited, him or me! I was honoured to be able to show him what he was capable of and he absolutely made my day!
So if you’ve ever been interested in becoming a pacer, but wonder if you can or how to do it, here are a few things to consider:
– Pick a pace that’s at least 10-15mins slower than your race time (and less if it’s a 10k)
– Use a watch and be familiar with how to move between current pace and average screens as people will likely ask you if you’re on pace and what time you think you’ll finish in
– Make sure you’re able to run fairly even splits (obviously no one is perfect), allowing for slightly faster on the down-hills and slightly slower on the ups
– Run the route or be familiar with the course- it’s nice to be able to tell people what’s coming
– Finally, email the race organizers of the race you’re interested in around 4-6months ahead and ask if they need volunteers to pace! I promise you’ll be happy you did!