The Joys of Pacing

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By Tom Perri, Guest Blog Writer

Soon after I completed my first race I decided I received more joy out of running withsomeone or helping someone achieve a goal than when running by myself. Running is basically an individual sport in that you are the only one that can actually accomplish your goal. You are the one that gets yourself to the starting line and you are one that gets yourself to the finish line.

Nothing has brought me more joy in my running career than when I can help anyone finish their first running race. It does not matter if it is a 5K or a marathon—to see the person smile with their accomplishment is an incredible feeling. No matter what that person’s time is on their first race, it will be their Personal Record (PR).

I feel so fortunate as a pacer, to help guide and motivate the runner to complete their individual goal. For some it will be their first race, and others I will be pushing to their limits to do better than the last race, or to set a new PR, or maybe even get that elusive Boston qualifying (BQ) time for the marathon.

I especially like pacing the marathon, as I get a chance to spend a lot of time with my runners. I actually get to “know them” over the time spent running with them. I get to see some runners do something they may have only dreamed of doing—completing their first half or full marathon.

When I paced the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon my first year, I so much enjoyed the “spirit of the event.”  I love to have fun when I run and an event that makes the runners feel welcome and have fun like the Illinois Marathon does greatly helps us pacers as well as the runners.

The part about pacing that is crucial is that the run is about you and that you are having fun. I love making each runner feel like they can accomplish their goal—as I will be their coach, guide, and motivator for some 26.22 miles for the marathon. At the Illinois Marathon I have paced runners from age 11 on up. I treasured pacing Oliver, an 11-year-old when he was running the Illinois Marathon with his mom.

Whatever your reason for running the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, just sign up and be ready to have some fun. You might achieve a goal you never thought possible, or maybe meet a new friend for life, or maybe just accomplish something on your bucket list. Whatever the reason you have for running in Champaign-Urbana on race weekend, just enjoy the experience and have fun.

Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon legacy runner and pacer Tom Perri has been running for over 43 years and is approaching 1,000 career events paced. He is acknowledged as the only runner in the world with over 100K lifetime miles, over 2,000 career races, 50 State Club Sub-4 Hour Marathon finisher, four-time certified 50 State Marathon Club finisher, and Marathon Maniac Titanium, as well as in the Marathon Maniac Hall of Fame.