Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 152 August 2022 | Page 38


Your 2022 Comrades Pacesetters

Joe Faber leading the sub-9:00 bus during the 2019 Comrades Marathon
On Sunday 28 August , the Comrades Marathon will once again take to the roads between Pietermaritzburg and Durban , with thousands of runners tackling the 95th edition of the Ultimate Human Race . The last Comrades was run in 2019 , as the 2020 and 2021 races could not be run due to the COVID pandemic , and so many of the runners will be looking for all the help they can find to make it to the finish , and the official Comrades Marathon Pacesetters will once again be on duty to help get them home on time . – BY SEAN FALCONER

If you ’ ve ever seen one of the Comrades Marathon Pacesetters bring a ‘ bus ’ into the finish of the race , you ’ ll know that singing , dancing , crying , high-fiving , fist-pumping , hugging and kissing are the order of the day . It remains one of the highlights of the race to watch these large groups finishing , and many a spectator and fellow runner has been seen to wipe away a little tear of emotion at the sight of all those happy runners .

These are the only official pacesetting ‘ buses ’ at Comrades , run with the permission of the Comrades Marathon Association . The ‘ bus drivers ’ carry flags with their target time so that runners can easily spot them , hop on the bus of their choice , and rely on the Pacesetter to guide them home on time . The buses have become a huge part of the race , and while some runners complain about the huge groups being difficult to overtake or get past , many more runners love the vibe created in the buses .
11:00 ( Bronze medal cut-off ) and sub-12:00 ( Vic Clapham medal and final cut-off ) buses , but since 2016 more buses have been added . The sub-10:00 bus was added that year , and proved just as popular as the more established buses , but some of the ‘ inbetween ’ buses , such as 10:30 or 11:45 , that were added in 2017 , did sometimes lead to confusion on the road . This was because buses with similar target times would leap-frog each other in the early stages of the race , due to pacesetters using different raceday strategies . To solve that problem , since 2018 all Comrades Pacesetters have been asked to run with a similar strategy .
Tried and Trusted Pacers
The list of 2022 Comrades Pacesetters once again includes some well-known and highly experienced stalwarts of previous years , as well as a few new faces . Most have run regularly with flags in various races around the country in the build-up to this
Comrades , so many runners will already know their pacing style and trust their pacing .
Several important factors were taken into consideration in the selection process of these pacesetters . These included their Comrades record , proving their knowledge and experience of the route and distance , as well as their pacesetting record , proving their consistency and ability to lead a group home .
So , here are your 2022 Comrades Pacesetters , proudly supported by Modern Athlete . Please note that these details were correct at the time of publishing , but late changes are always possible , given the nature of the challenge of the Comrades Marathon . Should there be any changes in the line-up of Pacesetters , Modern Athlete will post updated info on social media , and the provincial pacesetting organisations will also publicise any updates on their platforms .
As per strict ASA rules introduced at the beginning of 2019 , there is a clear difference between ‘ pacing ,’ which benefits contenders for prizes , versus ‘ pacesetting ,’ which is aimed at slower , noncontenders . Pacing is only allowed when officially sanctioned by athletics officials ( national or provincial ), while pacesetting is allowed as long as the race organiser has approved it .
Changing of the Guard
With the blessing of the Comrades Marathon Association , Modern Athlete organised and managed the official Comrades Pacesetters from 2011 to 2019 , and for the last few editions of the race , that was done in close conjunction with the provincial pacesetting organisations , Gauteng Pace Setters ( GPS ), KwaZulu-Natal Pace Setters ( KZNPS ) and Western Province Pace Setters ( WPPS ). This year , the magazine has decided to step back slightly and let the pacesetting organisations run with the project , with Modern Athlete still involved as a media partner , to support and help promote the Comrades Pacesetters .
For many years , Modern Athlete organised just standard sub-9:00 ( Bill Rowan medal cut-off ), sub-
If you would like to know more about becoming a pacesetter , you can contact your nearest pacesetting organisation via their Facebook groups – cimply click the links below to go to the page of your choice :
Gauteng Pace Setters ( GPS ) Western Province Pace Setters ( WPPS ) Kwazulu Natal Pace Setters ( KZNPS )
The vibrant sub-11:00 bus with Pacesetting stalwart Jeff Ramokoka in the driving seat
Images : Action Photo SA
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