Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 168 May 2024 | Page 28


You Take it

Cresting Chappies , 6:45 pacesetters Francois , Magdalene and Monique are still together

From Here

It doesn ’ t matter how many times we get selected to do pacesetting duties at the big races , it is always special . From the moment we apply to pace one of these races , to when we get selected , through the training and planning to the start , the actual pacing of the race , to crossing of the finish line … the whole experience is unreal . But sometimes there is also a tinge of sadness in the race experience . – BY MONIQUE SCUTTE

For this year ’ s Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon , Francois Grobler and I were selected to pace the 6:45 ‘ Comrades Qualifier ’ bus for the second year in a row , and this time we would have Magdaleen Kemp , a Free State-based pacesetter joining us . The three of us did some planning before the race , so we knew exactly what we were going to do , and we were so excited to be part of the large pacing team across the 56km Ultra and 21km Half races , and that we were going to bring the 6:45 bus home .

The vibe at the start was amazing . Thousands upon thousands of runners lining up with their own personal goal in mind ... some wanting to hit a certain goal / target time , some to earn a specific medal , and others just wanting to finish . Our goal as pacesetters is not just to cross the finish line on time , but to run the race according to the pace chart we are provided with , and to motivate the runners around us . So , we fistbumped all around us and off we went !
Things Going Smoothly
The first half of the race was comfortable , and our pace was steady . Francois naturally led the group – and we had a big one – while Maggs and
I co-paced , making sure we stayed on our running pace , announcing every kilometre split , and where we were , and should be , on the pace chart . Magdaleen ’ s pacing flag broke a few kilometres in , thanks to the strong Muizenberg wind , but that didn ’ t faze her and on we went . The time went so quickly , and before we knew it , we were almost halfway , and on our way to Chapman ’ s Peak .
With Francois still leading the group and calling strategic walk breaks , Magdaleen motivating the runners with her Free State jokes , and not just a little help from the spectacular views on Chappies and the cheering spectators all along the route , we successfully conquered our first big climb of the day . The next goal was the marathon mark in Hout Bay . I always say that an ultra-marathon only really starts at the 36km mark . That ’ s when we usually see some people ’ s wheels start falling off , and when the runners around us need extra motivation . That ’ s what we are there for as pacesetters , to help those around us . But let ’ s pause there for a second …
The author earlier in the race , giving progress reports to bus passengers
As pacesetters , we are so focused on our pace chart , our current running pace , our bus passengers , and what our next move must be , that we sometimes ignore our individual race needs , like taking water at each refreshment station , eating when we should , and considering the impact the weather conditions might have on our bodies . The reason for pacing in a team ensures a higher pacing success rate , as we can share responsibilities and reduce the stress of trying to be on time , and if something doesn ’ t go according to plan , we have back-up . In a worst-case scenario , if one
Images : Action Photo SA
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