RW Pacing At The Great North Run

We've been pacing groups round UK races since 1998. It's free! Here's how to join us.

Posted: 27 August 2003

What's pacing?

What?! You don't know about our free pacing groups? Then you've never had the luxury of forgetting all about responsibility in a race or training run, and simply following one of the experienced Runner's World pacers to hit your target time.

We take care of the pace estimates and the mile splits; you put in the training and turn up on the day for a great run. The groups vary from sub-three-hour marathon pace to run-walk at most events, so there's one for everyone. All you need is a race number, so make sure you enter the races well in advance (or, in the case of our free training runs, register with us on the web). It's a friendly, flexible arrangement, and you don't have to run with us all the way.

Where do we do it?

We'll have two pace groups at the 2003 Great North Run (below), but traditionally, our pacing teams are geared towards the Flora London Marathon - last year, we had eight pairs of pace leaders there. We build up using a few progressively longer paced races and training runs between February and April.

Pacing at the Great North Run

Last year, the huge crowds made keeping up with our faster pace groups a little tricky, so this year we're going small but perfectly formed, with just two groups:

2:15 Group
Expect the 2:15 group to take over 10 minutes to cross the start line. That's when the pace leader's will start their watches, so the target of 2:15 is from start line to finish line. They'll aim to run at around 9:30 miling. Your trusty pace leaders will be:

Rob Spedding Runner's World's assistant editor, a sickeningly good runner, and excellent company for when the going gets tough. If you need to while away half an hour of the Great North Run, ask him about his recent 'undulating' run in the middle of the Norwegian wilderness. Or why on earth he's holding a duster in this photo...
Neil Tillot One of the many running stars of our advertisement department, Neil plans to be rock-steady on race day. Even if the latest issue of Runner's World cruelly highlights him as the most injury-unsafe candidate in a sample of four lifetime runners...

2:30 Group
The 2:30 group will take well over 15 minutes to cross the start line, and like the 2:15 group they'll be timing themselves from line to line, rather than gun to finish. They will follow the tried and tested Penguin pattern of five minutes running (at around 12-minute miling, depending on who's in the group), one minute walking, to get to the finish line in great shape. Believe us, it works! Your reputable run-walkers will be:

John 'The Penguin' Bingham The saviour of slower runners everywhere, John writes books and the Penguin Chronicles column for Runner's World, and has run-walked more marathons and halfs than most of us will manage in a lifetime.
Nick 'The Publisher' Troop. Runner's World's head of everything was pacing friends round marathons long before our pacing programme began in 1998. Now, his favourite group by far is the run-walk team.

Where to find us
Look out for our Runner's World pacing boards and flags on sticks in the starting pens at the Great North Run. Walk along the edges of the pens until you see us.

Our forums
Chat with other Great North Runners! See the forum threads at the bottom of our GNR race diary listing.

The official site
Here's the offical GNR site

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pace groups

Discuss this article

Hi, I've just read about the pacing groups for the GNR. I started jogging/running in June when I completed my first 5km RFL. I have been working slowly towards completing the GNR this weekend. I have done a couple of sessions with the local running club. They have actually got me running instead of jogging. I jog at about 14min mile (a friend calls it runing on the spot). I don't know how fast I run or how long I can. Should I try to follow the 230 group or just do my own thing. I'm feeling very brave or is it stupid? I've done a couple of jogging 10 milers that took 2'30''. Help I don't know whether to run, jog, set a time or not?
Posted: 17/09/2003 at 22:35

Forget the time, just go out there & do your best & finish. Make sure you enjoy the day & remember you'll have the tea shirt to prove you don't run on the spot!

Good luck
Posted: 17/09/2003 at 22:47

Hi bipbip, Hard to say.

If you're doing 14 m/m (as I used to) you might find the 2:30 group tires you out too soon. On the other hand it might inspire you to up your pace.

On balance, as IBTAD says, I think the best thing is just to aim to get round. Why not try a run-walk, where you run, say, 9 mins and walk 1 min? A lot of people will be doing this (including me at this race).

Have fun

Posted: 17/09/2003 at 23:10

Hi Andy,
It says they will be running for 5 min and walking for 1 min. What do you think?
Posted: 17/09/2003 at 23:19

I'm with IBTAD on this one.
It's a fantastic occasion and the field is so huge that there will be times when you can't really run anyway.
If I was you I would take the time to enjoy every minute (you will, trust me) and wear that T-shirt with pride.
If you want to concentrate on improving your time, I would suggest entering another good half, but maybe one not quite so big as the GNR. I don't know what part of the world you live in, but good, big races with good atmospheres include Plymouth, Exeter, Torbay and Dartmoor Vale.
Enjoy your run on Sunday...

Posted: 18/09/2003 at 12:29

Typical, I've come down with a rotten streaming cold this week, I still want to run on Sunday but don't think I will get under 2.15. Any tips on medication to take or advice besides loads of water? Still looking forward to it though!
Posted: 18/09/2003 at 19:00

I cant wait, Ive been training for 12 weeks, but will always be a run/walker, might start off with the penguin but im not sure if I will stick with him all the way but I aim to keep him in my sights, definatley try to get in under 2:45 but will just enjoy the day as it comes, I might see a few of you around this pacer then!! Im the one with tha Wateraid vest on as thats the charity I am raising cash for

Posted: 18/09/2003 at 19:18

bipbip I too am a slow runner. I managed to get up to 11.5 min miles. however the GNR took 14 min miles but it didnt stop me enjoying it. how did you get on?
Posted: 16/11/2003 at 18:31

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