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:
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...
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.
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