From international athletes to RW staff, Ironman triathletes to cross-country fans, meet the runners ready to help you achieve your target at this year's Flora London Marathon. Whether you're chasing sub-3:00 or planning a run-walk strategy from start to finish, get up to speed with how our pacing groups work then keep an eye out for these friendly faces at the start.
Sub-3:00 (6:53-minute milers)
At 34 years old, Riel is already a seasoned marathon runner, with 16 marathons behind him, including the five World Majors Marathons in 2008. Riel’s gearing up for the Gobi March – a tough 250K survival race through the Gobi Desert – but is putting this on hold to make sure he sees his RW pace group through under the magical sub-3:00 barrier.
Jari is a former Finnish 5000m and cross-country champion, who estimates he has clocked up a staggering 160,000K in his 36-year running career. He's also a journalist and writer for Runner's World Finland, with years of running wisdom ready to dispense to the runners who join him in London. With an impressive marathon PB of 2:16.11, Jari's looking forward to representing Finland over the marathon distance in this summer's World Veterans Championships. But for now, he'll be leading the 6:53-minute milers to sub-3:00 victory in London.
Sub-3:30 (8-minute milers)
Irish ultra-runner John takes mere marathons in his stride. As well as winning the 100-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Marathon, John has competed in races in some of the world’s toughest spots, from the North Pole to Antarctica, with trips to Mount Everest, the Dead Sea and the stairs of the Empire State Building in between. With a marathon PB of 3:00:30, John has paced London runners in 2006 and 2008 and will return to guide runners round this year’s Flora London Marathon.
A member of Invicta East Kent AC, sports massage practitioner and qualified coach, Tim has been running for almost 30 years, and was inspired to try the marathon distance when local runner Mike Gratton won the London Marathon. Fourteen marathons and a PB of 2:47 later, Tim’s gearing up for another crack at a sub-2:50 marathon this year – but not on April 26.
Sub-4:00 (9-minute milers)
This is Andy’s 15th London Marathon and his seventh as a Runner's World pacer. He’s a keen member of Dulwich Runners in South London and throws himself into running and pops up at cross-country, trail and road events, as well as the occasional Masters track race. Andy’s set up for the team spirit of his pacing group – he often heads to the Green Belt and Welsh Castles relay events as part of a team.
This will be Ros' second year pacing our 9-minute-mile group around the Flora London Marathon. As well as having been a RW pacer for events across the UK since 2002, Ros is also Chair of Dulwich Runners, has a marathon PB of 3:09:35 (2004) and competes regularly at cross-country, road and track fixtures, often at Masters events.
Sub-4:30 (10-minute milers)
After joining RW as senior writer five years ago, Alison has been lucky enough to run around the world at exotic events such as the North Pole Marathon, the Himalayan 100-mile stage race in India and the Himalayan Kingdom Marathon in Bhutan. She set her personal best of 3:16 at the New Orleans Marathon in 2006 but hopes to beat it this year – just not while she's pacing the 10-minute mile group at the London Marathon. This will be Alison's 13th marathon.
Matt finished his first half-marathon at the age of 17, and his first marathon at 18 in London. Since this early start, he’s notched up 15 marathons, and 2009 marks his 10th attempt at the Flora London Marathon course. Matt is just 54 seconds away from a sub-3:00 PB, but this year he’ll be leading runners around at the more sedate pace of sub-4:30.
Sub-5:00 (11-minute milers)
After making his RW pacing debut in 2008, leading the run-walk group to Flora London Marathon success, Andy Collier has returned to pace the 11-minute-mile group to their marathon goal. Over a long running career, Andy has completed countless races including marathons, ultra-marathons and Ironman triathlons. This year, as well as pacing the FLM, Andy is going back to the roots of marathon running in Spartathlon – a non-stop 153-mile race following the route of the original marathon from Athens to Sparta.
Despite describing himself as "a hopeless athlete as a kid", Mike Clyne ran his first marathon at the tender age of 16, and followed this up with his Flora London Marathon debut two years later. Mike has now notched up nine London appearances, with times ranging from 5:21 to 3:55. He also keeps himself entertained with marathons from Luton to New York City, and has completed a whopping nine Ironman triathlons. He loves the Flora London Marathon for its unbeatable atmosphere, and is looking forward to "feeling like the Pied Piper" as he leads his pacing group on their way around the capital.
Get You Round (circa 5:30, run-walk)
Liz started running 10 years ago. Her first race was the 2001 Bupa Great North Run, and the very next year Liz was lining up for her first Flora London Marathon in London, which she finished in 3:52. With seven marathons and a PB of 3:28 under her belt, Liz is an old hand on the RW pacing crew, having taken the run-walk group round London and 9 to 11-minute-mile groups at build-up events over the years.
After taking up jogging at university, Rachel was soon drafted into collegiate sports and three years later ran her first marathon in London. With a debut finishing time of 4:19, Rachel was well and truly hooked. Numerous races and half-marathon campaigns later, Rachel is now focusing on triathlon and gearing up for Ironman Switzerland this July. Ironman success stands and falls on entrants' pacing, so Rachel can't wait to take on FLM this weekend.