Pacing Groups: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pacing group?

It's an informal group of runners running at a steady pace to reach a target time, led by an experienced Runner's World staff member or colleague.

Who are the pacers?

Experienced Runner's World staff members, writers and helpers.

How do I find you at races?

Look out for the Runner's World stand near race HQ or meet us in the start area according to your target time (faster groups towards the front; slower ones nearer the back - look for our big colourful pacing boards). We have a special page about pace groups at the Virgin London Marathon.

What if I miss you at the start?

The pacers will be running with flags on sticks, which are visible from a distance. Because they will be running at a constant pace, you can estimate where the pacers are expected to be at certain times during the race and aim to join up with them there. In the case of the Virgin London Marathon, if the time you predicted when you applied for the marathon is different from the actual time you want to hit with a pace group, you may find you've been allocated to a different start pen from your pacer. You'll have to go to your allotted pen and aim to meet the pace group as you run.

When will the pacers start their watches? And what paces will they be running at?

At chip-timed races - including the Virgin London Marathon - we will start our watches as we cross the timing mats at the start line, and run at a steady pace from there. For runners who start with us, this will obviously lead to a specific finish time (for example, around 3:28 for the 8-minute-miling group). It will also allow runners who join us partway through to have a clear idea of our pace without having to know exactly when we crossed the start line.

At other races, the paces will be adjusted to reflect time to cross the line - that is, they will be a little quicker than if we started our watches on the line. The pacers aim for a finishing time up to two minutes within their target (eg 1:43 to 1:44 for a sub-1:45 group).

How do I join a pacing group?

If it's at a race, all you need is an official entry and race number for the event. Find links to both of these on our pace event index.