KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Running a marathon isn’t an easy task, especially if you’re trying to break your own personal record or qualify for another big race like the Boston Marathon.
However, there are a few people that will be at the Knoxville Covenant Health Marathon this weekend that will try to make it a little easier to “keep up the pace.”
Terry Higgins is a statistics teacher by trade but a marathon runner in his free time.
“A pacer is someone who agrees to run the race at a particular pace so that they’ll finish at a certain time,” he explained.
Higgins’ first marathon was 25 years ago.
“One of my friends said, ‘Hey I’m going to come visit; do you want to run an 8k with me?’ And I was like, ‘Well, what’s an 8k?’And I figured out that that was about 5 miles and I figured if I was going to run this 8k with him, I better do a little bit of running, and then on race day, at about a mile in the race, I was like, this is awesome.”
Higgins said when he first started, he didn’t really know what he was doing. He just loved the sport. However, as he got more familiar with marathons, he started volunteering to help. That’s when he was asked to become a pacer for the Knoxville Marathon.
“A pacer has agreed to say, well I can run and finish the race at a particular time at a pace that is comfortable for them,” Higgins said.
Higgins has been a pacer for several years for the Knoxville Marathon.
He adds, “when we’re out there we’re there to provide entertainment, strategy, and sometimes just the motivation of being out there when you’re running with someone, you know for some reason, it just feels a little easier.”
This year he’s in charge of organizing the other pacers and making sure everyone runs the race at their designated times.
“We have a little cheat sheet that tells us at mile 16 you should be at this time, and we can gauge whether or not we are either ahead or behind on our pace. Usually, we try to be within 15 seconds or so.”
Higgins said all his runners will be carrying flags that have their pace and finishing times on them to make it easier for other runners to spot them.
“We do the thinking so that the runners don’t have to,” Higgins stated.
So, if you’re looking for a running partner that you can keep up with, you can count on Higgins and his pacers to keep up the pace.
On April 1, the pacer runners will have a booth at the marathon starting line. You can meet the pacers and get to know them before you start your run.