If you’ve been following my blog over the last month or so, you know that I’ve recently run a couple tough races. Now, it’s time to switch gears a bit and let someone else do the racing. I’m honored to be one of two pacers for my friend Samantha who is taking on Cascade Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run this weekend.
Cascade Crest is a challenging 100-mile trail race through the Central Cascades of Washington State. The race starts and ends in Easton, WA and runs through the beautiful Wenatchee and Snoqualmie-Mt Baker National Forests. Runners will also be treated to about 30 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. By the time the runners cross the finish line, they will have completed one very tough race that has a total elevation gain of 21,550’ and a high point of nearly 6,000 feet.
This will be my fourth pacing job. I chose the word “job” intentionally—I take this role very seriously. I paced my friend Gina in her first ultramarathon, Rainier to Ruston, a tough 50-miler that starts near Mt. Rainer National Park and finishes in Tacoma, WA. I also paced Gina in her first 100-mile trail race in rural Pennsylvania and then in her second 100-mile race in Huntsville, Texas.
I’ve learned a lot from pacing and know what to expect. However, just like running a race, pacing can take unexpected twists and turns, and a pacer needs to be ready. The role of a pacer can take many forms depending on the needs of the runner and the rules of the race. While the main goal may be to get your runner to the finish line, it’s equally important to make sure that your runner is safe and stable throughout the race. Running 100 miles can take up to or over 24-hours to complete depending on the difficulty of the race, so a pacer needs to be ready for anything.
I will be running approximately 15 miles with Samantha starting at the 52-mile mark. I’ll pick her up around 1:00 am or so—at this point she’ll have been running for about 15 hours. As a pacer, I will have many roles including:
- Retail Specialist: Does she have the proper clothes on? Is she warm enough? Too hot? How are her feet doing—does she need to change shoes? Her socks?
- Entertainer: We’ll be out there for a while—does she need a good laugh? I need to have some good stories and jokes ready. However, I also need to know when silence is preferred.
- Nutritionist: Is she staying hydrated and getting enough to eat? What food does she want or more importantly, what does she need to stay away from?
- Massage Therapist: She’s running 100 miles—a good rub down may be exactly what she needs to work out those sore legs and tight neck.
- Disciplinarian: Tough love may be required at times and I won’t be afraid to spring into action (I’m sure she’ll forgive me).
- Navigator: I need to be familiar with the trail and pay attention to the course markings. Not getting us lost or off course is crucial!
- Psychologist: There will be many ups and downs—we’ll need to work through the lows together.
- Doctor: I’ll need to check in with her about how her body is doing and be prepared to treat blisters, scrapes, stomach aches, sore muscles, and the occasional bug bite.
- Time Keeper: Races do have cut-offs and I will need to be cognizant of the time and make sure we’re moving when we need to move.
- Friend: Most of all, I need to be her friend and provide her with unconditional love and support. This tends to be my favorite role to play.
As you can see, as a pacer, I will certainly have my work cut out for me. However, as a pacer, there’s nothing more rewarding than helping your runner accomplish their goal, and I can’t wait for Samantha to experience the joy and sweet success of completing her first 100-mile race!
Traveling for another race is also an opportunity to give back to a community as part of my Small Change initiative. Given that the race is in Washington, it was a pretty easy decision for me to pick Panda Paws Rescue as my organization (check out my Small Change page to learn why). Thanks, Panda Paws Rescue, for all that you do for animals.
Have you been a pacer or been paced before? Share your suggestions and tips of what worked for you in the comments section.