If the term ‘pacer’ feels a little foreign to you, you’ve come to the right place for some insight! Whether you’re new and nervous to the world of endurance racing, or you mistook the people jogging with their funny little signs as weirdly enthusiastic friends of other participants, you may find it extremely helpful to familiarize with this particular group of people.
Simply put, pacers are experienced volunteers meant to aid participants in achieving a certain finish time. For example, if you aim to finish the Love Run in two hours, you’ll need to maintain an average pace of 9 minutes 9 seconds per mile. Running alongside the appropriate pacer – who you can spot by the signs they carry identifying the pace/finish time they represent – will help you meet your race goals.
There are plenty of factors athletes should consider when choosing the pacer that aligns best with their fitness level. Find more helpful information on setting your pace and avoiding common mistakes here and here.
Now, allow us to introduce to you our incredible #EliteLoveRunPacers, provided by Elite Access Running lead by Dawn and Kendra (awesome coaches if you need one!). We’re thrilled to have them every year at the Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon:
Pacer Mike Dechnik – 1:30 Finish/6:52 pace
Mike spends most of his time being Dad to his three wonderful kids and he runs to keep in shape and to keep up with them. He was a sprinter and pole-vaulter in high school, and found distance running later in life, back in March 2012, at the age of 43. Mike’s since run over 80 races including 7 half marathons and 5 marathons, and the biggest of his running career so far was getting his first sub-3 (2:59:15) at the Boston Marathon in 2016.
Pacer Tom O’Leary – 1:35 Finish/7:15 pace
Tom is a 53-year-old teacher from Philadelphia who loves running all distances.Tom has coached high school track and cross country since 2001. He loves running more than ever and all of his PR’s have come in the last couple years, including a 1:04 at Broad Street, several half marathons at 1:28 and a 2016 marathon in 3:08. On his cross-training days, he can be found spinning, swimming or doing a boot camp. Pacing is a fun way for Tom to give back to his fellow runners while helping them achieve their goals!
Pacer Larry Trimmer – 1:40 Finish/7:38 pace
Larry is 48, husband and father of three. He started running 20 years ago while serving in the United States Marine Corps. He has paced 10 half marathons in the past few years in the hope of helping others obtain their goal. Larry has completed a marathon in 40 different states with a goal of all 50 states. His highlights include Marine Corps Marathon (5x), New York City, Boston (2x) and 5 marathons in 5 days. Larry has also completed an Ironman Triathlon.
Pacer Lou Klein – 1:45 Finish/8:01 pace
Lou is pacing his 4th Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon. He’s served as a Pacer since June 2014 when he first paced the ODDyssey Half Marathon. During his runs, my favorite snack is non-gelatin gummy candies (such as Swedish Fish), and my favorite song to run to is Zero Dark Thirty by Aesop Rock. Fortunately enough, pacing has helped him help others accomplish their goals in many races this past year, be it a 4k time trial or a privately sanctioned road marathon. One of his favorite running moments this past year was finishing the Rocky 50k, which is an informal ultramarathon held in Philadelphia on the first Saturday in December every year.
Pacer Meg Kajino – 1:50 Finish/8:24 pace
Meg has been involved in endurance running for about 10 years. Her favorite race distance is the marathon, and she has completed the Boston Marathon consecutively every year since 2010 and wishes to keep the streak as long as she possibly can. Her PR for the marathon is 3:30 and PR for the half marathon is 1:36. She enjoys running in every weather condition, including snowstorms and heat waves.
Pacer Bennett Brookstein –1:55 Finish/8:47 pace
Running since middle school, Bennett has run distances from mile to marathon. He has run 20 marathons. Boston in 2017. Broad Street run going on 27 years in a row. Founder and president of the Fairmount Running Club. He loves eating Philly soft pretzels and the Atlantic City subs.
Pacer David S Johnson Sr. – 2:00 Finish/9:09 pace
David has been running for eight years and continues to do so because he finds it to be enjoyable and loves setting different running goals to challenge himself. He loves serving as a pacer because the only thing he finds more enjoyable than hitting a personal record is helping someone else achieve theirs. He normally tries to serve as a 2-hour pacer in a half marathon in hopes of helping someone achieve their first sub 2-hour marathon. That gain is his plan at the 2018 Philly Love Run.
Pacer Davida Baker – 2:05 Finish/9:33 pace
Davida is a 37-year-old, mother of four and a pharmaceutical professional. She has been running for 15 years and has been participating in endurance runs (marathons, half marathons and ten milers) for the past eight years. She enjoys running for exercise, to reduce stress and to help other women achieve their personal running goals.
Pacer Megan Bernstein – 2:10 Finish/9:55 pace
Megan runs because it helps her find and hold on to her best self! She is a native Philadelphian with a lot of enthusiasm and an unusual work and school schedule, so she finds that hitting the track or the trails (or the treadmill) gives her the satisfaction of a job well done and the endorphins she needs to keep it rockin’ through the days (and nights) in her emergency medicine career. Megan likes pacing because she has learned over the past decade of running that sometimes you want a PR, and other times you want to simply complete the distance. By serving as a pacer, she is able to be a tiny, steady and smiling part of both of those things and everything in between for so many people on race day!
Pacer Mekela Mongerie – 2:15 Finish /10:18 pace
Mekela’s favorite running song at the moment is Hey Mama remix by David Guetta. Her worst running moment – she was attempting a BQ at the Shamrock Marathon in a Nor’easter, 50 mph winds. She had to duct tape her sneakers, she overheated, she had to stop and rip the tape off at mile 6, then to add insult to injury she had to go to the bathroom at Mile 13. The realization of failure at the moment was very disappointing, so since she was passing her hotel she stopped in and used a proper bathroom. (make lemons out of lemonade, right?). Her best running moment – when she crossed the finish line of her first marathon.
Pacer Nkenge Rush-Hall – 2:20 Finish/10:41 pace
Nkenge always had a true love for running and the sport as a whole. When she thinks about her gift she believes it is running. In 2013 she started running again on a regular basis. Since then, she has never looked backed. She’s run multiple races in every distance and completed her first marathon in 2015. Running has allowed Nkenge to obtain her running goals, improve her fitness and tackle anything that life throws her way. Her interest as a Pacer came after observing others do it and knowing that it works in helping others maintain their pace, finish strong and ultimately meet their goal.
Pacer Suzanne Nelson – 2:30 Finish/11:27 pace
Suzanne is a college student and mother of three. She has been a runner for almost 5 years. She ran 9 full marathons, including one 50K and dozens of half marathons! She runs because it is her outlet for stress. She always feels better after a run! She runs for her run buddy, Mason, who physically cannot run. Suzanne enjoys sending him the medals since he reminds her when her legs get tired to run with her heart.
Pacer Stephanie Ruzicka – 2:45 Finish /12:36 pace
Stephanie is an experienced Pacer. She has paced many marathons and half marathons, including the NJ full, ADK Marathon, NYC Marathon, R&R Brooklyn, The Halloween Half, Philadelphia Marathon and NYRR Brooklyn Half. Stephanie’s fastest half marathon time is 1:48:03. She is looking forward to serving as a Pacer for the Love Run, one of her favorite half marathons.
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