In every major marathon, the organiser will usually set up a pacing group to pace the runners who wish to achieve certain timing goal. The SCMS is no different and for the past few years, the Running Department, a group of seasoned running enthusiasts have been tasked with doing this job. They will wear tees with their timing standard on their back and have balloons tie to them to make them visible so that runners can keep track of them easily.
The Running Department has been doing a great job as evidenced by their being the official pacers for the past years. But this year, thing has gonna a bit confusing. Another running group has set up what is essentially an “unofficial” pacing group for the marathon as well. This group will have pacers from 3.30 hours to 4.30 hours slightly different from Running Department’s 3.45 hours onward.
This unofficial pacing group has rifled some of the pacers from Running Department and split opinion whether it is a good thing. Those in favour argued that the more the merrier. More runners can then achieve their target. Those against argued that the unofficial pacers will cause confusion to the runners, is not liable for any mishap and take away the credit from the official pacers.
Unfortunately when asked, the organiser has refused to take a stand and only repeated its position that there is only one official pacer.
So is the unofficial pacing group a good or a bad things. I suppose just like the argument against the new disruptive technology and to a certain extent, us volunteer photographers in Running Shots and the official event photographers, there are always pro and cons.
On the one hand, the so called unofficial pacers can, if they do their job properly help some runners to achieve their goals especially if it is in a time band that the official pacer is not able to provide. On the other hand, if the unofficial pacer group fail to do their job properly and runners who didn’t realise they are unofficial, follow them and subsequently failed to achieve their goal, who can they blame? The unofficial pacer or the organiser?
Me think the official pacer group should be allowed to be the only visible pacing group so as not to cause confusion. Anybody who want to pace as a community service should either join the official pacing group and go through a proper structured pacer training to ensure that they can do the job properly on race day. Or they can just run alongside a friend or a small group of friends as personal pacers and not be some visible group with their own timing target printed on their top.
Here at Running Shots, we don’t call ourselves unofficial photographers. Neither do we openly declare that we will be covering an event (unless we are invited to do so by the organiser). We don’t even announce where we will be parking outside to shoot photos. Why? Because we recognise that there are official photographers and we should let them do their job properly without interference from any other parties trying to cash in on their territory. Having said that, I think there is room for everybody to co-exist but everyone need to be mindful of their own position and respect each other. After all, this is a voluntary effort and not some profit making scheme and there should not be any competition to be one upmanship against the other.