With a bang, a mass of people in shorts took off. Within the mass, I found myself pacing the Wild Hog Half Marathon. A pacer’s job is to run even splits and finish at a specific time. I was in charge of pacing runners to a two hour finish in the race.
Beside me was a group of new parents who were running the 10K. Bart Yasso, writer for “Runner’s World” since 1987 and guest speaker for the Wild Hog started running with the group I was in charge of pacing. He was running a few feet behind me, talking to a woman from Manitoba.
After leaving Choice Health Fitness, the course veered north on Belmont Street to Lincoln Park. Then around East Grand Forks, before going south on Belmont Street back to Choice Health Fitness.
The start of the race went well. To run 13 miles in two hours, a pace of nine minutes and 10 seconds per mile is required. The nine minute mile pace was a good long distance training run for me. As we approached the first water station a mile into the race, I realized my pace for the group was too slow.
One of the runners behind me reminded me of my pace multiple times. Going through mile four was the last time I heard the man. I had improved my pace for the group, now only 15 seconds behind. The man who was critical of my pace pushed past me. I never saw him the rest of the race, thankfully. I appreciated the constructive criticism because I never paced a half marathon, but being reminded of how bad you are doing your job gets annoying quickly.
After mile four, I was struck with an inconvenience. The GPS watch I was using to help track my pace ran out of power. For the next five miles, I asked the runners next to me what they had for a time. With a little over three miles to go, I opted to just feel out the pace, hoping that I would lead my group to two hours by the finish line.
Finishing in two hours and 26 seconds, I was eager to chow down on a variety of food the volunteers were serving runners.
The only difficult part was having to hold a pacer sign. The sign was small, but it still got caught in the 13 to 15 mph wind blowing along the Red River.
Reflecting upon my experience, I would greatly encourage those who like running to consider pacing the Wild Hog Half Marathon. The event was coordinated well, with space for parking and many volunteers assisting the runners. By pacing the marathon, I received all the amenities of racing without paying a dime. In addition, pacers got a separate white singlet.
In the end I got one long-sleeve T-shirt, one singlet, a pair of socks, a wild hog glass and a drawstring backpack in exchange for two hours of sweat, and mild leg soreness after the race.
Nick Sallen is the opinion editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]