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Home >> Blog >> Axel >> Pace Bus Etiquette

Pace Bus Etiquette

  • Ultra Marathon
  • Half Marathon
  • Training

You may already have read my article about how to find your own race strategy (http://www.twooceansmarathon.org.za/blogs/axel/who-needs-race-strategy) but perhaps you are beginning to wonder whether running with one of the official race buses might actually be the right choice for you?

You may be right, just keep on reading and find out.

In 2012 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ‘drive’ the sub 6 hour bus during the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra. Coupled with this my bus became known as ‘the birthday bus’ as race day was also my 42nd birthday. We had a lot of fun, even though it was the year of the so-called  ‘four oceans’ as it rained cats and dogs from start to finish.

What can you expect from running in a bus?

  • You don’t need to worry too much about your pace; get on the bus with your destined finish time and if the driver is doing a good job, you will make it.
  • You will sing and chat throughout the race thereby making the whole day feel shorter than it actually is.
  • You will be supported through the rough times by your fellow bus passengers.
  • You will feel lots of energy and positive momentum, keeping nagging voices inside your head trying to slow you down at bay.

So you have decided to run with the bus, what do you need to know?

  • If you are running on the edges make sure to take water, coke, Powerade not only for yourself but also for the runners in the centre of the pack. Running in the middle of a bus makes it impossible to both recognise a water table and get to it before you pass it.
  • When the bus driver asks for drinks, be kind enough to organise it for him. He can best do his duties if he is able to fully focus on pacing. In addition it’s just a lovely token of gratitude.
  • If a fellow runner is going through a tough patch and tells you that he is struggling, share some encouraging words and tell him ‘you are looking strong’. Reassure him that you will all make it to the end. You know what I mean, the encouraging stuff the supporters yell at you. Even if you know that you are not looking strong, it still makes you feel better.
  • If you are yourself going through a bad patch during the race, do not simply drop out. Neither the bus driver nor the other runners can read your mind or stop for you. However, if you mention your troubles, then you can be sure that some of your comrades are going to support you and get you through it.
  • Keep some distance between yourself and other runners. It will be warm, no matter what conditions. It is even warmer, if you huddle together like penguins in Antarctica trying to survive the freezing cold. Keep some space to let some air through the bus.  You don’t need to worry that you might lose track of the bus just because you keep 50 cm more space between yourselves.
  • Keeping a good amount of space is also crucial in avoiding injuries and falls. Accidents can occur because another runner simply stepped onto your shoes or into your heel.
  • Remember, your bus driver is volunteer and a human being. As much as you might enjoy not having to worry about the time, you should check at least every 6 – 8 km that you are still on track for the time you are aiming for. If the bus driver struggles, you might need to become self-reliant and go it alone ahead of the bus.  A friend of mine once missed his goal of a sub 3hr marathon by 30 seconds, because the bus driver could not manage to keep the pace over the last 10 km. When my friend realised it, it was already too late.
  • Your playlist on your iPod might have been your best friend during the training sessions, but please remember the race rules and leave your music at home. You should at all times be able to hear your bus driver talking to you. I remember when I did that job, we had a dangerous situation when a runner ahead of us ran in the middle of the road, listening to music, not hearing us approaching her. I had to warn my bus to be careful and run around this lady. Not only was she breaking the rules; she was a danger to others.  So please, please be a good comrade and show your belonging to a bus by listening to the bus driver and your fellow runners. (Please have a look at my other blog post regarding mental strength and iPods here: http://www.twooceansmarathon.org.za/blogs/guest-blogger/strengthen-your-mental-toughness-race-day)  
  • When you enter the finish area, please do not start sprinting just to be five seconds faster. The biggest sign of appreciation to the bus driver and the other runners who have helped you finish is to stay together until the end.
  • Most importantly try and remember that this is a running event and you are not going to be racing for the win. It is a hobby, for fun, for health, for joy. Don’t make it into a drama that it was never meant to be. Have fun!

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If you want to know more about me and my running experiences, please visit my personal running blog http://www.ultra-marathon-man.com/en

Enjoy the last weeks of preparation and the race. And don’t forget to say thank you to your family who been missing you through all the times while you are on the road training for the big day!