Taking the OMTOM bus
A common sight at almost all top road races in South Africa is that of a runner
with a pole and a little flag.
This is not a man or a woman going out of their way to attract attention so a loved one can spot them on the run, but rather a pace setter.
These are experienced, dedicated runners who provide valuable assistance and guidance to novices or to those focussed on running a particular time. Through astute time-keeping and excellent course management, the pace setters get you from start to finish - hopefully with a smile.
“Sometimes it is a good idea to try a pace bus,” says 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon pace setter Eva Rienhardt. “If you decide to join a pacing bus you will be running according to a pacing chart which has been calculated according to the route profile, so you will be running some kilometres slower or faster. Just follow the pacer - he or she will do the hard work! The advantage of joining a pace bus is that somebody else does the timekeeping and you just follow the bus to achieve your goal time for a race.”
Derrick Rondganger and Buks van Heerden were pace setters of the seven-hour bus for the 2017 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon.
“Running in a group always brings an exciting vibe with it. The pace setters need to work around that vibe, spice it up to give it flavour that your passengers can enjoy and not forget,” says Rondganger.
Buks Van Heerden says the energy on the bus depends on the race and the passengers on the day. Busses can be silent while others are noisy. It also depends on the pace setter - some are entertainers and others keep focussed on the job.
Van Heerden’s point is an important one, as not all “passengers” are suited to catching the bus. He has compiled a list of the pros and cons of running in a pace setter group.
- The driver does all the thinking
- No game plan required for the individual
- It will train and teach you to run consistently
- Teaching you to start believing in yourself
- You will sing and chat throughout the race
- It takes your mind off the task (make the day/race feel shorter)
- Assisting with rhythm
- Make new friends across all cultures
- Support through the rough times in a race
- Lots of energy in these busses
- You might be on TV!
- It can be very crowded (especially at the bigger events)
- It can be very warm within these busses
- There is a chance of tripping and falling
- Driver can run a different strategy to your training or running preference
- Difficult times around water points
- Can go too fast or too slow
- Driver is human
- There is a chance that you might “blow” if you’ve joined the wrong bus
Things to consider before you join a bus
- Running in a bus is a personal choice, not everyone will enjoy the bus
- The bus driver is a volunteer and human
- Keep distance between you and the other runners in the bus (air flow, tripping)
- No one is able to read your mind, so communicate if you go through a difficult patch
- Motivate and encourage others
This year the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon are allocating up to 17 pace setters in the Ultra Marathon to help you achieve your goal, and five for each batch in the Half Marathon. We will introduce them in more detail early next year, so stay tuned to find out who your pace setters will be.