Our GEICO pacers get it done

GEICO pacersLast year, I got to serve as a pacer for a local metric (26.2k) marathon. It was such a rewarding experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve also been on the other side of the fence, using a pacer during marathons. From both these experiences, I can tell you that pacing is both art and science. For years now, the Baltimore Marathon has provided one of the best group of pacers around in the form of the GEICO Pacers.

If you’re unfamiliar with what exactly a pacer does, here’s the deal: Pacers lead runners seeking a particular time goal from the start to the finish line. At Baltimore, there are pacers (marathon distance only) for every 10-minute increment from 3:05 to 3:55, and then every 15-min. increment from 4:15 to 5:15. Pacers set out at an even pace and nail that finish time to within 59 seconds below it, something that is crucial for those seeking a Boston Marathon qualifying time. That’s the science part of pacing.

The art part is providing not only exact pacing support, but moral support as well. Anyone who has run a marathon will tell you that there are inevitable low points along the 26.2-mile route. Pacers encourage and help runners focus when the going gets tough. They also know the course like the back of their hands, so they can point out the best times to ramp it up or pull it back in the interest of running an overall even split. At Baltimore, you’re going to get a diverse group of pacers from all walks of life, but all have the experience to help guide runners to their goals.

According to three-time Baltimore Marathon pacer Sara Damiano, pacing groups may be as large as 40 people each, with up to five pacers per group to help along the way. She says that using a pacer is an ideal way to tackle your first marathon. “Running a marathon can be very challenging,” she says. “We can make it a little less so.”

In most cases, once the groups hit the 24-mile mark at the end of the Howard Street bridge, the pacers encourage runners to run ahead in order to not only meet their time goals, but beat them.

If you’re interested in joining a pace group on Oct. 12, look for the GEICO Pacers at the expo. Registration is only available at the expo. At the booth you can not only meet some of the pacers, but sign up for the particular group you’re interested in joining FOR FREE!! Then on race day, find your group by looking for the big signs with finishing times along the start corrals. Once you get into the thick of the marathon, you’ll be so glad you have the encouragement and camaraderie a pace group provides–it really does make for a better experience.

So tell us–have you used pacers before? How did they help you the most? 

For more information on the Pacers, go here to the CSE web site. GEICO pacer bios will be posted soon as well.



  1. I love races that have pacers. I can see how they could be so important to hitting a crucial goal like a BQ. I would love to know how they train and do it!

  2. I think it’s great when races have pace teams, much appreciated. I am/was planning to use one in Richmond marathon. Tried to use pace team in Richmond half, but they dropped sign and I lost sight of them, didn’t have balloons/bunny ears/easy way for me to find them again….pain for pacers but pace teams, please make it very easy for runners to find and stay with you if separated due to large field, corrals/waves. Also great if races can have multiple pacers at each pace.

    • Mjruns, we all wear pacer shirts but there are no signs and no balloons. Sorry. There are 3-5 of us per group. See the pacer list for exactly how many in each group. We do make it easy to follow us and not lose us. Hoping for the best for you on race day!

  3. I’ve never followed a pacer per say. I simply viewed the pacer as a time marker as I didn’t wear a watch at either race I’ve done. I definitely appreciate their role!

  4. If I ever get to run a marathon I think I would use a pacer. I can’t imagine trying to be a pacer – that would cause me a lot of stress!!

  5. Any plans for pacers for the half marathon?

  6. I’ve never used a pacer but love the idea of it! Especially if you’re trying for a certain time!

  7. I have used a pace group once for a half marathon, I loved it and I was able to hit and reach my goal time. Last year when running Baltimore marathon, I did it with my friends but for the 2014 Baltimore Marathon I will definitely use on.

  8. I used a pacer last year and is a great idea and liked using them but I too have lost track of them in the crowd. It does affect my running when you loose them and have to expend alot of energy to try and find then catch back up….Even if they have a small flag that they pick up and wave so they can be found every once in a while. Maybe even a wrist band or glove that would be very noticeable so when the arm is extended in the air you can find them?? These are just ideas but there should be a better way to try and keep track of them. 4th year of running this marathon and counting….

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