Behind The Scenes With A “Pace Bunny”

Once frowned upon, they are now ubiquitous.

Wearing bunny ears, "pace bunnies" help runners, mentally, by establishing a designated speed. Photo: The National Post

They used to be called the scourge of the racing world, but now pacers are everywhere. Where did pacemaking originate? The Canadian Web site, The National Post, sought to answer this question in a recent article. To start, reporter Ben Kaplan turns to Canada’s oldest race, the Calgary Marathon.

“After the Second World War, I remember reading about pacers at the Mexican Olympics who sacrificed themselves to let their countrymen win,” recalls Bill Wyllie, the founder of the race. Prior to the first Calgary Marathon in 1963, Wyllie held what he called a “pace judgment time trials.”

“I’m not sure if we had 15 people show up for that first trial, but we had to beat the bushes to find runners,” he says. “We knew holding the pace was essential to get people to finish their first marathon.”

The famous Boston-area coach, Bill Squires, recalls that pacers used to be the scourge of racing in the 1930s. “It was viewed like drugs, and you’d have guys going out pacing for a quarter mile, then pretending they had an injury or some baloney, dropping out of the race,” he says.

For More: The National Post

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