Friday, August 17, 2012

Bandits, Pacers, and Crews one man’s thoughts.

What is a Bandit?
A bandit is a runner that runs in a race or event that isn’t officially registered. There is a gray line when talking about Pacers and Crews, but more on that latter. Is banditing an event wrong? Yes for many reasons but again there is a gray area. Running an entire event and crossing the finish line sometimes even wining the event as a bandit is completely messed up. There is an insurance problem for one. If a bandit gets hurt during an event they are NOT covered under the events insurance. A race director does not have any contact information for a non-registered runner. Events plan there logistics on the number of registered runners and if bandits take water or other items then a registered runner may not have what they need to finish the run.

What is a Pacer?
A pacer's duties vary, depending on the race. Most commonly they are put in place by an event to cross the finish line in a curtain pace group/time. Someone who is experienced in running marathons and half marathons as well as running with groups of people will be put in place in Half Marathons and Marathons.  Half Marathon Pace Groups are normally time of 1:45 (8:00/mi), 2:00 (9:09/mi), 2:15 (10:18/mi) and 2:30 (11:27/mi) and Marathon Pace Groups are normally  3:15 (7:27/mi), 3:25 (7:50/mi), 3:35 (8:13/mi), 3:45 (8:36/mi),  4:00 (9:09/mi), 4:15 (9:43/mi), 4:30 (10:18/mi) and 5:00 (11:27/mi).  This is a free serves provided by events to help runners meet there goals. An event pacer will maintain even splits right through the water stops.  However, a runner should run their race as they have planned and trained.

A Pacer in an Ultra marathon?
Most ultra marathons allow pacers to help runners during part of the course, not the entire race. The runner picks up their pacer at a certain aid station, and the pacer runs with their runner for a section of the race. Some pacers used in these events are only allowed to run with their runners and in others they are allowed to carry all their gear.  A pacer is there for encouragement and moral support. Pacers are often friends and/or running partners of the runner and someone they trust to keep them moving. 

What is a Crew member or Handler?

A crew member would be someone who helps a runner at a race, supplying food, fluids, and other supplies, maybe even motivation. A crew member is someone recruited to help the runner like a spouse/friend, as opposed to aid station personnel supplied by the race organizers. Crews can be called by other names, like "Handlers." In the heat of battle, they sometimes get called less attractive names. Like ass doggie, and other choice well you get the idea.
Some things a Crew maybe asked to do or be a part of.  Pre-race briefing, Spend time with the runner and be real clear about what is expected of you. Study the course description, visit or run parts of the course you will be on. Know what the course markings look like, and how far and how long to the next aid station. Having a crew at night can be critical for a runner. Most important thing is to keep the runner safe. Knowing when the runner is just messed up in the head or because of nutrition and knowing when the runner is really jacked up and needs to stop running.

Now here is the gray line…. Some people may not think the same as me. A pacer that is not provided by the event talking about half marathons and marathons (not in Ultras because you provide your own) is considered a bandit. Now in saying that I have “paced” friends in marathons yes that’s banditing to an extent.  I did not take anything from any aid station or run a part of the course that needed traffic control that the event had to pay for. For example Spinks Marathon is run mostly on an old paved RR. Most of my Sunday runs are a 5 mile out and back on this the same stretch that the 
marathon runs on. I “paced” a friend on this section of the marathon course. Mile 15 to 25 ish. Did not take anything and did not do anything out of the norm for my usual self support training run. See where the gray line is. Some people say that having a pacer is cheating. Here are more gray lines for them. Say a runner is legal blind and has a pacer to make sure they don’t get lost is that cheating? How is that any different then someone that just needs moral support to get to the finish? Having someone run the last few miles with you or having your child run with you for a bit. What’s the difference? There both there because of love for the runner and supporting “their” runner. How about this In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, who had registered as a man "K. V. Switzer", was the first woman to run with a race number. Under a fake name “bandit” She finished, despite a famous incident in which race official Jock Simple tried to rip off her numbers and eject her from the race. Would you say she was wrong? Men were not allowed to run in the Boston back then.

Well that’s just some food for thought and maybe some stuff you did not know. Here’s some more… popping your knuckles does not cause arthritis.  

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