Reporting on Pacing Failures at the Mumbai Marathon 2018

The FunRunParty Bus

The Messenger is Back
Ever since my “Being a Pacer, Choosing a Pacer – A Guide” I have published a table once a year after the Mumbai Marathon on the performance of official pacers selected to set the pace for other recreational runners for various target times.

The reason for my tabulated updates after the race are outlined in the 2016 report and some lessons from pacer failures are outlined in the 2015 report. The 2017 report includes my 2-hour FunRunParty Bus’s maiden voyage. Today I present you my report for 2018.

Last Sunday, it felt great to be greeted throughout the race morning of the 2018 edition by runners who had used my freely available pacing bands. Even the tiny proportion of runners who decided to race with a pacer would have done well to use one of my pacing bands. For the Mumbai Marathon, they were first released in 2016republished in 2017 and then again for 2018. To see why I think they are calibrated brilliantly read this.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Lights, Music, Dance, Colour

Over 120 runners pre-registered their interest to make history and run on my FunRunParty 2-hour Bus and many others joined along the way. [You can watch the promo PostPreview film based on the 2017 run.] The goal was to party along the entire route and, as promised, we had lights, music, dance and other action.  Wine, however, was not served – nor was beer! Everyone who was part of it had a wonderful experience… so, success was achieved on the ‘fun party’ dimension! And, our bus finished bang on target time! If only I could be pleased about the rest of the pacing buses…


OK, so here are the results in two separate tables for the half marathon and the full marathon.

Half Marathon

Mumbai Marathon 2018 – Half Marathon – Pacer Performance

Full Marathon

Mumbai Marathon 2018 – Full Marathon – Pacer Performance

Why are things still going wrong?
It is Republic Day today in India. Why can’t we get the biggest running event to have better pacing performance? To have 12 pacers fail to finish before their deadline is not a joking matter. To have more than a quarter of the pacers in the full marathon failing again this year is not a joking matter! The half marathon had significantly more failures than last year (2017) and the year before that (2016) and even the year before that (2015)– again not something to take lightly!

I took over 280 trips on Mumbai’s local trains between the race last year and this year. I daresay I am proud of the reliability of that service! And I paid the equivalent of only 4 race entry fees for mostly First Class (compartment) travel for those 280 trips! I don’t need that PhD in Finance to tell me that this smells of a clear case of mismatch between price and value! Three Cheers for The Indian Railways!

So, What Next?
Presenting this table each year seems to not affect the outcome in the next year. But, it is still worth my doing so for the running community. On the bright side, do look out for more interesting articles from me based on this specific race in the weeks ahead that might be more relevant to your training as well as race experience.

Wait for the messenger!


Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.


  1. Thanks for you work on analysing the pacers performance. It would be great if you can take into account, how ‘well’ the pacers have hit their target as well. No point if the pacers start out too fast, and then spend the time taking selfies and walking last 2 KMs just to ‘finish’ in time. I have noticed this multiple times.


    • Thank you for your comment and suggestion Abhishek. I agree with you… I had promised others and myself too that I would look into it this year… I keep meaning to.. but time availability is a huge constraint.
      Having said that… given that examination of splits will only make the situation look more dire, I think it’s not so critical to do that analysis… when at the broad ‘total level’ everything pretty much sucks anyway!
      It just means that those who received a “Yaay” should not pat themselves on their back, unless to walk at specific points was part of their previously planned schedule.
      Given that even with a single parameter (net finish time) there is so much debate (some people think that finishing 29 seconds late is OK) calibrating the runners to my model (used for the bands) would simply create more debate that is unnecessary at this stage. Let’s just get ALL our buses to the finish on time first… and then worry about which bus stopped for a bit longer at intermediate stops! When we reach a stage where almost every bus finishes on target, we can look into the next level of detail. Until then it is as moot as trying to score Indian politicians on a ‘scale of integrity’.


  2. Was waiting for this. It would be interesting to see the splits of the pacers. I refer to the 4 45 pacer who was going too fast and would have had to slow down considerably to avoid getting in too early


  3. Hi Puru.I am a big fan you .I just started running from the last six month .So I can’t so much understand U r articles


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