Reporting on Pacing Failures at the ADHM 2018

How many of the 32 pacers at the ADHM-2018 failed?
The answer is “10 out of 32 failed!
Read on to find out more…

The Messenger is Back from Delhi
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. Until today, I had never done the same for Delhi, and perhaps I should have. My recent paper, blog teaser, and tool for the pollution and weather trade-offs, inspired by the annual hangama in Delhi, made me ask the following question:

“If, despite knowing the primary source of the pollution, the government machinery does nothing to prevent recurrence, why should I assume that by moving from the financial capital of India to its political capital, that failure of non-governmental pacers should simply disappear?”

[For the Mumbai Marathon pacer failures, see: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015]

Why have a Messenger?

To read about some of the reasons why I think it is important that we look at pacer performance after a race, have a look at this part of an earlier blog.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

I’ve said this time and time again, please don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger! Direct your energy to ask yourself, “how could I fix this problem myself?
[p.s. my answer to the problem is simply presented here.]


What I was pleased to see is that there were pacers for many more target times, i.e. greater granularity, which is always a (necessary, but not sufficient) condition for satisfying a wider range of customers.

It surprised me that there were such few female pacers even though the proportion (12.5%) was representative of the participant population (13.8%). Let us only hope that both (female participation and female pacers) go up in the years ahead. After all, they make up about 50% of the general population.

Here is how the official pacers performed at the half marathon and the 10km.

Half Marathon

ADHM-2018 Pacer Performance for the Half Marathon


ADHM-2018 Pacer Performance for the 10 km

Why are things still going wrong?
I was quite sure that very few pacers, if any, would have failed at their task. An easy course, and good weather, I did not expect that 10 out of 32 pacers would fail at their task. That’s almost 1 out of 3!

It is possible that the race organizers gave guidance to first-time-pacers that it was “OK to be up to 30 seconds late“. If that is the case, in my opinion, that is horrible guidance. And I am positively sure that anyone expecting to do no slower than 2:19:19 for their “sub-2:20” and who stuck with their 2:20-pacer would wholeheartedly agree!

So, What Next?
I have not checked the pacer performance for Delhi in previous years, but I cannot imagine why it would be any better! Presenting this table each year seems to not affect the outcome in the next year when it came to the Mumbai Marathon. But, it is still worth my doing so for the running community. Like I say to those whom I mentor Stop relying on others, become self-reliant, and don’t let others hold you back from reaching your true potential”.

I am only 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.

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