The Messenger is Back
Links to Previous Reports
The Punjabi Party Bus
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
Have Things Gotten Better or Worse?
Improving Pacer Coordination
Race Organization Complaints
So, What Next?
The Messenger is Back [top]
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.
Today I present you my report for 2020.
The previous Sunday, 19th January, it felt great to be greeted throughout the race morning of the 2020 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 2016, republished in 2017, and then for 2018, for 2019 and again for 2020. To see why I think they are calibrated brilliantly read this.
The Punjabi Party Bus [top]
The theme for this year’s pacing was “The Punjabi Party Bus“. The message is fairly simple:
You don’t have to be Punjabi to enjoy life. Even a grueling race can be a source of great joy and satisfaction!
Almost 90 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!
Don’t Shoot the Messenger [top]
I present the numbers in this report. It is done without emotion or bias. Without political affiliation! The only agenda of sorts is to see improvement in the process as we move towards perfection in process performance.
Half Marathon [top]
Full Marathon [top]
Have Things Got Better or Worse? [top]
It appeared last year (2019) that, being more stringent in the selection of pacers for the full-marathon, had paid off dividends with fewer failures than in 2018. This year (2020) the full-marathon had an even smaller failure rate – the smallest failure rate so far!
For the half-marathon, the failure rate is much smaller than in previous years.
I know a couple of the runners who failed in their pacing job that day. They’re dedicated human beings and I know they must feel awful to have missed their target by a small amount. However, I hope they have also learned valuable life lessons from it.
Although we had failures this year across all 3 categories, when there really should be none, it warms my heart to see such improvements finally. I hope that the trend continues so that next year there are zero failures.
Improving Pacer Coordination [top]
Two simple improvement areas:
A) For a given target time where there are 2 (or more) pacers, it would be good to see the pair of pacers for that target time spread themselves out through the running crowd. This is done by simply not crossing the start line at similar times. If a pair does not do that (and, unfortunately, we see quite a few such pairs in both the half and in the full-marathon in the tables above), then one is not really serving as many runners as one could. What the pair have then effectively done is to have provided just one pacing bus with 2 persons allocated to driving that bus! It would be good to have 2 buses, each with a driver, rather than a bus driver and a conductor! And, if you have a bus driver and a conductor, then do not consider it to be 2 separate buses – it is better to say you have a bus with a backup driver!
B) The sea of runners crosses the start line across a wide time window. It makes sense for pacers to not look to cross the start line soon after the starting gun themselves. Other than for the fastest buses in each race, all pacing buses must necessarily consciously cross the start line after a non-trivial delay after the race is flagged off. I am not suggesting they start a very long time after the gun but simply that they consider where the centre of mass of their target runners is instead of crossing the start line as soon as they can from their race enclosure.
Race Organization Complaints [top]
No race organization of Mumbai Marathon has ever been perfect but it is good to see that the organizers wish to get there.
I will mention just 2 of the primary complaints that I gathered from the experiences of others. They are both problems that could have been easily avoided.
The first problem affected many runners.
The second problem affected most runners!
Lane management closer to the finish line was poor which affected runners finishing a longer distance (e.g. 42km) having to try to run past slower runners enjoying a different race distance (e.g. 10km). Rather than play around with adjusting only the start times, it would make sense to also segregate running lanes by race categories in the last kilometer, or even in the last mile.
Post-race process management was poor with very long queues of tired, even if elated runners, having to patiently wait for their chance to exit with medal and refreshment bag. When I land after a long international flight, I do not like to wait for ages in an immigration queue, or for my bags to arrive – especially when the journey itself was exhausting!
So, What Next? [top]
I am glad that I take on this self-imposed thankless task every January. Whether my relentless emotionless reporting has driven some of the improvements or not is immaterial. I am just glad to see that there is an improvement.
I hope that, through the year ahead, you pace yourself out through daily life with all the small actions driven by evolving thoughts.
Do keep a lookout for more interesting articles from me, based on things that are more important in life than running on a road for hours.
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.