Meet John, your 02:00 pacer

Name: John Burgess

Age: 57

Number of half marathons completed:13

Number of half marathons paced: 5

When did you decide to become a half marathon pacer and what prompted you to take on this important role?

As a member of Chorlton Runners, I was first asked to pace a half marathon in Leeds in 2018. This was my first go at pacing and I loved it to bits; helping others achieve their goals was just so rewarding. So here I am, having paced 5 half marathons and planning on a 6th at the Manchester Half this year!

How do you prepare for half marathon pacing? For example, do you have to train as the other participants do?

I train pretty much as I normally would for an event. However, ever since I did my first ultra a couple of years ago, I found that I enjoy running at a slower pace. Because of this, I lead a slow long run at my every Sunday, which I always look forward to. I’m also a regular gym-goer – strength training in particular is really important to prevent injuries and to feel strong.

What are some of the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ you have experienced in the role?

Well, I certainly don’t think I’ve had any lows! The highs are chatting to new people; encouraging them along the route to success; and helping them to achieve their goals. Plus, it’s always nice when someone taps you on the back after your run and says “thanks for keeping me going – because of you I got a PB!”

Do you feel any pressure being a pacer? If so, how do you manage that?

I’ve never felt any pressure pacing as for me it’s just another run. I always pace within my limits so it’s not too fast. I suppose the only pressure would be to get under the specific pacing time, which I’ve always done.

How do you take care of your body, so that you are fit to run so many marathons/ half marathons?

I’ve always been a very active person. I go to the gym most days to work out and keep my muscles strong and injury-proof. Even on days when I’m not doing much physical activity, I often chill out in the swimming pool and do ‘hydro running’ which is running drills in the water. It’s great for your muscles and recovering from sessions.

What is your one piece of advice for someone who’s marathon target time is the one you are pacing at the Manchester Half?

My best bit of advice if you are running with me is to trust me and don’t concern yourself by looking at your watch too often. I will always update you at every mile – you’re in safe hands!

What is your experience of the Manchester Half Marathon specifically?

Manchester is my ‘hometown’ half marathon and my PB course, so it’s pretty special to me. Manchester has a great route, loud and proud spectators and some of the best places to celebrate after the event. What’s not to love?!

When the hard work is over, what’s the best way to celebrate after an event in Manchester?

For me, I love a few beers and a cheeky Chinese!