Pacing Teams

We have another fantastic team of pacers this year. Some are old friends who’ve been with us a long time, but we’re also delighted to welcome a couple of new pacers this year.

A massive thank-you to the River Lee Hotel for accommodating our travelling pacers. We know, as always, that they’ll be treated like royalty!

Come and meet some of the pacing team at the Expo in City Hall on Saturday 4th June. The Meet the Pacers stand is a great chance for you to chat with the team and get some helpful advice for race day.

2015 Cork Marathon pacing team

What’s a Pacer:

A pacer is someone who gives up their own race time to try to help others get under a specific time. The Cork City Marathon has a professional vastly experienced team of pacers placed at every 15 minutes starting at 3hours and ending at 5 hours. Some of our Pacers have represented their countries, some are ultra-marathon runners and all have bags of experience. The pacers (at least 2 at each time slot) will run the race at an even pace and finish the race just under their predicted time. Pacers will generally cross the line 30 seconds ahead of schedule to allow for runners who are struggling over the last mile of the race to get in on time. Pacers pace chip time rather than gun time so don’t panic when you see the clock coming at the finish line the pacer will be pacing according to when they crossed the start line so it’s important to start in the correct area where your pacer is.

How to Use the Pacer and what to consider:

When deciding whether to follow a pacer or not a runner should take a few things into consideration and understand how the pacer is measuring his/her pace. The pacer will use their GPS watch as a guide only and will be measuring pace accurately from mile markings marked on the road. Runners need to understand that some miles can in fact be longer than others on their GPS if there are many twists and turns in a particular mile. It is not uncommon for a runner to run 26.4 miles or more in the Cork City Marathon or similar Boston qualifier events as the course is measured to a high degree of accuracy. A runner will not always follow the shortest route and at times will run wide due to the crowd or just naturally. Therefore the difference between 26.21 and 26.4 miles will also need to be taken into consideration when pacing accurately. You will find that the first few miles you run in Cork are actually longer than miles at the end due to runner congestion and twists and turns on the course. So your own GPS may have you running 10 seconds faster than your target pace and beeping well in advance of the mile marker. That is because you have run a little bit extra. So if you had targeted an 8-minute mile pace to get 3 hour 30 minute marathon time in a race the pace that will appear on your watch to get under the 3 hours 30 will most likely be somewhere around 7.55 pace and will go as fast as 7.50 or even 7.45 at times. On downhills, pace may naturally pick up also.

Also, consider that at certain times in the race you may struggle but you may regain momentum later. It would be a bad choice at times when you are struggling to religiously keep step for step with the pacer if you are not able to do so. It would be wiser in these circumstances just to keep the pacer within vision, maybe allow a little gap to appear, and close this gap on a downhill or at a time when you are feeling better.

The pacer may also bag a tiny bit of time to allow runners to slow down slightly running up the two hills towards the end of the course when they might be struggling. Pacers will gain this time evenly over the first 16 miles or so of the race. It would be common for pacers to be 1 minute ahead of time coming into mile 16 to allow some time be lost over the last two hills which can be challenging. It won’t seem like you are slowing down though as effort levels will be very high at this stage.

The following are the 2023 pacing teams for the marathon and half marathon:


Mr. Motivator
Aidan Hogan
Aidan will be running up and down the course helping people out.

Pacers Full Marathon:
3:00 Arkadiusz Skupin, Darragh Mulcahy and Olympian Aoife Cooke!
3.15 Alex o Shea and Jacek Latala
3.30 Dante Aquino, Chris Grayson
3:45 Ger O’Toole and Brian Ankers
4:00 Anna Klimek, Anne Jennings and Akram Shalabi
4:15 Jimmy Kelly and Dave Stack
4:30 Paula Wright and John Chapman
4:45 Paul Hogan and Gary Dixon (THE PARTY BUS)
5:00 Johnny Healy and Michelle Burke

Half Marathon

Pacers Half Marathon:

1:30 Sean O’Keeffe, Noel Selorm
1:40 Bryan Crowley and Brian Ahern
1:45 Richard Hawkins and Breda Walsh
1:50 Ed Dunphy and Anthony Creed
2:00 Elaine Guinane, Eimear Burke and Ed Fitz
2:10 Donal O’Donoghue and Michelle Greaney
2:20 Tamara Lopez and Danielle Hegarty
2:30 Aine Crotty and Mike Collins


Pacers 10K:

40 Gary Walsh
45 Ruairi Egan
50 Karen Bevan
60 Geraldine Hartnett
65 Sheila Magorrian

Scroll down to find out more about them and read all their tips and tricks on how to improve your racing time

Find out about the Pacers

Find out what the pacers do and learn from their tips, tricks and advice

General questions from our CCM readers on social media for our Pacers: 

Even or negative splits?

This is a Personal Choice and should also take into consideration the inclines and declines of a particular course. In Cork the first half is flatter than the second half which makes negative splits that bit more difficult. The pacers will be running slightly slower going up hills and slightly faster going down. The pacers will also take into consideration that some of the runners in the group will slow down towards the end so may bag a tiny bit of time (2 or 3 seconds per mile) evenly over the first half of the race. You will often see pacers approach the line 30 seconds before their finish time and try to encourage a few more people over the line in those 30 seconds.

Is every km the same pace irrespective of hills?

Pacers will run even effort. Pacers pace themselves per mile off the mile markings that are painted on the road. The pacers will know when crossing those mile markers how many seconds they are up or down. Pacers will generally slow down slightly going up hills and go a little bit faster going down hills, the effort will be the same.

Is there a 4-hour pacer?

Yes there are two 4 hour pacers Anna Klimek, Anne Jennings and Akram Shalabi.

Can anyone pace themselves? 

If you are going for a particular time whether there is a pacer or not for that time runners can pace themselves also by printing off a pace band for that time (can be found easily online) before the race. Then using their GPS watch as a pace guide they can pace themselves off the mile markers painted on the road.

When you’re pacing a 5k, how do you do it to break a time or if you’re pacing someone else?

In general for a runner who wants to break a particular time for a 5 k they should firstly work out what pace per km would get them to finish under their 5k time. For example 30 mins for 5k would be 6 minute per KM. Or 20 mins would be 4 minute per KM. They then should follow this pace on their GPS watch maybe giving themselves a few seconds per KM to account for running wide on occasion or potential tiredness at the end. 

Will there be a 3:30 pacer? 

Will there what! Dante Aquino, Chris Grayson will be pacing 3 hours 30 mins.

Only starting my marathon training now as had shin splits last 2 weeks, enough time?

It’s very difficult to give advice on this as it depends on the extent of the injury and also previous fitness and achievements as well as your overall goal for the marathon. It may be a tough ask if its your first marathon. However, my advice would be to set out a plan that starts with lowish and slow miles and build bit by bit according to how you feel. It would be wise to seek the advice of a physio that knows running. It’s crucial to look after any injury, get physio and follow the advice in particular exercises etc given by the physio. 

What time pacers will there be for the marathon?

In the full marathon, there will be pacers every 15 mins from 3 hours to 5. So 3, 3:15, 3.30, 3:45 etc all the way to 5 hours.

In the half marathon, pacers will be every ten minutes from 1:30 to 2:30 with an additional bonus group of pacers on the popular time of 1:45. So 1:30, 1:40, 1:45, 1:50, 2, 2:10, 2:20 and 2:30.

Does someone else step in if you get injured during the race?

Each pacing group has 2 pacers. This is to cover potential injuries. The pacers run multiple marathons every year so are well used to the distance and are running well below their capabilities e.g. the 3:30 pacers are sub 3-hour runners etc. Most of the pacers have a half hour to spare on their PBs if not more. The 3-hour pacing group has extra safety built in as we have one pacer who will run the whole race, Mark Messitt, while the pacing team from St. Finbarrs AC who pace sub 3 every year for us will cover the race in turns. These guys are a very well-oiled machine. This ensures that this time is well covered with resilience built in for every possible outcome. We have never had a pacing group both get injured. The odd injury does occur but has never affected the time goal.

What’s the longest distance you should run in prep for the first marathon?

There are lots of different theories on this. My own personal view is that 20 miles maybe 21 max is the longest distance you should run while training for your first marathon.

Do pacers feel the pressure of having to ensure they stick to that pace/time?

Pressure is for tyres! The pacers do take their role very very seriously and there is a difference in how you feel before a marathon you are pacing or a marathon running for yourself. You are very aware of the job you have to do while pacing and concentration levels need to be up so you stick to the pace. You don’t want to let anyone down. We are constantly looking at our watches making sure the pace is even. Please though do cut the pacer a bit of slack as you must remember that at the end of the Cork City Marathon your watch will actually show you have ran 26.4 miles at least (as you will have run longer than the shortest route no matter how dedicated you are to run the race line) and also the pacer will aim to be crossing the line with about 30 seconds to spare. So this time spread over the 26 odd miles will mean for example that a 3:30 pacer will be running 7 mins 54-55 pace rather than 8-minute pace. So your pacer is not running too fast. Some miles will be slightly faster than others also as some miles are flat and some have hills. Even effort is what the pacers are aiming for. 

I’ve been sick for the last month and couldn’t train, will I be able for the half marathon in time?

This very much depends on how sick you were and your fitness levels before you got sick and your running experience. Always take doctors’ advice and it’s difficult for me to answer this question. Your best approach is to set yourself a training plan that starts will low slow mileage and build according to how you feel.

Is it better to start slow and gradually increase the pace, or start fast? 

Here I can only answer in general terms really. Its largely accepted that an even pace or a slight negative split (second half slightly faster than the first) is the best approach to getting a Personal Best.

What I do know is that if you start at a pace you can’t hold you are likely to lose serious time in the second half of the race. I have often heard the theory that you could lose twice as much as you have gained. Remember if you hit the wall with 4 or 5 miles to go you could drop 2 minutes a mile for the remaining miles. You could even hit the wall much earlier than that making the final part of the marathon very very uncomfortable.

Do you need any more pacers by any chance?

We are always on the lookout for new pacers. While slots are full for this year, every year we have a couple of pacers that are new to us but have lots of running experience. We always like to have a big pool of pacers.

Join us on the June bank holiday weekend for a unique run through the streets of Cork city.

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