The Power of a Pacer

I admit, I cried through like 25% of Born to Run (I’m a sap). The parts that got to me were always the ones where one person did something difficult to help another person finish the race.

… Jenn wobbled into the aid station. She stood in front of the food table, stupid with fatigue, too tired to eat and too fuzzy-headed to decide what to do instead. All she knew was if she sat down, she wouldn’t get back up.

‘Let’s go, Mook!’ someone shouted.

Billy had just arrived and was pulling off his jacket. Underneath, he had on surf shorts and a rock band T-shirt with the sleeves torn off. Some marathoners are thrilled when a friend paces them through the last two or three miles; Billy was jumping in for the full marathon. Jenn felt her spirits rising. The Bonehead. What a guy.

‘You want some more pizza?’ Billy asked.

‘Ugh. No way.’

‘All right. Ready?’

‘Right on.’

The two of them set off down the trail. Jenn ran silently, still feeling awful and debating whether to return to the aid station and quit. Billy coaxed her along just by being there. Jenn struggled through one mile, then another, and something strange began to happen: her despair was replace by elation, by the feeling that damn, how cool it was to be wandering this amazing wilderness under a burning sunset, feeling free and naked and fast, the forest breeze cooling their sweating skin.

By 10:30 that night, Jenn and Billy had passed every other runner in the woods except one. Jenn didn’t just finish; she was the second runner overall and the fastest woman to ever run the course, breaking the old record by three hours…”

Your weekly McDougall Born to Run (147).


2 thoughts on “The Power of a Pacer

    • I didn’t read it until this year, so I got the news a little late, but I was pretty sad too. I got obsessed with reading all of the articles about the search to find him… even though it was long after-the-fact.


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