Deepthi Velkur catches up with the PaceMakers who bagged 13 podium finishes across marathons in a single weekend.
As the dawn breaks and the chirping of birds fills the air, there is a rush of feet and the buzz of excited chatter as the runners from the group gather together, heading for the bright sunshine and open roads beckoning them. Left behind are apprehensions and the fading echoes of yesterday’s stress.
The PaceMakers are a running group of spirited long distance (from 10K to Marathon) runners of all abilities –novice to experienced, who train under the leadership and guidance of Coach Pani who strongly believes that the group’s greatest strength is “training as one family”.
The structure, the planning, the determination all came together the weekend of 16th December 2018. As they trudged along and participated in 2 big events – Tata Steel Kolkata Marathon and Thump! Celebration Bangalore Marathon, no one could have predicted the stunning outcome – 13 podium finishes across categories and age-groups.
The secret to their success
Here at the PaceMakers, Coach Pani strongly believes that “the camaraderie shared, planning of strategies to run in groups before a race, pacing other runners to achieve their goals and motivating each other especially, when they are down with injuries or sickness is what keeps us together and achieve success”.
He goes on to add, ” To be very frank and honest we always win more podiums in the Thump Celebration Event which happens in December. It could be because of lesser competition from other running groups, runners prefer to take part in different events conducted across India, running events getting clashed with each other etc. But, I will not take away the credit of my runners who work hard throughout the year to give their best in this event as it is the last Time Trial before the Big Mumbai Marathon which is conducted in the third week of January every year. One thing I will emphasize here is that we have to judge an athlete with the timings they clock in the events provided the distance is accurate no matter the competitions”.
Surpassing their own PBs
To be able to be the best version of yourself in a race, you need to be consistent, focused and self-determined. It works no different here as most of these runners have achieved PB’s in these races. What really makes this group so special is the fact that they train consistently year after year with a realistic goal in mind and working towards it with a structured plan. “Our biggest strength in training is working in groups, motivating each other to give their best in every training run”, adds Coach Pani.
“We have some top-notch athletes in our group like Thomas Bobby Philip, Shamala Manmohan, Nanjundappa M etc. who are regular podium winners. But, others work hard to win. It is their consistent training throughout the year and the camaraderie within the group that motivates each one of them to bring out their best. They follow the basics and the principles of training right which makes them a better athlete”.
Leading from the front
Leading by example plays a very important role in motivating runners to come out of their comfort zones and push the boundaries. To this he says, “leading from the front helps not only in winning the podiums but also while training along with them. It motivates them to give their best when some of the younger runners in the group find it difficult to cope with me during the races and training. By training along with me they learn the good things which I have been following throughout my running career”.
Coach Pani finishes off by saying, “When our runners give their PB performance in every race it gives us the satisfaction that our training is going in the right direction and we can achieve more in the near future. It motivates the beginners and newcomers to emulate like their seniors”.
2018 has been a splendid year for the group and they have now set the bar higher moving into the new year and this will only reiterate to them that determination and commitment can go a long way and help them achieve greater success.