Pacer Spotlight: Alex Radford
Introducing another member of our pacing community. Alex was part of our Maidenhead Half Marathon pacing team, bringing home runners in under 1h40. An experienced runner, he started over eight years ago and run-commutes to and from work every day. He’ll be running his eighth marathon later this year, with a 24-hour endurance race on the horizon for next year.
1. What’s happening in this photo?
That photo is me finishing the Jigsaw 10k in 39:06 last year. The celebration was because it was the first time I had ever broken 40 minutes for 10km. I had got to 9km and basically celebrated my way all the way to the finish line. It was the second part of a lifelong ambition to run 20 minutes for 5k, 40 minutes for 10k and 90 minutes for a half marathon. Three months later I did the final one, the half marathon with minutes to spare.
2. Which PBs are you most proud of and what are your PB targets for the next year?
I am most proud of my Boston Marathon time this year. 3:05:47. A strong headwind appeared at 20 miles which stopped me breaking 3 hrs but I fought on and loved every minute. I also think I broke the record for the number of people High-5’d in one race. My hand was stinging by the end but I didn’t care. I want to go back next year and break 3 hrs.
A few weeks ago I ran 18:28 at Rushmoor parkrun, the week after I remeasured the course and added 40 metres to it, which took 30 seconds off my PB. Felt like I was flying that day. I now want to get under 18 minutes by the end of the year if I can.
3. Which races would you recommend most highly?
There are so many races to choose from I could recommend different ones for different purposes. If you can qualify for the Boston marathon you have got to have a go at some point. It is so special. My goto 10k PB race is the Jigsaw 10k at Dunsfold Aerodrome. Flat as a pancake and round the Top Gear racetrack. If you like the trails and a few hills my favourite two are the Richmond Park Marathon and the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon / Half Marathon. In reality big or small race doesn’t matter, there are lots to just have a go at!
4. How and why did you get into pacing?
I really wanted to give something back to the running community. Over that last few years, I was out for myself, but when I joined parkrun I found that there is more to running than that. I paced a couple of parkruns and took groups out at my local running club at whatever pace they wanted. I was able to do it so I thought “why not”. I also get to see events I wouldn’t otherwise have entered which is a bonus.
5. Which events have you paced at and how did you find the experience?
I’ve just done the Maidenhead Half Marathon which was a brilliant experience. Watching the group that was around you for 11 miles or so start to run away from you with confidence is such a great feeling, knowing you have got them there is awesome. I have two favourite moments in my pacing career, the first was getting a lady called Claire Powley across the line with a massive sprint from 200m and encouragement less than 1 second inside 1 hr 40 was amazing. At another event bringing a runner down the last mile who said “I can’t do this, I’m not going to make it” inside 90 minutes for the first time was brilliant. You get such a buzz from doing it.
6. Is being a pace runner something you’d recommend to another runners, and if so why?
I wouldn’t recommend it because there would be less races for me to pace. Really, It’s really good fun and you don’t need to be a fast runner to pace.