They do not mind taking up the role of pace-makers and encourage the runners to clock better timings….

They love to make people run and promote the habit of running. It does not matter whether it is bred as a passion or a tool to unwind oneself. Or as a habit to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having indulged in serious running for quite some years, Savio D’Souza and Tanvir Kazmi know that running makes for better human beings. They do not mind taking up the role of pace-makers at major events like the Mumbai Marathon and the Delhi Half-Marathon and encourage the runners to clock better timings.

It is a normal thing for top long-distance athletes to seek the assistance of pace-makers in a race. It is not so for the amateur runners who run for the fun of it. Thus for a pace-maker to help such lay participants is more of a selfless act of seeing others happy than making money.

This is the first time that the Airtel Delhi Half-Marathon, scheduled for September 30, will have pace-makers for the normal runners. Savio, who represented the country at international level in the 1980s, has been assigned the duty of leading the group of people who are aspiring to break the two-hour barrier while Tanvir has been given the responsibility to lead the chunk that aims at returning a sub-two-and-a-half-hour time.

“I will be running with a flag so that people who aim at below two-hour timing can follow me. Since I have the experience, I know at what pace I have to run and how and when to go fast. I have to set the pace in such a way that I finish with a timing of 1:57 or 1:58,” says Savio, a former Pune marathon winner who has a personal best of 2:20:43 for 42 km. “Suppose I run the first 10 km within 57 minutes; then the next 11 km I have to run in an hour and one minute.”

Tanvir, who has participated in all the editions of the Delhi Half-Marathon, shares his experience. “In my first race, I had no idea about my finishing time. I did not know how to pace the race and struggled to finish it.”

“For lay people, the calculations often go wrong. They do something in training and get excited while running with others on the race day…The pace-maker has an idea as he can judge his own pace. Besides, a pace-maker motivates his group, interacts with them and discusses marathon related issues so that they stay entertained,” he explains.

Tanvir, a Delhi-based software engineer, has created a portal, www.delhirunners.com, to provide a platform to the running enthusiasts. “Earlier there was no forum where people could share their ideas and get information about various competitions. Now there is a group which interacts and gets information related to running.”

Tanvir, who organises training and competitions for common people, may not be a renowned athlete but he treasures his experience of participating in the Comrades ultra-marathon in South Africa in 2010.

“Around 20,000 people take part in the 90-km race, which one has to complete in 12 hours. I had finished it before three minutes of the cut-off time when the gates were closed. That is a moment I will always cherish,” says Tanvir.

Savio, a Mumbai-based professional trainer and coach for more than a decade, is pleased with the impact of the regular long-distance events on general people. “The overall interest in running has increased a lot. People are now more fitness conscious and running throughout the year. They are travelling places to participate in different events. Because of running, they are adopting better lifestyle and are quitting smoking and alcohol.”

Agrees Tanvir: “These days around 40-50 long distance running events are held all over the country. More and more people are now getting drawn towards running.”

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