The Chicago Marathon has announced that it will no longer use a pace-setter, starting from the race on October 11, 2015, according to the reports of Chicago Tribune. It will be the first time that the marathon won’t be using these “helpers” since Carey Pinkowski, the race director, took over the leadership in 1990.
“We have always tried to blend pace and competition,” Pinkowski said in the interview. “But the athletes relied too much on the pace up front, and the chemistry of the competition has become too much about settling in behind the rabbits. Without the rabbits, the leaders need a much greater level of concentration. That will allow us to see more tactics, strategy and competition throughout the race.”
Pace-setter, or “rabbits,” are the runners used in racing on the roads and tracks in order to help athletes set a pace ideal in the early stages of a race. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, it was the 2014 Berlin Marathon that the rabbits were used for a minimum of 18.6 miles. It was the same marathon where Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto broke the world record.
Some believe that the use of these rabbits creates a less interesting race. It also removes a part of the responsibility for the decision of the runners at the beginning of the race, according to Milwaukee.
“This is a place where people always have come to run fast,” Pinkowski told the Tribune. “Great competition produces great performances.”
Pinkowski remains optimistic on the fact that the absence of a pace-setter cannot prevent the Chicago Marathon from getting a world record in the future, as well as a national record.
Reportedly, the Rabbits are not allowed in the other two U.S. marathon majors, namely Boston and New York.