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568. Calum Neff, Keira D'Amato's Berlin Marathon Pacer

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“We all get nervous. We all have this energy, whether it feels good or bad. We all get in the race and physically feel good and bad at different points. It’s just important to remember that that’s all normal, no matter what that is. So I just told her, ‘This is how it feels. This is how it’s gonna feel.’ And that was it. Game on.”

First, he paced Sara Hall at the Marathon Project. Then, he paced Keira D’Amato for her American Record at the Houston Marathon. Now, dad of three and stroller-running world record holder Calum Neff returns to the Ali on the Run Show to talk about his third major pacing opportunity: running with Keira again, this time at the Berlin Marathon. In this conversation — recorded while Calum was recovering in Italy — Calum talks all about the Berlin experience, where Keira was hoping to take down her own American record. He talks about their ambitious goal for race day, explains the low-mileage training that helped get him to the start line (training for an American record on just 30 miles per week?!), and talks about how he got the job this time around. Calum talks about the plan for Keira and the three pacers, raves about the pre-race highlights (hanging with Eliud Kipchoge!), explains the unique pressure of being a pacer, and shares the final words he said to Keira on the start line. Plus, how he pushed through his own tough parts of the race, the energy he got from Keira throughout the race, and what’s next on his race calendar.

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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • How Calum got the role as one of Keira’s Berlin Marathon pacers, and what his training was like (5:45)
  • “I’m Keira’s pacer, and I don’t know if I can do this” (10:20)
  • What Calum has learned about the delicate art of pacing (14:30)
  • The pacing plan for race day (19:00)
  • All about the pre-race activities (Kipchoge!) (20:45)
  • What race morning was like (26:35)
  • The sights and sounds from the early miles of the race (31:00)
  • What happens when the plan changes, and how Calum pushed through his own tough parts of the race (34:30)
  • On that moment during the race when Keira was given (and refused!) an out (40:00)
  • What the final miles of the race were like (44:50)
  • That finish line feeling — and the race-within-a-race to get there (50:50)
  • Calum’s post-race thoughts (55:00)
  • What makes pacing Keira, specifically, special (58:15)
  • Calum’s next race: representing Team Canada in the trail running world championships (1:01:50)

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