A professional Pacer or Pacemaker is frequently employed by race organizers for world record attempts with specific instructions for lap times. Some athletes have essentially become professional pacemakers. A competitor who chooses the tactic of leading in order to win is called a front-runner rather than a pacemaker. This is according to Wikipedia.
The NY Times recently explored the profession of Pacers or Pacemaking and followed Erik Sowinski on his journey being a Pacer or as it is sometimes called a rabbit. A three-time national champion, he finished third in the 800 meters at the world indoor championships in 2016.
What is unique is that Pacers such as Erik is paid by meet directors to set the pace of the race and then never finish the race.
High-profile races often employ Pacers who are followed by high-end runners such as Yared Nuguse, a rising star who followed Sowinski at the Millrose Games before setting an American record for the indoor mile, finishing in 3:47.38, an incredible sub 4 minute time.
Check out the NY Times article below
Meet the Runner Who Leads Every Pack and Then Vanishes
Erik Sowinski is a professional pacer, a talented runner who is in high demand on starting lines, and nowhere to be found at the finish.
By Scott Cacciola Published Feb. 25, 2023
Erik Sowinski had one job earlier this month at the Millrose Games in New York: to run a half-mile, or about 800 meters, in 1 minute 53 seconds.
Before the race, Sowinski experienced his usual butterflies, an electric mix of nerves and excitement that signaled it was time to perform. Sure enough, Sowinski immediately bolted to the front of a 13-man field before an enthusiastic crowd at the Armory in Washington Heights.
As he circled the 200-meter track, Sowinski occasionally peered over his left shoulder. Behind him were Olympians and world-championship finalists who, in a twist, we’re depending on Sowinski to maintain his lead. And after a half-mile, his first-place split flashed on the video board: 1:52.99.