While I know having a pacer helps immeasurably in the last part of a 100 miler, I personally see it as cheating myself of the complete challenge of running a 100 miler on my own - It's simply not for me. For the Vermont 100 last summer, I picked up my iPod when most runners picked up their pacers. This year, however, when I grab for my iPod at mile 72.5, I'll also be "picking up" a special guest pacer, Mr. Max Thomas.
Max is a 10th grade honors student up in Maine who is currently fighting one hell of a battle with a brain tumor. He and his family have made a couple trips to my friends at Dana Farber in Boston this past week, and I'm hopeful they can work some of their magic in planning out the next steps in his treatment. From what I hear he's pretty good skier, so I'll be thinking positive thoughts to help him get out of those claustrophobic MRI and PET scan machines and back to wide open slopes and fresh air of New England.
When I "pick up" Max as my honorary pacer, I'll make it a point to tell every runner I speak with during and after the race about his story. There's an unbelievable sense of camaraderie between runners on a 100 mile race course, and if I can motivate even one or two of my friends out there to contribute a little time/money to a cancer charity, then we've already made a difference. July's "Run 192" will be the big charity run for this year, but it's never too soon to start thinking about making an effort to help out kids like Max. After all, we could all use the help of a pacer in life every now and then, right?
You can follow along with Max's story on his journal here: http://www.caringbridge.org