Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2:30 Finish Pacing Strategy

I am the official pacer for the 2:30 bus (or pacing group, i.e. people who are running with the objective of finishing the run in under 2:30 hours) at the 2012 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. This is the first time that Procam, the organizers of the event, have introduced pacers at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon after having successfully tried the same at this years Mumbai Marathon (where I was the pacer for 5:30 finish). There would be pacers for the 2:00 hours, 2:30 hours and 3:00 hours finish time goals. There will be two pacers for each target finish time, so in all, 6 pacers. You can see the list of all pacers on the event website.

My BIB#: 6746 | Starting group: B | Target finish time: 2:30

What’s the Pacer’s job?

Whether you’re new to the 21.1KM half marathon distance or a marathon veteran, you can join the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon pace team  for help with running a steady pace and achieving your race-day time goal. Each pace team leader is a seasoned and reliable marathoner who will offer coaching and support throughout the race.

Pace team leaders will run the half marathon at an even pace, meaning that every KM will be run in approximately the same amount of time at a constant pace. The pacers will target to finish the half marathon no more than two minutes faster than the goal time, based on gun time. Which means if the race started at 6:40 am and you (or the pacer) crossed the starting line at 6:44 am (due to the rush and people in front), for a 2:30 finish target time, the pacer should be at the finish line by 9:10 am (and not 9:14 am), which means the pacer will have to cover the required 21.1KM distance in 2:26 hours and not 2:30.

The Pacing Strategy

For a 2:30 finish at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, we would be targeting to run at a constant pace throughout the race. Throughout the run, we will be stopping at all the water points, take a couple of sips of water from the 200 ml bottles which will be available at the water points, and walk for about 30-40 seconds while we drink water, and then restart with our running. We can expect to see water points at approximately every two kilometer, which means we will be taking a little break every 14 mins or so.

How fast would we be running during the race? We have 2:30 hours to finish it, which means, we should be covering every kilometer at a pace of 150 minutes / 21.1 KM = 7.1 minutes / KM. But we know that we would be walking for about 10-15 times during the run, and the plan is also to walk up any inclines which we are bound to encounter on the route. So, we have to budget time for that also, and so, we have to run a bit faster as a result. So, our actually running pace would finally be in the region of 6:30 mins/KM (for the first half of the half marathon) to 6:40 mins / KM (for the second half of the half marathon). That should be good to make is reach our goal within the target time of 2 hours 30 minutes.

Pacing Chart

2012 Route Map

There have been very minor changes to the route which was used for the 2011 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. On the right is the 2012 route (click to open in larger size). If you would look in great detail, you will see that they have removed a small section after the Ashoka Road roundabout, and extended the section on the Parliament street.



2011 Route Map

This is the actual GPS route map from my Garmin watch captured during the 2011 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Click on it to view more details, as well as to check out the elevation data for the route.

How To Find Me On Race Day?

That’s a bit tough, isn’t it, when there are thousands around you! But the organizers have made it a bit easy. I will be running carrying a flag on my back which lists my pacing time, i.e. 2:30 prominently on it (see the image on the top-right of this article to see how that flag looks like). I will be wearing a T-shirt with the words “Tanvir 2:30 Pace Team” prominently written on the back. I have been assigned a ‘B’ starting section (i.e. runners who finished their last half marathon between 2 and 3 hours).

I would expect that the set of people who would want to finish in 2:30 would come from the ‘B’ group (those who ran last time between 2:30 and 3:00 hours, but many also from the ‘C’ group (most first timers). So, my plan is to start from the very end of the ‘B’ group and only start running when some of the runners at the start of the ‘C’ group have already overtaken me. This will at least help me in catching the folks who probably need me the most, i.e. first time runners from the ‘C’ group.

So, for people in the ‘B’ group ahead of me, I would say just go ahead and start running at your own pace, and when I catch up with you (if I do at all) then we can start running together. And to the ‘C’ group people, I would say that try to be in the front of the ‘C’ group, otherwise there is a high chance you will have to chase me down a bit, or even miss me, since I cannot wait for too much time before starting my run. That said, I would not be running fast, so people from behind should not have much trouble catching up. This should be fair to both ‘B’ group and ‘C’ group people.

Other Do’s And Don’ts

Check them out on the other pacing article I wrote earlier for the Mumbai Marathon, I am sure that would be very useful and I do not want to repeat the same content in this article again. There are quite a few useful tips for runners related to hydration, food, etc.


48 thoughts on “Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2:30 Finish Pacing Strategy”

  1. Hello Tanvir, This is my 3rd AD Half marathon this year. First time I had completed in 2.30 M and last year my score was 2.07 M, but now I would like to finish within 2.00 Hrs. Kindly suggest me, how I can prepare for this forthcoming ADHM.

  2. Hi…

    Here i am vivek from lucknow , m too glad to tell you i have complete my 21 km in 2 hrs . i m running from last 2 month.
    I want to participate in half merathan.
    So plz suggest me how to come know about the rule of merathan if any Nd what would necessary thing carry over the merarhan.
    I hear recently in news but not confirm , half merathan is conducting in bhopal MP on coming Saturday. Can you confirm me if possible Broz i want to participate .

    Vivek kumar

  3. I am located in small town in UP. Missed out on the registeration for the ADHM 2014. Will be in Delhi on 23 Nov and want to participate in ADHM. I am not a professional and not on alook out for prizes. Want to test myself and know that I can complete the run. Please help. Of course I am willing to pay the registeration fee.
    If somebody is dropping out …..

  4. Hi Tanvir,

    Thanks for the article and list of pacers. I am in section F and just want to know how to join any bus from this section.
    I have finished 21 km 2 months back in 2:43.


  5. Hello,

    i am 28 year old mummy. i have participated in races at college levels. now after 3 years i want to participate in marathon & half-marathon. pls tell me the process to participate in the same & from where to take training and give me any contact no if possible.

  6. Hi tanvir

    Very informative blog thanks. I wanted to know if you had any tips to handle the heat particularly in the second half of the run. I have done 18k in 1 hr 56 recently, but the weather here is somewhat hotter than my practice run (I live in Singapore). Also I reckon with my timing I should run with you as 2 would be too fast for me?


    1. A cap would surely help, particularly during the second half when there is absolutely no cover. You look to be a good candidate for a 2:15 kind of finish, so I guess 2:30 might just be a bit slow for you. But you might want to run with us for maybe the first half and then take it as you feel.

  7. Hello Mr Kazmi,
    My name is Manik Dhodi and I take care Mall & Hotel division of a real estate company. I am 34 years of age. I have have restarted gym and running 2 years back, after a break of 7 years.7 I had started running outdoor about 2 months back from 3 kms, and have just done 2 runs of 16 kms in 97 minutes in last two weeks. I want to finish the run in less than 2 hrs 30 minutes.I would be glad to be a part of your bus, and am hopeful that you would give me an oppurtunity.Thanks & Regards

    1. Nitin, you can carry anything which you already carry during your training. Don’t overload yourself too much. No need to carry water, you should find sufficient on the route.

  8. Hi Tanvir,
    I am first timer and started warming up almost 15 days back with back injury which is much better now after lot of back stretchings, i worked hard on strengthening lower body muscles and doing almost 8 km/hr but thats the maximum i tried in last 10-15 days, and i just want to finish the race! and which pacing group i shall look for?? shall i carry a pain killer along with me on the race day??

    1. Mahesh, it would be a good idea to start with the 3 hour pacing group. Pain killers should be avoided, but keep something handy in case it is required (brufen or similar which you have already used before and are comfortable with).

  9. Hi Tanvir

    I’ve religiously trained for this half marathon and my last half marathon time was 2.30. Looking forward to chase you as pacer. Any advises for me for the last few days? Read your mint article, it was awesome. Comrades is my dream too. Surely, it was a giant leap.

    1. Gaurav, see you at ADHM. Just take it easy now, you have already done the hard part. Take it easy on Sat and keep drinking (water 🙂

  10. Hi Tanvir,
    I am running the ADHM for the first time. I have religiously trained for this marathon as laid out in the training plan on the pro cam website. Till2 weeks back , I had been running at a pace of 8 kms per hour, but then fell sick because of chest infection . I am now good after antibiotics but still have little cough . My speed has fallen to 7.5 kms an hour. I am worried, whether I will be able to finish the race in 3 hours. I want to finish in 3 hours, as I have really trained hard for it. Any help is appreciated.

    1. Taking good rest should help you. Don’t worry if you are not able to train at all this week, being fit on the race day is more important. So, I hope you now keep away from antibiotics and do well on race day!

  11. Hi Tanvir, i am first timer for this event but quite passionate about running, i have been running since long but just for fun. But this time i want to make it serious, i did 16k in almost 2.25 hrslast week only, and that was maximum effort i can put, so please suugest me some valuable points that might help me on the big day. I really want to complete this race within timeline which might boost my motivation for the running.

    1. First of all, dont miss the 3 hour pacing group led by Venkat / Gaurav. Those are really good guys and should help you a lot running with them. 16K in training is fantastic, the hard work is done. Now just enjoy the race day and take it easy. Have some light breakfast and hour or two before race, and keep drinking small quantities of water at every water point.

  12. hi it was inspiring to read about u.I am running for the first time in C category.Can I take u as pacer/ What are the benifits and the terms for doing the same.Thanks

    1. Gayatri, running with a pacer and the entire pacing group will be a motivating experience, instead of running alone which would be tougher. You will have to spot me carrying the flag which reads “2:30”. I will be at the end of ‘B’ section so try to be at the front of ‘C’ to catch me.

  13. Excellent article by you! I am running my first ADHM. Could you advise me the specific activities – pre run on Sept.30. Especially regarding the food we should eat before the run and the timing for same. Best Regards. Atul

    1. Atul, you can have some light food like maybe a bread toast with some milk or fruit juice an hour or two before the race, a banana would help too. Keep drinking water regularly till 15 mins before the run and then stop. Continue drinking water at all water points, the 200 ml bottle is good for that.

      1. Hi Tanvir,

        Really appreciate your effort in replying so fast! I definitely will stick o your guidelines.

        Thanks a ton!

        Best Regards,


  14. Hi Tanveer,

    thanks for the great article you posted. I did around 14 k in 1.5 hours and this has been my longest stretch. This is my first ADHM half marathon run; though i have run in Gurgaon Half last Dec where I completed in 2.50.

    Do you suggest I join you for 2.30 bus or will I end up exhausting myself too early?

    Please advice.


    1. Hi Alok, 2:30 should be a comfortable target for you. In fact, with proper rest this week, you may end up going faster. I suggest you do at least 10K with us, and if you are feeling good at that point, go ahead and run a faster 2nd half.

  15. Hi Tanvir,

    Thanks a lot for all the wonderful blogs here with lot of insights to what actually happens during the D day of the running. I went through your pacing strategy for last year’s Mumbai marathon as well as this year’s Delhi half marathon. I’m a runner with couple of half marathon experiences behind me and I strive to go for negative splits – with a slow first half and a strong second half and maximum of 2 or 3 walk breaks. I generally finish the race at around 2:31, 2:32..But your pacing strategy is different. Is there any specific reason that you are not trying to adopt a negative split strategy for pacing?

    1. Mangesh, for most first timers, the fact is that that they will get tired and second half is bound to be slower. Negative splits need a lot of experience. And, as a pacer, I would be trying to follow the style which most runners are already doing in their training.

  16. Hi Tanver,

    I am first timer. Have been doing running just for fun since my childhood but this will be the first time I will be doing it as timed event. Hope to catch you up from Cat-C.

    Happy Pacing

  17. Hi Tanvir,

    It’s great reading your blog that’s just not informative but inspiring too. I’m not a regular runner 🙁 but started walking briskly in morning which also got discontinued after a week’s time due to cold fever and have not exercised for more than a week since then. I’m participating in GreatRun 6km stretch. My last (complete) run(/walk) w/o practise was Dan’s challenge last November. Any tips for keeping good till finish on D-day !!

    1. Dont worry, just focus on rest if you still have cold, and maybe a KM or two of light running this week, and you should be good for the race day.

  18. Hi Tanvir,

    What you have here is great. I must thank you for writing such a detailed and descriptive blog. I ran ADHM for the first time last year and completed in 178 mins. This year I plan to finish anytime between 150 – 165 mins. These past weeks during my prep for the ADHM I have been running running at a pace of 7.5-8 mins a kilometer which gradually drops in the subsequent hour to 8.5 – 9.0 as the fatigue sets in. If I run at a faster pace it tires me. At this stage with five days to go why do you think I should be looking at doing before the race and during it to be able to meet my set goal of completing the run in 2.30-2.45 hrs? Some inputs from you would really help!

    Thanks and all the best for the run! Hope I get to meet you on Sunday.

    1. Give your training pace of 7.5-8/KM, I would not suggest for an 2:30 goal. I think 2:45 is more realistic but still aggresive. Don’t worry too much about the finish time, I think just finishing faster than your last years time would be a great achievement.

  19. Hi Tanvir, I am hoping to find you on the race day. Am in Sec-B so will start with my pace and join you somewhere en-route. You have mentioned about flyovers. Didnt know there was any in the route( as last yr). Which flyover is it that your are referring to? Thx

    1. Thanks for pointing this out. I have corrected my article to refer to any serious inclines rather than any flyovers. You are right, this run is no flyover run! 🙂

  20. Hi Tanvir..ADHM-12 will be my first long run(college level 800/1500 mtrs runner)..Started training from first week of sept.. have already run 8,10,12,15 kms at the pace of 6 minutes/km…today ran 10km at the same pace after a week(during the week just streched and did short runs)..Please suggest me about 1-rest of day’s running plan …2- diets? 3-Should I join 2.00 hrs bus (I want to)
    Thanx in advance..

    1. Do just two easy runs of 5K and 3K now and then rest sufficiently for the race day. Don’t walk around too much on Saturday. Take your normal food like chapatis, rice, vegetables and fruits, nothing special. On Sat, focus on regularly sipping water throughout the day. For a sub 2:00 finish, a regular pace of under 5:30/KM is required, so it looks tough. But go ahead and give it a shot with the 2:00 hour bus. It would be a great experience running with them.

  21. I have stiff hamstrings and they pain while running, should I in for marathon ,list year I did adhm dn the first time and finished in 230min, should I take pacer for 230or aim at more or less timings, I have missed last 10days at. Training and been totally sedentary during last. Almost two weeks , can I , kindly suggest if I can still in for run and should I opt for pacer, dn .advise how you can get pacers, thanks

    1. Hi Dimple, take this week very easy and do not do any long distance running. Just do one 5K and one 3K run and no more. I would still suggest you start with the 2:30 pacer. How to find pacers, please check this article again, I have updated it.

    1. Hi Rohit, try to follow a healthy food which primarily comprises of carbohydrates (the running fuel), proteins (repair and recovery food) and less quantities of fat. You can get Carbs from bananas, wheat, potatoes, etc. Proteins from beans, milk and milk products, white mean, eggs, etc. Focus on carbohydrates on the last 2-3 days before the race, and keep drinking water regularly.

  22. Dear Tanvir, firstly thnx for your talk at Max, it was really inspiring and then i read your blog on comrades, it got me goosebumps and a desire to do the same someday. I have been running regularly for past one year except three months this year from Apr – Jun when i was recovering from an injury, i have been running regularly in the past one month. Ran a 12k race last sunday in 67 min. However i have not run longer than 14k till now, planning to do a final 15-16k this sunday. Do you think i should join the 2:00 bus. thanks.

    1. Hi Rajeev, I suggest you go ahead and join the 2:00 hours bus. With a little bit of rest with the ‘taper’, and the motivation of the experienced pacers and the pacing group, I am sure you will find that extra energy to take you towards a sub 2hour finish! All the best!

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