Today’s Friday Friend is Gary Dixon. Gary will be well known to many runners on the marathon circuit in his role as a pacer.
I (Jacquie) met Gary at The Comrades marathon in 2013. My first encounter with him was in an airport lounge in Johannesburg where the lounge TV screen was showing Liverpool FC’s top 100 goals. We established that we were both Liverpool fans and the friendship started. The next insight into the type of person Gary was was when he introduced me as his ‘older’ sister to the hotel staff in order to get me an upgrade. Cam therefore automatically became his niece and her first encounter with Uncle Gary was as he appeared out of a portaloo dressed as Mr Incredible at Chester Racecourse (2013 Chester Marathon). I always knew that they would get on but from that moment it was as if they really were family (peas in a pod).
As I mentioned previously, Gary is well known in the running world, internationally, because of his work as a pacer. He spends his time during races encouraging others to achieve their goals and make marathon running as much fun and as entertaining as possible. It could be argued that he sometimes hinders progress because runners go back year after year to join Gary on his bus putting PB’s on hold.
Gary has now run over 170 marathons and countless other races at all distances. He declares his nationality as ‘A Scouser’ and through his pacing ensures that no one ever has to run alone.
Lets hear what the man of few words has to say!!!!
Why do you run/what do you get from running/why did you start:
Amongst other things I run because if I didn’t I would be borderline obese. Quite simply I have an awful diet; little self discipline and running allows me to carry on like this. That said, I run most days 3-4 mile. My runs are typically early morning before work and set me up for the day and helps get my mind clear and ticking over for the day ahead.
Best running achievement:
Without doubt pacing the iconic Comrades Marathon. Not only was I brave (or stupid) enough to pace it in 2018, I went back and did it in 2019. Pacing 56 hilly miles was a big ask and I was really proud and emotional to bring my bus home on both occasions.
Running bucket list:
My running bucket list is pretty complete now. My priorities have changed in recent months as my granddaughter has emigrated to Australia so funds and time will be directed in that area after my 2019 commitments. That said, I still have an aim/ambition to pace 100 marathons so am sure I will chalk up some new events along the way. Comrades 2019 was my 50th as a pacer so I have a long way to go to reach my target.
(NB We also have first hand knowledge that Gary would like to complete a 100 mile race!)
Without doubt Comrades. Anybody who has done it will tell you why. From the time you arrive in South Africa it is a magical, life changing experience. A close second for me will always be the Chester Marathon. Chester is my home town marathon; it is the best organised event in the UK and they gave me my first experience in the world of pacing and everything that pacing brings to life.
Advice you would give to others/your earlier running self/ what you wish you’d known:
I wish I had known just how much being part of a global running community gives you so much more than you give it. Embrace different events; embrace different countries; always be supportive. So my advice don’t be scared be adventurous. Test your mind; test your body and the payback will far outweigh any pain running long distances may bring.
Thank you Gary for being uniquely you. We hope to have many more running experiences with you in the future.