Elite Amateur Sport

Army Run pace bunnies come in all

By Anne Duggan

Cameron Emilio, 11, was asked to be an Army Run pace bunny after finishing the Ottawa Race Weekend 5k in under 20 minutes. Photo: Dan Plouffe.

The two 22:30 pace bunnies in Sunday’s 5 km Army Run only had one thing in common: their need to keep at the correct speed.

Despite very different running experiences, Alison Sandeman and Cameron Emilio worked hard to make sure the 22:30 pace was well represented.

Sandeman, 52, is a 15-year veteran race bunny and a teacher at Brookfield High School and was charged with setting the 22:30 “run” pace.

“It’s always fun to try to help other people to find their goals,” explains Sandeman, who was slightly slower than her assigned pace because the turns slowed her down.

First-time pace bunny Cameron Emilio is a Grade 6 student at St. John Public School in Toronto. Last May, the 11-year-old was asked by race organizer Mark Wigmore to run as a pacer after he finished the Ottawa Race Weekend 5 km in under 20 minutes and placed first in his age category.

“I was kind of nervous,” he says of his role to hit the 20:30 “continuous” target. “I didn’t think I could do it.”

Emilio’s father, Dave, added that his son knew he could run at a 22:30 pace but was concerned he would not be as accurate as he should be.

Emilio knew that people were counting on him. With the cheers from the crowds and some help from his dad at his side, he crossed the finish line in 22:28.

Emilio was pleased with this performance and plans to work as a pacer again. But, he admits, he enjoys being a racer better than being a pacer.

“I like getting personal bests,” he smiles.

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