Drafting & Pack Running for Long Distance

Athletes gunning for a PB over a half marathon or marathon are best placed to draft and work with a group.

Options on race day –

Stay with same group

Usually able to maintain same pace throughout & speed up at the finish. Group may be team mates or athletes of similar ability. Relies on each group member rotating through to take the lead.

Changing groups

You may start with one group & find that you are too fast/slow. Best to make a decisive move to rejoin another group rather than sit in ‘no-man’s-land’. This will require a considerable change in speed to speed up/slow down to join the next group.

Choosing a fast group & hanging on

This usually results in athletes getting dropped periodically throughout the race. This can affect your pace later in the race due to extra fatigue & also mentally.


Aerodynamically the best place to sit is directly behind another athlete, within about 1m. Sitting to the side (depending on the wind direction) allows some protection from air resistance but you really need to be within 30cm.

Further Reading & References:

Runners World – Racing With a Group Beats Going Solo

Runners World – Drafting in Running

Runners World – Marathon Pacing & Pack Running

GPC Squad – when-do-i-update-my-running-shoes