Sasha Pachev: A Humble, Prolific Distance Running Legend

You might already know Sasha Pachev, even if you don’t.

Ever hear of the Mormon running family who runs races in Crocs? Remember the teenage kid who crushed a half marathon running in Crocs?

Yeah, that’s the Pachev family, led by Sasha Pachev:

Sasha Pachev, left, gets ready to run the 2017 500-Festival Mini-Marathon with his son Benjamin, right. Benjamin’s the famous teen who crushed this race in Crocs.

One of the first running writers I read a lot after getting into running was Pachev. He hasn’t written any books to my knowledge, but he does keep a website and a forum dedicated to hardcore runners in his neck of the woods in Southern Utah. In fact, the site’s running calculators are largely specific to projecting your times for key Utah races.

Sasha himself is an accomplished marathoner, having broken 2:25 in the marathon, outright winning a few marathons. He has well-beyond BQ’d. He could, outside of the Olympics, probably run whatever marathon he wants.

The man knows his stuff. Though Sasha’s advice isn’t too complex, the basic underlying premise is sound: As your running volume safely increases, your overall speed and ability to maintain that speed at longer distances should improve, or at least be better than if you had run fewer miles. As I’ve learned more about projecting results from previous results, I’ve found the predictions of his somewhat esoteric calculators to still be quite accurate.

One impressive note is Sasha’s shoe tracking data… not his tracking in itself, which is quite ordinary, but the stats:

Sasha has a small handful currently rotating pairs. All, including his trademark Crocs, have logged several hundred miles beyond what one would consider a shoe’s normal lifespan. One pair has over 1500 miles! The average runner would have exhausted 3-6 pairs at that volume that one pair has taken. Apparently there are no problematic holes or other complications with the shoes, if Sasha’s still running in them to this day.

This indicates Sasha may be doing something that most other runners don’t. Even the most experienced and form-perfect runners seem to wear out a pair of shoes after a few hundred miles at most. I’m sure the Crocs themselves are durable (even if technically they’re not running shoes). Perhaps (despite an admitted hitch in his running form) his running form is sound to where he does not wear shoes out the same way others do.

However, that’s admittedly pure conjecture. I have no idea. But the life he gets out of shoes is as prolific as his running volume and accomplishments.

It’s also quite Mormon, and I mean that with all due respect, as the LDS culture is known for (among other things) getting a lot of life and mileage out of basic equipment and supplies.

I’m not big on “XYZ person is an inspiration”, but Sasha Pachev is a shining example of how anyone can train themselves into being a great marathoner, no matter what footwear they’re wearing.

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On marathon cheaters, the Boston Marathon, and the importance of Derek Murphy’s Marathon Investigation

Every year, following applications, the famous Boston Marathon (which requires non-charity-runners to run a tough qualifying time to automatically qualify for their race) amends their quaifying time after the fact as a cutoff. They simply cannot accept every submission that Boston-Qualified (BQ’d).

This year the Boston Marathon’s amended cutoff for the 2019 race was close to 5 minutes faster than their posted 2018 standard at 4:52, a full 91 seconds higher than last year’s cutoff.

5 minutes may not seem like much to an observer: “Just run a bit faster next time”.

• There’s nothing you can do about your application this year. You can only try to qualify for next year’s race, whose benchmark has yet to be set (and will likely be even more difficult)
• When you run a 26.2 mile race as fast as you can, finding a way to run that whole race just a minute faster, let alone 5+ minutes faster, is for many impossibly difficult.
• Preparing for and running a 26.2 mile race is extremely tough. It’s not like a 5K where you bounce back in a couple days and could run one again right away. Most runners require 2-4 weeks or more to recover from the physical damage of running a marathon, which the human body was not designed to do. (In fact, in the historical origin story of the race the guy who ran the distance to warn generals of an impending battle… dropped dead at the end)
• Anyone who has run anything close to a marathon, let alone the actual race, would understand how insane the idea of lopping 5 minutes off a well-executed PR can be.

Okay, that sucks, you say. A lot of people want to run Boston, and the Boston Marathon has got to cap who gets in. That’s tough, but fair.

There’s one big problem: Many of the people who got in this year… cheated to get in. And every year, countless runners who BQ in another marathon did not do so legitimately. That wouldn’t be a big deal… if by illegitmately getting in they did not deprive another runner who legitimately BQ’d.

How do people cheat?