Wednesday, June 13, 2012

5 Questions with Matt Scherer

Matt Scherer paces the 1500 field at Payton Jordan
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
Today we have 5 Questions with the self-proclaimed "best 800 meter pacer/rabbit in the world." With what he's done on the track lately, how can we argue? As Canadian Olympian Marathoner Reid Coolsaet recently tweeted "the guy is a billboard for 400-500 meters in every important 800."

Matt Scherer is that guy. The one you keep seeing leading high profile races for a lap or two. The guy barking back at the guy behind him to speed up or stay calm. He's fast, even keeled and wide bodied; perfect for blocking wind. He was asked to go through an 800 recently in 50.50. His FAT split? 50.50. Solid as a rock. He's also sponsorless. He'll be running in Diamond League London, and probably more. He'll be pacing the 800 at the  Victoria International tonight. Check it out live on Flotrack. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter @mscherer

5 Questions with Matt Scherer

1. Writing About Running: You were a part of the fastest 800 meters on US soil Saturday. What does it feel like to be involved in something so historic?

Matt Scherer: To be honest, I'm not even sure I appreciate the magnitude of it yet. I've been busy as of late with a lot of races and travel, so I've had to stay very focused on just doing what I'm supposed to on the track. This was the first time I'd paced for Rudisha, and at the very least, I didn't want to screw anything up for him, that was the main objective. Past that, hitting the 400 meter split at a consistent pace was the only thing on my mind.

I was beyond excited to see the clock stop on 1:41 when he crossed the line. In the past, Rudisha has always had his friend/training partner Sammy Tangui pacing him, so I hope that he liked me enough to request me for more races later in the season and I can help him do something even more special.

2. Writing About Running: On Sunday, you were pacing the 800 on the other side of North America (Harry Jerome in Canada), which has become the norm for you of late. How difficult is it to bounce back and perform on target, when so many are expecting you to hit a time?

Matt Scherer: After having a decent amount of success pacing last year, I prepared myself this year, mentally and physically, for an increased work load. I've always been good at going with the flow and not getting stressed out over little things. That has come in particularly handy with all the things that never go right when traveling. The back-to-back New York and Vancouver races haven't even been my toughest turnaround this year. A couple weeks before that, I paced in Shanghai on Saturday, flew to Phoenix via Chicago and paced again on Monday. That was about a 26 hour travel day. But just like most athletes do, when it's show time, you put on a game face and go do your job and perform. You can't let travel ever be an excuse.

Pacing Kaki at Prefontaine in 2011
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
3. Writing About Running: The 600 you ran against Nick Symmonds at Hayward in 2008 was a great showcase of quite possibly the perfect distance for you. Did this race give you an idea that you might be pretty good at pacing longer races?

Matt Scherer: At the time of that 600 with Nick, pacing wasn't on my radar as a career. But what that race has done for me since I became a full-time pacer is give me a solid credential on my resume. (#6 All-Time) Now when meet directors see PB's like 45.1, 1:14.4, and 1:46.1 it doesn't hurt in getting jobs.

4. Writing About Running: Do you prefer Rabbit or Pacemaker? Does it matter?

Matt Scherer: It doesn't matter to me. It seems like in the US it's usually rabbit and most everywhere else it's pacer or pace maker. You usually can get better jokes with rabbit, which I always appreciate. Sometimes my friends introduce me as a professional quitter.

5. Writing About Running: You've been very busy in pre-Olympic action. What do you have on the schedule coming up?

Matt Scherer: It's still early, but I have the London Diamond League 800 meters on my schedule. I think fields will solidify a bit more once country's national meets and the European Championships are over. I would love to continue pacing at Diamond League and World Challenge meets as much as I can. And am hoping that Rudisha liked me enough to maybe use me for a world record attempt later in the year. For a pacer there isn't anything bigger than being part of a world record.

Watch Scherer pace David Rudisha to the fastest 800 on US soil (1:41.) below:

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  1. This is Brett Lynn. How much credit do you give to the fact that when you were 9 and I was 12, we let you run with us at the front of the pack in Little League practices? I'll be honest, I kind of feel responsible for your success in track.

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