Saying they wanted to find a new way to encourage participants in this year’s Luxembourg marathon, organizers have announced the deployment of hundreds of clowns who will immediately begin to chase anyone who slows down.

“Keeping up momentum for a long-distance race can be difficult, even for experienced runners who have spent months training,” said event spokesperson Vera Chafthyz. “To ensure that everyone does his or her best, we wanted to try something new this year.”

Chafthyz says that runners are usually cheered on by thousands of spectators, hundreds of volunteers, and dozens of people in yellow t-shirts beating large drums, but she and her colleagues felt there was a better way.

“While these elements do seem to have a positive impact on runners’ morale, they don’t really

take advantage of the primal fear that turned even our laziest ancestors into world-class sprinters,” she said.

The clowns will be stationed all along the race course, from the start to the finish line, so that no runner will be able to avoid them. While many of the clowns have been recruited locally, some have been brought in from as far away as Budapest and Helsinki.

The majority will be traditional clowns with white face paint, red wigs, and comic smiles, but others will sport more fearsome looks such as opaque large black eyes and enormous fangs.

“Little kids trying to give high-fives to every sweaty runner is cute, but if you want to really motivate competitors, you need something truly terrifying, something that gives every runner a strong dose of adrenaline,” Chafthyz said.

According to figures, less than a quarter of the population admits to having a fear of clowns, but marathon organizers believe they can boost that figure to 100 percent if the clowns hold out their hands like claws, laugh maniacally, and say things like, “Come here – don’t you want a balloon?”

“We expect every participant to finish in record time this year,” Chafthyz said. “With our new clown program, we believe that even champion marathoners will shave five minutes off their times.”

“Soon, every race in the world will be copying us,” she added. “Scary clowns will become as much a part of marathons as little orange slices and nipple bandages.”