Over the summer I was lucky enough to be the Maverick Race official photographer. Initially, I thought this would be a relatively straight forward job………………………….I was very wrong!
Taking photographs of runners in some pretty amazing places sounds like a dream job, and it was. But one thing I forgot to think about was my fitness levels for the event. Now I consider myself a pretty fit guy; I eat well, I train periodically and I do lots of different sports from kitesurfing to mountain biking. But, running is a very different kind of fitness.
The job was to capture the feel of the day shooting the runners, the location and the countryside. So I headed to the first event in Somerset programming into the satnav a beautiful place called Fingle Bridge. After a two and a half hour drive, I arrived at 8am and got all of my kit ready after doing a recce. There was lots of opportunities for great images and it looked like it would be a great day’s shooting.
The runners started turning up and I started shooting. When people are comfortable in their environment or are focusing on something else, it makes it easy to get natural looking photos, nothing staged, nothing posed. So I was getting some great photos and all was well………….right up until they started running.
The plan was to ride my mountain bike around the track following the runners and keeping ahead of them whilst getting some great shots. What I didn’t take into account was the speed of the runners, and the assents and descents. I got some good shots as the starting horn went off, loaded my cameras up in my backpack and chased them down on my mountain bike. For the first 200m, I was making good ground, I had cut through half the pack and was overtaking swathes of people, but then I flew round the next corner and looked up at what can only be described as a mountain (well, a small hill at best) but with the adrenaline going, trying not to run anyone over, and peddling as fast as possible I was already out of breath and the runners were not slowing down. I changed down, and down again, and then clunk…..I was at the lowest gear………the runners then started overtaking me! After what felt like an eternity I finally reached the top and luckily, the track dropped back down.
After a few of these hills I was completely out of breath, knackered but pretty much up with the lead runners. I had one final downhill run to get past the lead guy, and then all I needed to do was to find a good spot to get some photographs. There was a break in the woods, so I peddled past this, chucked my bike in the hedge, whipped both my cameras out and started clicking away!
The whole day went on like this and I came away with some great photographs for Ben and Justin at Maverick Race. I also came away with a whole new respect for cross-country runners and a new outlook on getting fitter!
Shooting running events is very challenging and very rewarding at the same time. It’s a bit like a biathlon; ride and shoot! You’ve got to be fit enough to keep up with some world class runners, all be it on a mountain bike, and then calm your breath to get the shots.
This was my experience at the first event and since then, I have made sure I keep my fitness up to keep up and get better images. I have shot many more running events over the British summer and am looking forward to getting involved with many more.