50 Miles Through the Lens
My desire was to run the Old Pueblo 50 mile race. Registration day I was at my computer ready to punch my application in. I was at my computer, but not on it. Our office is known to get less than adequate internet connection. I just had to be persistant and have patience. I have both but they had little effect on a computer that did not work. No fear, last year the race took 3 days to fill. We were now on hour 3 and I would wander to the library at lunch and enter my first 50 miler. You can see where this story is going. Lunchtime and the only option I had was the waiting list. Nearing race day and I had moved up the list but was still not in. My training was not going well and I was challenged in training for a long race that I was not yet a participant. I considered my options. Thankfully, I would be near the race while on business.
My folks would provide free housing and a friend (Dan Baier) would help keep the Sitka honor.
Looking for new experiences, if I wasn't going to suffer through a 50 mile run, I thought, hey, I can capture the others suffering through the lens. I knew Duane Arter, the race director, and asked to be taken off the waiting list and put on as the race photographer.
The race started about sunrise and it was quite the scene. Headlights and jackets were common but would soon disappear as the sun ebbed over the horizon. After the runners took to the trail I drove to one of the aid stations. I had the Canon Rebel in hand and I would organize my thoughts and shots as the runners neared.
The runners were great. We had terrific conversations in the 8 seconds that they were within my realm, and then they were gone. They epitomized some of what is so grand about ultra running...not just excellent 8 second conversations, but they were very supportive of each other and the camaraderie was excellent. All while in the beauty of the Santa Rita mountains, not on pounding pavement. I love dirt. For most people this race was about forward motion and not repeated looks at their stopwatch.
I got my miles in as I sought better shots and unique angles. I was getting a feeling for the race and was snapping hundreds of pictures that were capturing their sweat and survival in the Old Pueblo 50.
Dan was on his way to completing a challenging and long first ultra marathon. He did this while training through an Alaskan winter and enduring 75-80 degree temperatures on race day.
Keep in mind our warmest day for the year was about 70.
Dan went home with the cherished buckle for all finishers and lasting memories. I made my way back to Alaska with a very positive new experience, a renewal of interest in the ultra scene, many thanks from the runners and Duane for spending time capturing their special moments on the course and I did abscond with one of the cool cloth race numbers that the OP 50 is known for and a OP t-shirt. That race number still graces my frig, to remind me not to binge and to focus on some goals that are long and require some of that patience and persistance and to enjoy the journey along the way.