Monday, November 17, 2008

Miles from a championship

"Runners pass a crowd of spectators during the final leg of the Boys Class 4A Maryland State Cross Country Championship race at Hereford High School in Parkton, Md., Saturday morning."

Nothing excites me like shooting somebody or something for the first time ever. Last weekend shooting cross country gave me that rush.

Although my day was packed, I was up for a nice weekend of championship sporting events. My day consisted of two games - the Maryland State Cross Country Championships in the morning and the Maryland State 4A Field Hockey Championship at night.

As mentioned, I had not a clue of what to expect for my first cross country event. I had not even watched a race, let alone shot one in my years of shooting and going to high school and colleges that had teams.

From what I recall from high school, cross country was a long, slow distance running race. Simple, right?

The only reason I know anything (read: nothing) about the sport is because I had a buddy who quit the soccer my junior year team to run cross country.

I never quite understood the sport. Being an athlete myself, I hate running. I generally feeling exhausted after a long match or practice. But my buddy loved it. He found joy in leaving us in the dust as we had to run laps before and after practices.

He was a machine. I never once saw him gasp for air or run (again) for the water jug. He started with a smile and ended with a grin. Think Forest Gump. He was a runner at heart and set all sorts of records.

Aside from my teammate, I never knew how long the races really were. My assignment said I needed to shoot one race at 11:00 a.m., so I planned on getting their early to scope out the scene and didn't expect to get out of there until 2 p.m. or so.

After arriving about an hour early, parking in a corn field and finding the races I began looking for the reporter.

To my surprise, he informed me that each race was a little over three-miles long and lasted maybe 20 minutes each. All along I had thought the races would last an hour. And although three-miles is a trek on your feet, I was thinking something like a 15-mile course.

Anyways, after bumping into new friend and Patuxent Publishing intern, Todd Spoth, I realized that although it was a pedestrian event (I mean it's just kids running), that it was a playground for my pupils.

While confusing with dozens of different high schools racing at the same time all while on a confusing, long course, I found myself being entertained running around myself trying to make images at various parts of the track, all while trying to shoot the runners I needed to capture.

I shot for a little over an hour and three different races - the two races before the one I needed to cover and the one I was expected to produce the most for.

It was a lot of fun and I feel like a learned a bunch, too. But the best part of the event was watching the athletes come across the finish line and have near-death experiences as they foamed from the mouth, vomited and passed out. I know sometimes I feel drained after a soccer game, but almost fainting and needing assistance doesn't seem like much fun.


Blogger Blake said...

Nice photos. That kids jersey that reads Sherwood. He is from my high school. I like the running shot #3 because it shows how fast they are running.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 8:57:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick Smith said...

Read this Post article on him:

Sunday, November 16, 2008 9:01:00 PM  

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