USATF Cross Country Chamipionships 2013

The past weekend ranks in the top three this academic year (the other two being the weekends of the Forest Park XC Festival and the TubaChristmas and WUPops concerts.)  Funny how things like that work out.

On Friday, Joe Newton and Charlie Kern of The Long Green Line came to speak and answer questions at the pre-race dinner.  My high school cross country coach idolized the York team, and though I’m not quite as enthusiastic, I admire them both greatly–moreso now that I’ve heard them in person.  They’re incredible coaches with incredible legacies, yes, but what struck me the most was their humility.  It’s not that I was assuming they would be arrogant, just that  their humility was of an uncommon level.

As an aside, Friday was grant day at the lab: basically, Christmas for PhDs, complete with jumping up and down, squeals of joy, and dancing of the happy dance.  It was delightful.

Saturday was raceday.  I ran about as I expected for a non-competitive phase, but it was the first time I’d felt good while racing since last summer.  (I’m hoping to race competitively again this summer, so that’s a good sign.  But we’ll see.)  I saw a few people I recognized from back home and lots of big names.  Since I volunteered at the pasta dinner, I had volunteer credentials that got me access to the finish corral where I got to photograph Shalane Flanagan, Kim Conley, Deena Kastor, Sarah Hall, etc. as they finished.  Afterwards, the quest for autographs began.

Part of what I was trying to do was take more than “running” pictures.  While I definitely wanted to take running pictures (I mean, come on, do you have pictures of Deena Kastor on your camera?), I also wanted to try to capture the atmosphere of cross country that I miss so much.  Since this was mostly an individual event minimizing the team aspect, telling that part of the story was a little bit harder, but I went into the day with the mindset that I would get pictures that weren’t just about who ran faster than whom or what times people clocked, but about the emotion, the pain, the passion behind it all.  I wanted to capture the story.  To encapsulate in a few thousand square pixels just how much people care.  Did I succeed?  In a limited sense.  I pushed myself to take non-running pictures, to get in people’s faces (via a zoom lens…most of the time), to seek out different shots.  Sometimes it worked.  Sometimes not.  It’s all a learning process, I suppose.

But you be the judge.  Here are a few photos from Friday and Saturday–a more complete upload may be found here.

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