As the seasons change, so does my direction. Shorter days, shorter workloads. This week was asked along to shoot the BUPA Birmingham Half Marathon. Im sure we all know what a huge achievement this is and it was really good to be asked along. What do I get a buzz from the most? Its not the runners or their reactions to the camera on the event, but I love the build up. Arriving there via tram, I can take the car anytime but I wanted to feel the buzz as I walked into the City.
You may not consider this, but as Media, you are expected there hours before the event even kicks off. I arrived just as the rain was beginning to stop, turned the corner to see the new Birmingham Library in all its glory, shining in a fresh coat of water. Roadsweepers were cleaning the finish line of the debris from the raucous Saturday night to be had on Broad Street, in fact some revellers were still trying to make their way home. Workmen were yawning, packing up the lorries having spent the night fencing off the route.
Waving the custom pass I was allowed onto the course and through the fencing which hours later would keep the cheering crowds at bay. I usually stop and take a moment to myself and look around and think what it will be like come Midday. I feel really privileged to be doing what I do and never take for granted these kind of moments. As I approached the Finish line the intensity increased. TV crews were walking the last 100M, HD TV Cameras swinging up, down and in all directions. Almost everyone I met seemed to have a headset on speaking into a microphone. But the surreal thing is, theres are cool, calm hush about the place. Its almost quiet really. Professionals going through their routines to deliver a slick polished content to TV, Radio and other Media hours later. Its at moments like these you realise how many people have been contracted in to publicise the event. Not a runner in sight, but its as busy Saturday afternoon.
Thankfully, I wasnt to be shooting in this location, just meeting up for the brief before heading off to Canon Hill Park where I was to be part of a team of photographers. I chose a part of the track where the runners would funnel in and kind of separate people, my brief was to get as many ‘numbers’ as possible. Not the most exciting gig in town rest assured, but a rewarding one. I would have loved to have shot low down getting runners feet and their reflections in puddles as they passed by, but what would I know? Im afraid no artistic licence was allowed, just straight boring shots.
Having hung around in the park for two hours waiting for the first runner to come through, then the action began. Then another lull while we waited for the rest of the field to start to come through. Thirty minutes later it was like someone had turned a tap on and whoosh, 20,000 runners. There was no shortage of ‘trade’ for three hours, then it became a trickle and all too soon it was over. As I packed up the gear and headed back to the car camera in hand to catch the stragglers, there was a rush of around 30 people, backed up by the sweeper and casualty bus. The last runner was a guy in his 60’s slowly walking. Someone has to be last and if I did it it would have probably been me.