Earlier this year, I was hired to photograph the 50th Rotorua Marathon and the brief was to capture the challenging nature of the course, the mass participation of the race, and people having fun during the race. Due to a couple of factors, I did not end up getting confirmation about the job until the day before the race, which did not really leave me much time to scout the course or to plan my day.
I hung out near the start of the race looking for some good mass participation and iconic Rotorua shots until most of the field was off and running, since I knew that it would be a struggle to get out of town until the runners has all started.
My original plan was to zip around in front of the racers stopping along the far side of the lake to get the scenic shots of both Lake Rotorua and the runners, but very quickly found out that that plan had to be thrown out the window. The traffic around the lake was really backed up with all the supporters trying to keep up with their runners and since I was not actually given a media or special car pass, I could not get past the closed roads. So I had to quickly think on my feet and come up with another plan of attack. I decided that since I could not get in front of the runners, I would turn around and get them coming towards me, and so I fought my way back to the far end of the lake and instead of trying to talk my way onto the closed course, I grabbed my camera bag and started walking down the road knowing that the top runners where not far from passing me. Fortunately I was not really worried about getting the very top runners and also didn’t have to worry about getting the finishing shots. So I walked about 4km around to the far side of the lake shooting the runners coming at me and stopping along the way when I saw a good set up like this one:
This is where I got most of my best shots, including the image at the top of this post which when Destination Rotorua saw my images said that they had never actually seen a shot like mine, showing both the lake and runners so close together. I must admit, that I got a few funny looks from some of the competitors when I started running back with a friend of mine who was participating in the race with all of my camera gear on my back and in my jeans chatting away to them.
So always remember to have an alternative plan when shooting an event, because you never know what roadblocks you might run into on event day. Also the better you know the course, the easier it is to go to plan b, or c….
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