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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Beachy Head 2012

The Beachy Head Marathon 2012 official gallery is now live and online here:

The offical results are here
There's a lot on searching tips and tricks below - please have a read.

The Start - the quickest way onto the south downs way = up

For those of you who don't know, the Beachy Head marathon is one of the largest off road marathons in the world. Running from Eastbourne, around the South Downs Way and then back along the coast and the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head itself it is an arduous hilly difficuly race where even on a sunny day the elements will take their toll on all the competitors. In truth - the only solution is to do it as fast as possible so you don't get caught out by the fast changing conditions.

Reports of people driving through heavy snow on the M25 to arrive for the start give you some idea of the conditions this year. A cold north wind had come off the Artic, down the north sea and was cutting across the south east corner of England at about 20mph, and even stronger on top of hills and by the coast.
Neil on of the 5 person photography team - needed a winter buff, thermal hat, second over-gloves, and two pairs of waterproofs to catch up with me, and I was still shivering cold doing star-jumps. He was - as you can see - toasty warm...

Taking photos of races in these conditions has it's challenges, mainly consisting of not getting hypothermia, frostbite or dying from exposure. Hydration and food over the time are also challenges because there is rarely a gap in runners and if there was - it's a "grab a bite" of an apple, bagel or bar - which is simply not possible when you have two pairs of gloves, thick sleeves and a buff across your face like a ninja. Eating becomes impractical to doing the job as you miss photographing people - which as we only earn money from sales commission - is not ideal over a 7hr shift.

Here's the maps of our spots around the course - the route on this is wrong in a few places but it's good enough points 3 and 4 were extras this year. With the wind from the north north-east it was cutting into our faces for quite a bit of the day. With a lot of the nice shots being on the top of hills so that you have a nice backdrop - the upshot is that we end up sat in some of the most exposed parts of the course for many hours at a time.

Searching for your photos

Two pin flappy number disaster averts a double-thumbs-up attempt
 The wind also played merry hell with race numbers - forgiving people who had them covered up for understandable reasons (they didn't want to die of exposure either I guess), and thank you to those who did flash us your numbers - the wind was so bad that even those people who had pinned theirs on "by the book" on each corner - had their last digit blown inside and out of view - see this below - which creates a whole new set of problems:

Perfect pinning ?- race number 1571 - the wind was so strong - the last digits were blown off a lot of race numbers
Tri belts, and folding them up ? Why bother !, even this chap gave up with his origami. I doub't he will ever find his photos. "Tri belts are the devils work" and have "unexpected consequences"
Search by your race number
With us posting up almost 56,000 photos - it's important for us to catalogue the numbers correctly so you can see them - so first option is to search on the gallery with your whole race number.
Obviously it helps if you use the right number - here's the results pdf if you've forgotten it or it blew away.

Search by first three digits
Back in the office we can only index on what we can see, and remember some of them weren't there on the day - so if your best pinned number was blown inside out - that means you should also search on the first three numbers of your race number - i.e. 123 if your number was 1233 as an example I've just tested myself (I've corrected it now but you will see what I mean).

Using the results we can usually match our photos to the individual based on time of the photo, gender and sometimes club vest - (it's often the only way we can index triathlon finishes) - although this does significantly slow down the cataloguing process, it results in a higher search success rate. Elsewhere on the course it does present some difficulty as the results order isn't the same, but it does help with searching for four digit race numbers when you can only see the first three and a club vest (1571 above is a classic example).

As the quantity of unreadable race numbers goes past the 2000 mark - which is the maximum number of results from our search engine if you were to search on "000" - our normal "no number" replacement - then you wouldn't see all of them in a single search if you were to do it the normal way so -

Browse the smart folders
So - to help with the missing number search this time - I have created a special "Smart folder" for each of the locations - which are the location specific search results for the "000" images - organised in time order - so you can just go through the thumbnails for those and hopefully find yourselves in there as well.
You can refer to the map if you want to work out which locations are which.

I know you like a challenge - well you must - you ran the race- then browsing through the Smart Folders is the way forwards for you.

Help us correct the cataloguing and improve search results
Under every large preview image is a "caption correction" email link - if you find an image that is incorrect - just click on that and type in the race number it should be - the email has a direct link code in it for us to use - so we can quickly go to exactly that image and correct the cataloguing. If it means putting your race number onto the image - then that also means you will be able to find them a lot quicker next time, and they will be included in any collections you order.

Race numbers - for future reference - top tip
If you are one to have layers on and off (as would I) then you can pin your race number to your leg - but here's the trick - make sure the number is vertically placed so it can all be seen from the front. That way we can see all the digits - they are not wrapped out of site around your thigh !

The race itself

Stuart Mills has a habit of winning this, and whilst I've seen him languishing in third and second at the 13k mark before, I've not seen him looking this relaxed about things in the past. Also I've not seen such a large lead made on him nor such a competitive look to the front end of a race for quite a few years.

Daniel Wyatt lead for much of the race - to end up in 4th

Stuart Mills attacking at the top of the hill after Jevington

Bob Harley wasn't letting Stuart get away from him

Yet it was Paul Barnes - #96 who came up Beachy Head first with a healthy lead, followed by Daniel Wyatt and Bob Harley close together and then Stuart Mills about a minute later battling into the almost near headwind.
All that changed on the way to the finish despite Paul being out of sight when Stuart came past as both he and Bob must have lit the turbo chargers to chase down Paul.
So it ended up as :
1 #806 HARLEY, ROB M 1 Vet 1 3:09:51.45 Gun: 3:09:52.10
47 seconds later,
2 #1228 MILLS, STUART M 2 Vet 2 BRIGHTON AND HOVE CITY AC 3:10:38.80 Gun: 3:10:39.30
only 0.2 seconds later,
3 #96 BARNES, PAUL M 3 Senior 1 3:10:11.40 Gun: 3:10:39.50
8 seconds later,
4 #1898 WATT, DANIEL M 4 Senior 2 TUNBRIDGE WELLS HARRIERS 3:10:46.10 Gun 3:10:47.50

Which I think must go down as a record for one of the tightest finishes to the race in a long time - certainly for second place !
Stuart, the Mayor and Rob take the finish photo call

Have a search on their race numbers to see how it unravelled around the course.

Meanwhile, everyone else got on with getting about the course and surviving the weather. If you finished after about 1pm you will remember the ice-rain that was blown through at a fast rate - I ended up sitting in a 1cm puddle of cold water after that. It didn't do much for the views and backgrounds either whilst it was descending. I hope you too have managed to get the feeling back into your faces.

As usual I'll sign off with a selection of photos, please have some sympathy for the team out covering the Loseley 10k and the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run - myself - I'll be the one at the seafront - in the storm force wind and rain (as currently forecast) from 10am to 4pm trying to keep a lens clean to get a shot or three. Turns out last weekend was good practice after all.

Enjoying the view ? Nope - just showing me she can't put a number on properly

Sophie - sans bike but out for a run all the same

Anti-photo light watch didn't quite blind me

It's not every race I get a kiss blown

Double thumbs up from Dorking MVAC

Get set for more double thumbs up ans smiles

"what WAS I thinking?"
Good to see Suzie and Tess

Mens Winner - Battling the gale force wind

Susie Casebourne did a 3h:32 to win the ladies race

Yes - that's about right

Jumping Jack flash

That start again !!

Happy fourtieth - no idea what your race number was though !

That tight race for second place

Correct finish feeling

good victory arm

two's company

The best finishing pose there is
enjoying the view along the cuckmere meanders

over the bridge at alfriston

go pro, for a 4hr blockbuster

All that space to run in. Sussex. Quite nice really.
The Beachy Head Marathon 2012 official gallery is now live and online here:

And remember to follow the search instructions to see if you can get all your photos together.

Until next time

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