Tuesday 30 October 2012

Beachy Head 2012

The Beachy Head Marathon 2012 official gallery is now live and online here: http://bit.ly/Beachy-Head-Marathon-2012-Official-Photos

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 http://goo.gl/maps/UcFL1 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: http://bit.ly/Beachy-Head-Marathon-2012-Official-Photos

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

Until next time

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Brutal, Abingdon Marathon and Croydon 10k 2012 now live

The latest Brutal 10, Abingdon Marathon and The Croydon 10k are now live and online.



The Abingdon Marathon


A weekend of contrasting fortunes and experiences - everything from going up to your elbows in mud and muck to the flatest and fastest half marathon course we know with people targetting fast PB times and the annual Croydon 10k

I personally had the covering of the Brutal and Abingdon marathons to cover off on my watch through the weekend.

The Brutal 10 is still one of the best organised off road challenges there are. Whilst you can take the mass participation races all you want, there will always be an "optimum" size to this type of event. You want there to be enough people to make it feel safe, comradeship and competition, but you don't want to feel like a herd of wilderbeast being driven over a cliff. The Brutal events are unique in that all the course is 100% organic, no fake man made obstacles here and no anonymous overcrowding.

This months Brutal was a wet affair - based on the heavy overnight rain, the large ponds were about a foot deep instead of last years when they were just dry gravel beds. Photographing these things gets interesting when the spot you need to get to at 7k point on the course from the 2k point is only via boggy marshes and the ditch strewn race route itself, over one of the hills, and you have to stay at the 2k point until everyone has gone past before you can leave, and it's 2k away...

Anyone fancy a 2k XC run with 12kg pack of camera kit, over rough terrain and bogs ? I'm honest enough to say I lost the race this time - beaten by about the first 20 on my way to the spot known as "gunge alley", and going up to my knees in wet bog on the way there, but I think the effort was worth it. Big respect to everyone who did the race and jumped in up to their elbows (and right under in some cases) - the smiles and laughs at the finish however showed just how much fun it had been for you all. Thank goodness for Tom's catering at the end - we all needed that !

Team Photo. You can pick anywhere, why not in the bog ?
Back to the office, cataloguing the images with the team, get cleaned and dry, charge batteries, sort out data cards, kiss goodnight to the kids and then drive off the 100miles to Abingdon, through torrential rain, praying it's going to stop before the morning, for an overnight cheap hotel experience and 5 hours of broken sleep.

Up for Abingdon and on site at 7:50am, through the fog and dark, catch up with RachelE who was off to do some marshalling, Mick and Phil who were going to go out to the Fetchpoint drink station, and the race organisers, directors, commentatiors and the chip timing team. All familiar faces which reassure you that everything is going to go smoothly. A Quick check that the rest of the photography team know where they are going and what they are doing and its all systems ready to go.
At the start - there was Ben getting ready to hit his target Marathon for the year, aiming for 2:38 (but he hadn't told anyone he probably stubbed and broke his toe that morning), and a few familiar faces from the southern counties we cover regularly. Then with the start - a few seconds delay to make sure the timing was sorted and everyone was off with the usual nervous anticipation.

Alternating with last year, the race went through the town square instead of the arch, a small issue with the wrong bollards not being unlocked to be removed meant it was all going to get a bit tight at the road crossing but it all managed to work out ok with a bit of red and white tape as well as some clear marshalling.

The initial lead runner James Bolton (#223) went out fast, by 14 miles his split time of 1:18 suggested a finish time of 2:20, he was already several minutes up on his rivals, but with 3 miles to go the wheels came off, and he was caught by the eventual winner Paul Fernandez (#746) before they entered stadium and he finished for the win in 2:32:02. The first Abingdon Ambler to win his home race ? It was watching James run through treacle down the back straight of the track straining through every stride as Mark Greenwood closed in to overtake him and take second place from him in 2:33:53, to put James in 3rd place of 2:34:06.  To give you some idea of how tough they were, 4th place was over 8m:30s behind them. Respect for all of them.
Mark Greenwood (2nd) Paul Fernandez (1) James Bolton (3)

I could type much more (but won't) but it was good to see my friend Jim make it home in 98th place and 3:01:17 (chip) a huge PB for him. Only a week after his 49th birthday too. Also apparently there was a world record for the 5-linked runners - photo below - very well done to them too !

So, I'll stop this endless typing, very well done to the race directors, marshals, webmasters, entries secretaries, chip timers and all other volunteers and time givers to the weekends events, and very well done to everyone who raced - perfect conditions - I hope you all had a good weekend of it too.

The winner took the direct and map route through the water
The view of the winner from the next hill on the course

Running up that hill
K9 power up the hill (its a 1in6)

Muddy Mo-Bot

Double thumbs up

really it's fun this brutal stuff

watch where your tounge goes on days like this

Nice bit of stream running

Getting clean air into the finish

Order for one bucket of Daz automatic please...

Ben getting ready to bring it on

the chaaaaarrrrrge

My Gursky assymilation for the Abingdon Marathon

Ruth leaving the stadium - she was still smiling at the end!

Save energy and have two spare arms stiched into your tshirt

Paul Fernandez crossing the town square - heading for 2:32:02

Liz Hartney heading for first female in 2:52:19

Ever had that moment where you think you've forgotten something but not ?

Matt Dunn - 10 in 10 veteran, out for an easy jaunt

Frank insisted on saying "Fromage" to me whenever he saw the camera !

Big thumbs up for his supporters as he ran on

Anyone else for a "Camp Bastion Half Marathon" running vest. Abo must have been tame by comparison.

Dr Jim on the sly fly

New world record for five attached runners ?

Sub 3:10 - job done !

The joy of running

Medal giver outers - did a fantasic job all day

top tip - If you stop immediately after finishing and lean on the scaffold - don't do it right infront of the remote camera !

In the wilds of the countryside

psyching up half way round

keep it on nice and tight

Ealing Eagles - they get everywhere these days !

Double double thumbs up !

Right off to bed, it's 2:40am, and kids have to be up at 7am. Got that wrong again didn't I.
Enjoy the galleries,




until next time - that will be after Beachy Head, in the forecase artic conditions. Oh hell.