Running Through My Mind: Races From Behind the Lens

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If I’m setting my alarm for 6 a.m. or earlier on a Saturday morning, it’s way more worth it if I am at least getting in a decent run. At least that’s what I used to think when I would attend a race.

Since I started this job in May, I’ve covered five different races, four of which I ran in. The other one, the Soldier Field 10 Miler, I merely brought my camera and took pictures of the runners; I had a blast, as I have been getting really into photography recently, but the entire time I was regretting not registering myself, and found myself oddly envious of those running in the late May humidity.

The races in which I ran included the Got2Run For Education in Arlington Heights; the Color Run in Grant Park; the Chicago Bears 5K at Soldier Field; and the 4 on the 4th in Elmhurst. The first three, I ran with my friend and took some pictures on my phone after I finished, which sufficed for the type of coverage I was going for. The Fourth of July race, though, I was able to run and grab my camera once I finished and take some pictures of the other finishers as well as during the kids’ fun run.

Aside from the obvious boost in photo quality from my iPhone, I realized at the holiday race that getting the opportunity to be both a participant and observer of an event is a really cool experience. When writing my recap, I was able to touch on my perception of the course itself, as well as the race environment from an outside lens. Typically as a participant, you finish the race, grab some water and snacks, and hangout with your group until the awards ceremony. As a reporter though, I got to survey everyone around me, taking in and capturing the different emotions that race morning. And despite many of my shots coming out slightly blurry, I also learned how to adjust my settings for the future, and even got to practice panning (sharp subject with blurry background) as runners briskly passed me.


Not only did I have a really good run for myself, but I got to share the joy with other runners who also did well; watching people hug and high five their fellow racers or families made me smile incessantly, and snapping pictures of people decked out in red, white and blue let me interact with them without feeling creepy, once they saw my Chicago Athlete tank top.

The kids run was really fun to cover too – the five different waves were set off within 30 seconds of each other, so there were constantly kids running towards me. Watching them approach their parents with a “look at me” expression was downright adorable, and their little legs sprinting to the finish line forced me to wonder where their running careers will take them. Had I decided to just relax after my run, I never would have appreciated the 1K race in this way.

While this may all sound kind of cheesy, Elmhurst’s annual event on Monday just reiterated to me that the racing industry is one of the most welcoming, motivating places to be, and, once again, I feel insanely lucky.

I will be attending the Chicago Triathlon in August, which will be my first time in a triathlon atmosphere. I know the fast-paced energy will be exhilarating, and I can’t wait to both test my [hopefully] improving photography skills and use my lens to appreciate the camaraderie and commitment the sport depicts.