Triathlon Photo Op Strategy

Let’s be candid, here. You want the “big event” to be as memorable as possible. And one way to really accomplish this is to get great race day photos. While you don’t need to overanalyze this, you do need to be cognizant of where the prime opportunities lie so you can fully exploit them. So here’s the skinny:

– When you get your body markings, ask the volunteer to write big and double up on the ink. Tell them you want to make sure your sunscreen doesn’t dissolve it. This will increase your overall visibility to the photographers.

– In smaller events, the photographers tend to linger on the edges of the pack for the swim starts – especially for beach and pier starts. If you see one of them taking some pics, tell him or her to take “one last shot of you for your will.” Everybody else is too nervous to chat, so you’ll get your memorable “right before the race” shot (or two).

– The first major photo op is the swim finish. The photographers are typically getting shots of the swimmers exiting the water and running towards the bike transition area. The key here is to make sure you remove your cap and goggles right before you stand up and start running out of the water. The photographers won’t waste a shot on anyone still kneeling in the water, so use this brief moment to bunch up your cap and goggles in one hand. Then stand up and break into a “champion’s trot” all the way to the bike transition while fully suited. Even if there are several other people in the shot, you’ll stand out like a pro because all the others will still be fiddling with their cap, goggles, and wetsuit lanyards. And don’t worry if your race numbers are covered by a full body wetsuit. You’ll still be able to pick your photo out from the “unidentified” ones, and you won’t look like a disheveled mess with your wetsuit hanging half off of you.

– The “bike out” is another big area for photos. Take a few moments to catch your breath and regain your focus before launching out of the transition area on your “steed.” This is good to do as a general rule, anyway, but it has the added benefit of making you look controlled and energized coming out of the bike transition area. And there are few things worse than race photos of you sporting a “death gasp” look.

– Photographers are stationed at various points along the bike route, so this can be a crapshoot. However, most of them are located at slower speed areas such as big turns, hill tops, or the 100 yards approaching the “bike in” area. Keep this in mind, and make sure you have your best “destroy all in my path” look at those points along the course.

– Another big photo op area is the “run out” section. Again, make sure you take a few moments during your bike-to-run transition to compose yourself and get as relaxed and controlled as possible before embarking on the run. This will put you into a state of confidence which will show up in your race shots.

The Finish Line – The Ultimate Shot! I mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s definitely worth repeating. Unless you’re going all out for a personal record, take it down a notch during the last 1/3 mile of the run and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Use this time to reflect upon the sheer awesomeness of what you are about to experience, and gauge your pace in relation to any other runners and adjust it so it’s just you crossing the finish line. If you’re running with someone else, tell them to go on ahead or tell them you want to space things out so you can both get an awesome finish line shot. They’ll understand.

I cannot put into words the sheer sense of total glory that you will feel when you cross the finish line. You worked so hard for this, and you deserve to be memorialized as a champion. So feel free to be selfish! This is your time to shine, and you want all the attention on you alone.

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  1. srhernan
    September 3, 2008

    Amen! There are few things worse than dedicating 6 months to training for a super memorable event only to have some dork (or three) block you out of the finish line shot. I guess that’s why I no longer do the big attendance tris anymore…

  2. Kimo
    August 29, 2008

    By far, one of the best triathlon posts I’ve read this week. Great tips for getting that super-awesome photo for the narcisist in all of us :0).

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