I've been relatively silent here, and for that I apologize, but I've been more active on Facebook and G+ and if you were following me there you may have seen me announcing my Ironman shoot where I was going to be shooting Endurance House team members all day.  I ran a 10 day countdown with a different poster each day from the 2013 race where I shot Endurance House as well.  Well, that day has come and gone along with the mad rush to edit and upload all of the photos which wound up being some of the hardest work I've done.  With the starting gun going off at 7am on Sunday, the entire project took about 60 hours minus prep time across 3.5 days or so, ending early Wednesday morning.  

An Angel pulling his boat to the swim finish

An Angel pulling his boat to the swim finish

All in all I managed to capture 55 participants, mostly at 2 different locations.  I had originally planned to do more, but navigating the course on race day proved to be way more difficult this year.  The week before I went out and scouted the bike and run, marking in my maps app places to shoot.  After the swim portion began to finish, I headed out to capture the first bike shots right as they're leaving the transition.  This is where it started to go wrong.  First I should have headed out as soon as the first person was approaching, but I waited to see if I could capture more of the swimmers arriving.  That was pretty futile as the crowds were crazy packed in and moving about was very slow.  That wound up having me miss quite a few early birds as they left on the bike.  No problem, I thought, I was going to head out farther and do more bike shots so I'd get them then.  The rest I can get here, though.  That ended up not happening either.  I'll admit my mistake here was that I didn't realize how many different uniforms Endurance House had.  I was looking for one particular outfit, or at least the familiar logo, and at that I only saw that uniform or logo a total of 3 or 4 times.  At that point, I realized I must have missed something.  Either I got here too late or there are different uniforms that I don't know about.

A tough way to bike one of the hilliest Ironman bike portions in the country.

A tough way to bike one of the hilliest Ironman bike portions in the country.

So I get back to my car and head out for the bike.  I get to my first spot and realize I've only managed to just catch up to the people I left behind at the bike transition.  That's how long it took to travel there and a testament to how much more ground a person on a bike can travel in a short amount of time.  Not good.  So I look for one of my spots much further out where maybe some of the first people are just getting to and decide on that.  Maybe when I get there I'll be in the middle of the pack for the fist loop and catch the people up front shortly after that on their second loop.  Well, police blockades and obscene amounts of "support teams" pretty much had every remote area I wanted to use put out of commission.  So after a bit of driving I figure I need to give up on my plans and just start shooting or I'm really going to miss everyone.  I stop at a spot, that while not gorgeous, will give me ample opportunity to find the people I'm looking for, and then get my panning shots as they go by.  Sure enough, I see now that there were many different uniforms I was missing. Some completely without the logo, including a couple designs that I never would have known about had it not been for a past contestant who spoke to me and knew that there were 2 new women's designs that were very nondescript. He stood there with me for a while and pointed some out.  Well, now I know what to look for, so thanks to him I was able to grab more shots than I would have otherwise.

One of the early problematic uniforms I kept missing.

One of the early problematic uniforms I kept missing.

Then I made the decision that I just needed to stay here or risk missing everyone again.  The one man crew can't cover that much ground and expect to get anymore than the same handful of people at each stage.  I also figured that I was going to have to miss any run shots as well and instead after the bike just head to the finish line and wait. So I stood put and over the next hour I began shooting and figuring out at a distance whether or not it was an Endurance House member.   Some I still kept missing because they'd take me by surprise within a group of people, but eventually after a couple hours I had seen them all and knew what they looked like.

A support team

A support team

By about 3pm, I was getting towards the back of the bike pack's second loop of the course so I thought I'd try for one more bike spot that I was positive nobody would be at and would at least get me a nicer background for a few people.  Well, I couldn't have been even more wrong.  This place was jam packed.  So much so that spectators were effectively shutting down the highway and making travel for both contestants and legitimate traffic problematic.  It didn't matter that police told them to get off the road, they had their "rights".  I tried anyways and got a few good shots, but many more were ruined by people walking in front of me as my shutter clicked away.  So as it got closer to 5pm, I shut it down and headed back to the Capitol and the finish line.

An Angel group finishing

An Angel group finishing

From there it was a matter of pushing my way to the spot I wanted and then camped there until midnight.  I managed to catch most of the people I had on the bike and then some, but I apparently still missed some.  Either they finished before I got there around 5ish, or they didn't finish in time or at all.  Even worse is that while I saw some approach, I couldn't shoot their finish due to someone near them completely blocking them from my angle.  And while it's such an emotional ride to see some of them finish in complete pain and agony, or having overcome some obstacle in their life, or even one of the Angels that pulls a disabled person behind them the entire race (I cannot fathom doing that... major props to those guys), the people who finish near the end of the day are such a rush of excitement.  Everyone cheers them on, especially this last guy who made it with 36 seconds to spare.

The final finisher

The final finisher

Then it was pack up, drive home, sleep for a good long while, and then begin the massive process of tagging, sorting, editing, exporting and then uploading.  Each step of the process taking just as long as the previous, which was something I hadn't really considered especially on the uploading and store creation part.  That process wound up having me complete it about a day later than I had originally planned.  In the end it didn't seem to matter as I received some initial replies that made it all worth the effort.

If you want to check out all of the images, it's at the same page I advertised prior to the race at http://rpophoto.com/ironman2015

Speaking of which, this is a Squarespace site, and when I was trying to figure out how I would put this project within the rest of my site without it being front and center, I became absolutely amazed at some of the features I didn't know existed here.  The tease running up to this was what was called a Cover Page which you can still check out at here.  I spent far too long looking for solutions like this only to realize it was built in, including being able to quite fancifully capture email addresses for those wanting notifications of when I was done.  That page was turned into my update page, letting people know that I was still working and it wouldn't be much longer.  Then when it was done, my final page assumed the same url and the previous pages became hidden.  It really couldn't have been any easier.  It would be nice if they made some strides, perhaps in the next version, in being able to more easily create a photography store instead of me taking 18 hours to manually set this all up, but in the end I can't recommend Squarespace enough.

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