Long Beach Triathlon 2008 and What I’ve Learned
September 22, 2008 by Jamie
This past weekend was the Long Beach Triathlon. The event took place where most events take place in Long Beach, off of Shoreline Drive near the convention center, aquarium and the Queen Mary. This particular event is our fifth triathlon that we have covered and their are a few things that I have learned since we started.
In covering a triathlon you must first be prepared to wake up early. We arrived at 5am to this triathlon, before most of the athletes even arrived. The picture to the left was taken of the Queen Mary somewhere around the time of 5:30am. Why wake up so early? Well if you want to cover an event, particularly if the event has a course of some kind, it is a good idea to stake it out first. Whether this be the day before the event or in the hours before, this is a good way to find where the best place for good shots are. Bryan and I walked down to where the run course would be and found a great spot for him to take shots of the runners with the Queen Mary in the background.
The second thing I learned; be prepared to risk your life. Now obviously if you have to choose between getting the shot or possible death, please choose life. However, don’t let a little danger get in the way of a good photograph. For example, I staked out a position on a road just ahead of the transition. It was a 2 lane road that was coned off for the event, it was also on a steep incline. People transitioning would ride up the hill to the bike course on Shoreline Drive and when they finished their second loop they would come to a sharp turn which led right back down the same incline. I positioned myself between the cones near the the top of the incline. This was not a problem when bikes were coming out of the transition, as they would have to had taken a wide line to come anywhere near me, however, the bikes coming back from their second loop into the transition for the run almost always took the line of the cones. I want to make something perfectly clear, I was NEVER in the path of an oncoming cyclist, I don’t recommend that. That is not only dangerous for you but very dangerous for the athlete, and the last thing you want to do is put the athlete’s life at risk. There was a chance though that if one of the cyclist didn’t take the turn right and crashed I would have been crashed into. I always tried to have an area that I could move into if that happened. Fortunately that didn’t happen and I came away with some great shots even if the other spectators thought I was crazy.
Usually events such as triathlons are covered by photographers hired specifically by the event coordinators. These photographers are usually given access to the best spots along the course. Don’t think that because you are not the official event photographer that you can’t take the same shots in the same places. At this particular triathlon I got to take almost the same shots as the “official” photographers because I strategically placed myself in these areas. As long as you are not blocking these photographers shots than you can usually get away with being in the same spots. At the finish line there were two “official” photographers sitting at either side of the gates. I simply placed myself behind them, I stood in the middle so they didn’t block my view of the incoming runners and I snapped away. As long as I moved out of the way when the runners came closer to me no one had a problem with me standing there. Don’t assume that everything is off limits, unless the race director tells you otherwise, don’t be afraid to get the shots you want.