Seventy-two kilometers of gorgeous off-road running in the Hajar Mountains on the edge of Musandam. Taking place for the 21st year running, this event has become iconic on the UAE’s running scene and is the only real off-road race.
My key focus from the photography angle was two Nike-sponsored running teams from the ‘MAKE viagra on sale business hub’ crew. I wanted to follow their journey, starting with their urban-based training runs in the lead up to the race day itself. I hoped to record their entire experience.
A brand like Nike obviously has very clear visual guidelines in terms of what can and can’t be shot … angles, compositions, people and the overall message conveyed. Over the years however, we’ve done enough work with them to grasp what works and what doesn’t. Still, shooting Wadi Bih did present certain challenges because you simply can’t control a race like this. Think scattered runners, lot’s of 4×4 support cars, steep mountain inclines and narrow single track trails. There’s no option to go back and reshoot either. It’s just a live fast feed event moving in one direction at the fastest pace possible.
So how does a photographer cope? You gotta get and stay switched on … move along at a slightly faster pace, pre-empt energy and provoke emotion. You just have to immerse yourself amongst the runners, bond with them and do your very best to make them look good.
From a techie point of view, shooting at the crack of dawn was a real joy. The sky proved an amazing backdrop with the team silhouetted against the strong blue morning light. Once inside the wadi however, I had a stark reminder that it’s really not an ideal early morning location shoot as the sun only really hits the gorge towards the end of the day. We just had to make the best of shooting in shade and flat light. And be relying on Photoshop to show off its skill set here.
I think back to when the benchmark was first set by a runner tackling the full 72k solo. Many an eyebrow was raised but now, just a few years later, the number of solo runners has dramatically increased with a staggering 70 individuals rising to the challenge this year. The course supports this, with lots of other team-based runners to cheer along the way so I suspect the numbers will only grow.
As for the victorious winner? My congrats to Jeremy for setting a new solo course record with an impressive 5 hours 36 mins time. It cost him a few toenails but he did it!