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04 Feb, 2013

Strike a Running Pose

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Strike a Running Pose

Throughout my 18 years of running, I have loved it when the race photographers captured me in full flight or crossing the finish line, and I tend to buy all my race pictures, even the not-so-good ones where my shorts are pulled all skew, because I want to keep those race memories alive. However, I have noticed that I am often grimacing or looking half-dead, or worse, smiling like a lunatic who just escaped from the asylum and found a road race to escape into. And some of the poses I have pulled over the years defy explanation!

 

Looking through my many race pics, I can see a few standard poses:

?         The Winner: For some reason, in my early races I felt compelled to raise both arms in the air when I saw a camera, which made me look like I was winning the race. The fact that I was actually 975th out of 1427 runners made no difference! There is even one race pic where I am in the finishing straight, with no other runner in sight, so it looks like I’m about to break the tape. Totally ridiculous!

?         The One Finger Saluter: You raise one hand nonchalantly, extend the forefinger while balling the rest of your fingers loosely, and point in the general direction of the camera. I really have no idea why I do this all the time…

?         The Talker: I enjoy a good chat during a run, and sometimes I’m so busy chatting to the runner next to me that I don’t see the cameras. Cue a wonderful side profile of my face... and with my receding hairline, side profile shots are not so flattering!

 

Of course, there are other poses that I also try to avoid at all costs:

?         The Thumber: You see the camera and immediately give a thumbs up sign, usually accompanied by the cheesiest grin you’ve ever seen. And if the race is really going well, you give two thumbs up!

?         The Flexor: These runners flex their muscles at the camera – usually the biceps, because it’s blinking hard to actually flex your leg muscles while running.

?         The Waver: All this achieves is put a blurry object vaguely resembling a hand in front of your race number, meaning that the race pic company can’t identify you to send you your pic. Or worse, you ruin the pic of the runner next to you – and Murphy’s Law says it will be the one time that runner actually managed to strike a good pose, but now your hand is covering half his face!

?         The Reluctant Winner: Camaraderie sometimes makes us want to hold on to each other, especially as we cross the finish line, so we hold hands and raise our arms. This pose works well if all runners participate fully, but invariably it is one runner raising another’s hand, and the pained expression on the latter runner’s face just says, “I’m tired and I can barely lift my arms anymore… so give my arm back, you madman!”

?         The Flasher: On cold days we wear jackets or shells over our race vests, which means our race numbers are covered. Then suddenly we see a camera and the first thing we do is lift our outer top to show our race number, and just like that, we’re caught flashing. It never looks good.

 

THE RIGHT STUFF

My standard pose these days is The Ignorer, a valiant effort to avoid all the above-mentioned poses. The logic is that if you pretend to ignore the camera and concentrate on running while looking determinedly straight ahead, the camera will hopefully, for once, capture you looking like the elite runner you wish you were. Problem is, invariably the pic gets taken just as you gasp for breath, so your faces is contorted, your eyes are slightly glazed and you look like you are just about to collapse. At least, that’s what I look like…

 

But the ultimate pose for runners to avoid is The Walker: For some reason, runners have this morbid fear of being caught ‘on film’ walking. We have no qualms about taking a walk break during a race, but just let somebody point a camera at us and we heave ourselves back into running motion, even if it makes us look like a walrus trying to drag itself up a steep beach! Just as long as nobody sees evidence of us walking!

 

Dedicated to all those hard-working race photographers, who patiently put up with us weird and wonderful runners.