Time To Ring Some Changes

On 28 September 2019, it will have been the occasion of my 150th appearance as photographer for Maidstone Parkrun. It’s also the occasion I have chosen to mark my “retirement” from the role.

I began shooting parkrun photos right at the end of 2014, and although other things meant 2017 was perhaps a lean year, I’ve continued without any big gaps right through. Nearly five years. I’m stepping down for a whole mixture of reasons.

Many of you will know that I am a fairly successful sprinter in Masters Athletics. That’s right – a sprinter. I race at 60 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres. For my age group, I have been in the top four or five on the UK rankings for several years now. I started parkrunning in 2014 when a wrist injury was preventing me from training properly, and I needed to keep things ticking over while it healed. There’s a bit about it in a blog at the time, here:

I enjoyed the atmosphere and the whole set up of Maidstone’s brilliantly-organised parkrun so much that when the opportunity came to resume what I normally do for training for my track events, I did what comes naturally to me. I remained involved, as the event’s volunteer photographer.

For several years now, I have been a freelance photographer, specialising in the perhaps mutually exclusive areas of sport and landscape photography, but doing much else besides. I began sprinting as a young teenager, and it has always been a regret that, when I began, hardly anyone used to photograph track athletics. The result is that I have only a tiny photographic record of my running in my teens and twenties. I blogged a bit about this here:

One long-term outcome from that is that I hate the thought of others having similar regrets that nobody photographed them running – be that running on the track, or as parkrunners. I understand the pleasure – and motivation – that can come from seeing good photos of yourself “in action”, and I’ve tried to ensure Maidstone parkrunners get their fair share.

Well, by a recent count, I make that “fair share” worth over 50,000 photographs. That’s as in fifty thousand. And those are only the ones I’ve retained on my archives! Add to them all the shots I didn’t like, plus the inevitable small (honest, guv’) percentage of technical failures and the true figure is a bit larger.

To some of you, I’ve become known as a bit particular about what I will shoot, or keep. When you’ve been shooting parkrun for a while, the waving and saluting to the camera, frankly, becomes more than a bit of a bore. I’ve always preferred to see people looking their best while actually running, and my job has been to try to capture that with the camera. The very varied lighting conditions through the year at different points on the Maidstone course also mean that black outfits (sorry 100 Club members!) are quite hard to photograph well, so there came a point where I almost gave up trying to shoot them. So, if you are a habitual waver who also wears black, my belated apologies. You probably think I was picking on you particularly.

What next? Well, I’m not going anywhere. At the moment, my tally of parkruns completed is a paltry 36. I’m not ashamed of that, given that 5km every Saturday morning doesn’t normally fit into my training plans. However, 2019 has been a tough year for me on the track, and I had to abandon all sprint racing in early July, with chronic pain in my right knee. I’ve recently been cleared to begin exercise again, however, and for a while, I’m going to be a slow parkrunner – target time not faster than 35 minutes. That’ll probably be a mixture of running and walking too. Who knows? I might make it to my red 50 t-shirt.

Beyond that, I don’t have plans right now. The life of a 65 year old sprinter tends to thwart plans anyway. I’ll still be picking up the camera on a Saturday morning to shoot special events, etc, but nothing regular. It’s the turn of someone else to discover the rewards of doing that.

Good luck to them, whoever they might be, and thank you to all of you who have been my subjects for the last five years.

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