It was 4am on Saturday morning....the alarm clock was ringing loud....it was time to get up, travel north to the mountain areas of Northern Hong Kong and get ready for a very very long day of shooting the HK100 ultra-marathon event. 27 hours later at 7am the Sunday morning, we finally stopped shooting and packed up our cameras, having shot over 2000 images, and headed home for what we thought was a well earned sleep! Of course our task was nowhere near as difficult as the participants, who had to run, walk and crawl 100km across some of Hong Kong's infamous peaks and trails, with a total elevation change that equates to twice the height of Everest! (Ryan Sandes - Winner HK100 2012 in a new record time of 9hrs 55 mins!!)
Our job was to record the action, the drama, the emotion and the glory of the event, and we hope we have done so to the best of our ability. We would like to share a few of our pictures here so you can see the diversity of the participants, their pain, their pleasure and really just an overall amazing experience for everyone who took part. We started off as expected at the start line, capturing the pre-race nerves and party-like mood of most of the participants, which was great to see, given the fact the next 24 hours of their lives was going to be painful!
(this guy on the right about to run 100km across rocks with no shoes on?!? Must be crazy!)
We were astonished to find one runner who was doing the event with NO shoes....and even more amazing was the fact that he was among the front runners as we travelled around the course! Here's some images of him in action at the 36km mark...as you can see from his facial expressions, I'm sure he would rather have some nice running shoes on...haha....we have to applaud his courage...or is it insanity?!
(slow sync flash with the Canon 5DII and 24mm mark II prime lens)
We used a combination of Canon 5DII's with wide prime lenses and slow sync flash to capture close up action as well as a couple of 7D's and long lenses which were perfect for sports with their fast drive and autofocus.
(the two Nepalese runners who led the way for much of the race, eventually coming 2nd & 3rd)
The course was extremely well marked and manned by the hundreds of volunteers, with checkpoints being very welcome breaks for the athletes, and a good opportunity for refreshments, fixing feet and catching up with loved ones.
(smiles all the way to the finish line)
Every part of the course we covered, people were ecstatic, smiling, screaming and thoroughly enjoying the experience...to be fair, at the finish line most people were much quieter by that stage having spent a very long day and night on the hills.
(high ISO in the middle of the night - no problem for the 5D mark 2)
The Canon 5DII again came into its own during the night, with its great high ISO performance, allowing us to capture some nice moody black and white images lit usually only by headtorches and the occasional lamp.
(5D mark II with fisheye lens and slow sync)
After 25 hours of photography, I thought it was time to break out the fisheye lens and try to get some shots with that, so it was a case of lying down on the floor underneath the small flags at the finish line, trying some rear sync flash and getting extremely close to the runners as they came across the line, this gave a dramatic effect which I like...similar to a lot of my styles of photography, i really believe the old saying "if its not good enough, your not close enough....".
(James the videographer from Mededs with Gary, RJ taking a break and in action during the night)
In the end, we packed up our kit at first light on Sunday, and headed home, a great experience for us, made me reminisce of my army days being stuck out on a mountain all night, but its all part of the fun, great event, great people, and we hope we have done it justice with our images. We look forward to next year, where we will ensure Starbucks has a takeaway truck parked up the top of Tai Mo Shan for us :-)
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