Running with Cameras

Capturing the sport of it all as an image or a video.

Autumn in Red Deer

September 22, 2015

Can you imagine how many times I’ve been tempted to take my SLR running? 

Well, perhaps if you cannot it is only because you are not nearly so obsessed by either of these hobbies as am I. The real answer is that it is too many to count. Yet, until this past weekend it had never been so.

Cameras that I’ve carried into races or onto training routes have been pocket-sized. My phone is an excellent running camera, and I’ve been carrying it for emergency purposes anyhow. And the GoPro is literally designed for sport, so give me an excuse and I’ve got my mobile tripod or my jaw-clamp bracket ready to run.

But I’ve always been a little reluctant to take the 6D out onto the trails.

Running is a jostling sport. Things bounce and shake, and I’m not only referring to the fleshier parts of the equation. A well-padded backpack would keep a camera fairly stable, but a well-padded backpack is also big, and heavy, and can chafe in funny places.

Each year I’m recruited –volun-told…

Each year I’m recruited –volun-told, as the saying goes– that my camera skills and equipment have been enlisted for the annual Terry Fox run in Red Deer, the location where my mother-in-law has stumbled into the position of Queen Organizer. She wants pictures. And each year I’ve chosen various ways of capturing the multi-hour narrative that involves set-up, registration, pre-race, race, finish, and wind-up barbecue.

Yet, I always struggle with the race part. Often, I snap some pics of the runners departing, toss my camera over to Karin for safekeeping, and then go run. One year, a couple years ago in fact, I mixed it up and in-line skated the whole route with both a GoPro strapped to my chest and my SLR in my pack. I’d race ahead of the pack, snap some pics, race ahead again, and repeat.

Yet this year I was compelled by some combination of simply feeling it and the fact that the route had been last-minute adjusted to an out-and-back (due to trail construction) and rather than hand off the camera to Karin, I loosed the strap, tucked it into my sportiest camera backpack, and set off at a rapid clip into the trails.

I was not pacing myself in any capacity.

I ran fast. As far as either training runs or races go, I was not pacing myself in any capacity. I surged past Sunday runners in a blur, weaving around joggers with a strong pace, and even scooted past some of the slower cyclists. I sprinted the course in fits and bursts, and punctuated my one-klick laps with the photographic effort of plunking myself to the edge of the trail and pointing the camera at the dozens of people I’d just raced by.

Rinse and repeat.

My final time was modest, and I’d turned around a bit early on the course to mix up my subject matter for the return trip, but by the time I finished I’d acquired a healthy stack of on-trail photography, and the sense that perhaps running with an SLR camera strapped to my back is not the impossible feat I had earlier imagined. 

I mean, not every run… but I expect you’ll see more trail pictures someday soon.