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Europe's Tough Mudder 2023

This past weekend it was the annual Europe’s Toughest Mudder at Belvoir Castle. This event runs for 12-hours during which participants take on obstacles, terrain and the mental challenge.

This year was a little different to previous as it wasn’t freezing cold and hammering down with rain. Usually, runners will “pit” during the event to change into a wet suit or other kit required to cope with colder temperatures.

This year, the June date meant more day light and as there’s a bit of a summer happening, some more reasonable temperatures. Runners crossed the start line at 8pm and that’s when we kicked in to capturing their endeavours.

The first lap is a “sprint” lap. His means there’s very limited obstacles and it’s a great way for the runners to get familiar with the route the course takes. Especially useful during the night when a runner can find themselves tacking the route solo.

The photo team headed up to one of the higher parts of the course. This was to capture the runners and a little bit of the sunset that was happening behind the castle. By lap 2, obstacles were starting to open up and the team made their way around these capturing the action of getting though “pitfall” and over “Hero Walls”.

Throughout the night, different obstacles would open and close to mix things up for the runners and to bring in a bit of a variety to each lap. The warm weather seemed to keep the course busy. The photo team “pitted” a couple of times too - much needed coffee and pot-noodle re-fuel breaks.

Shooting in the darkness is good fun as it’s very different to the usual events where we can actually see what’s happening. It also allows us to use different techniques to tell the story of the event. As the sun rose on the Sunday morning, there were still lots of runners out on course.

We’ve covered 12 and 24 hour endurance events in all types of situations and there’s definitely a steely tranquility among the runners as they get closer to the finish time. Back in 2018 and 2019, we covered endurance events in Iceland and Sweden - the snow, ice and cold certainly adds to the experience - for the runners and the photo team. Camera batteries don’t like the cold, so there’s some curious storage options to keep them warm.

Back to Belvoir. In the last couple of hours, we were positioned at the finish line. This allowed us to capture runners coming through electro shock - the final obstacle - as well as those finish line moments as runners reached the end of their race. We’re in utter awe of what we see on these events. This is no walk in the park and the participants and their pit crew really do put one hell of a shift in. And yet - in the first wave of the Sunday - several overnight participants are heading back out on course. Amazing!

Tokyo Marathon - 5th March 2023

Working with the team at Fitness International Travel, we found ourselves on the streets of Tokyo capturing runners from their group as they took on the challenge of the City's annual marathon event. 

Alongside the sporting spectacle, there was the opportunity to visit a number of city attractions and master the metro system. Which is a lot more straightforward than many others thanks to easy to follow station numbers and signage that was in both Japanese and English. 

We had 2 x course side photo spots for race day, The first one at 9kms and the second at 40. Despite their being almost 40000 runners it wasn't too hard to spot the FIT runners as they came passed. 

The Tokyo Marathon is a prestigious annual marathon race that takes place in Tokyo, Japan. It is one of the six World Marathon Majors, which also include the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City marathons. 

The idea of organising a major marathon race in Tokyo was first proposed in 1980 by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations (JAAF), but it took more than two decades for the concept to come to fruition. In 2006, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, in collaboration with the JAAF, established the Tokyo Marathon Foundation to plan and organize the marathon event.

The inaugural Tokyo Marathon was held on February 18, 2007. 

The whole trip was a superb experience and I look forward to the next time

Burton Albion v Derby County - 10th December 2022

Burton Albion took on Derby County at the Pirelli Stadium at the weekend. It was only the 3rd time the club had hosted their closest rivals. The previous two occasions were a 1-0 victory in August 2016 and a 3-1 victory in April 2018 - both during the two-season stint in the Championship. 

This was always going to be a busy day. For Epic, it meant that there would be plenty of pre-match activity to capture. Pre-match involves working with the club's media team to capture content for the match, match ball and man-of-the-match sponsors as well birthday celebrations and mascots. Additionally, for this match, there were two special guests attending too - 1 of which was the local Roundtable's Santa.

I arrived at the ground 3-hours ahead of kick-off. This allows me the time to get some content for early social posts for the club, In this case, a few shots of the match ball on the pitch and the ground staff working to get the frost covers off the pitch. 

Lastly, it's the mascot, match ball and captains shoot immediately before kick-off and then just settle down to capture the action.

There was a large crowd of almost 6,000 supporters. And given the local rivalry, plenty of atmosphere and noise. The visitors took an early lead, but there was no shortage of action as both teams got stuck into the match. This kept me busy as I wired images to the media team throughout the half - any key incidents and or talking points. 

Halftime was a quick break in things and partially packing my gear to move to the opposite end of the pitch. I always cover the Burton attack. Most often from behind the goal, although if an away ground allows it and the positing of the traveling fans is right, I will sit at the side. Oxford Utd is a good example - although there's no stand behind 1 goal at the Kassam Stadium! 

The second half was a busy one. Lots of attacking action to capture as the eventual man of the match, Bobby Kamwa, gave the Derby defence a lot to think about. The pressure finally paid off when Victor Adeboyejo headed in from close range. 

It is at this moment that the work really starts. Have I captured the shot/ header on goal? Where's the celebration heading? Do I need to move? Do I need to switch cameras? On this occasion, it was fairly straightforward. The celebration is heading my way. I do move slightly as the players initially face the seats, before moving again as they turn towards the celebrating fans on the terrace. It's a fairly long celebration so there are lots of opportunities to capture images. 

The second part of the work now starts. Getting the images to the media team. whilst also keeping an eye on any action the pitch. The goal is the story (so far) and therefore, both the club and the newspaper are going to want the images to go their written reports and or social posts. 

The match ends 1-1. On the final whilst, it's moving on to the pitch to get some images of the players and the crowd. 

The final image captured on the day is the Man of the Match. 

After that, it's sending over stock images from the game that could be used between matches or in the programme for the next fixture. 

Next up - Accrington Stanley in the Papa John's Trophy. 

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July 2022

Tough Mudder - July means the annual events in Scotland at Drumlanrig Castle and Yorkshire at Broughton Hall. Both offer an ideal mix of terrain, mud, and weather. 

Spartan Race - the 2022 Midland event rolled into the "home" venue of Martson Lodge. A Trifecta weekend along with a 12-hour and a 4-hour Hurricane Heat made for a busy weekend of photography, but the bright sunshine and a couple of sunsets made it a highly enjoyable one.

Dance - A busy month for dance shows with the summer showcase and Jet Set shows with M3 Studios as well as shows for Roam Dance in Shrewsbury, Total Starts in Rugeley and AJ Dance in Lichfield.

Burton Albion - it's always good to work at home in Staffordshire. A few new faces and a new kit meant a couple of player headshot sessions as well as capturing the pre-season friendly action at the Pirelli Stadium with matches against Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City, and Sheffield United. The season proper started right at the end of the month as the Brewers travelled south to play Wycombe Wanderers. 

Full Steam Events - the team covered both the Castle to Coast event and the Eton Dorney Family Triathlon. The Castle to Coast tri is a superb event to capture. Starting in the tranquil surroundings of Dorney Lake with a swim section the participants next take on a 60-mile cycle ride through the Surrey Hills and down to Hassocks. Next up is a challenging run section that concludes with a sea view finish line on Hove Lawns. 

Over in the US and Canada the team was busy with Spartan Race and Mud Girl Run covering the events in Milwaukee, Richmond, Ottawa, Montreal, Minneapolis, and  Red Deer.

The favorite shot of the month - this one - captured during 12-Hour Hurricane Heat with Spartan Race UK at Marston Lodge. 

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