In days of yore when I was a newbie I used to wait expectantly after every race for the photo website to post a bunch of tiny, watermarked and completely identical photos of me – and I would buy the lot.
I remember after doing my first Ironman in Canada I went straight to the event photographer’s table and hoovered up every single photo I appeared in. This included some of me on the run where I had shoved a sponge under my cap to cool myself down and looked like I was running while simultaneously inflating my head.
These days I’ve become much more selective, only picking the ones that make me look fast or hard-as-nails. This is easier said than done, though, which is why I’ve got a drawer full of photos where instead I just look fat and knackered. But there is usually one photo where I’m at least lifting my knees when I run or I’m not pulling a face that makes me look like I’m on Crimewatch’s Most Wanted gallery.
This year, however, there is not one single photo where I’m not committing one of the following sins:
Both feet on the ground: I have photos of me running where it looks as if I am literally standing still. Both legs are straight and both feet are on the ground – together. I have no idea how I do this.
Camping it up: There is something about my swim exit that means photographers capture the precise moment where I’m exhaling through pursed lips while pulling my wetsuit zip down with my arm at right angles, which makes me look like Larry Grayson mincing off to T1.
Being overtaken: I do not want photos of me losing, or even looking like I’m losing. I have a photo from the first time I ever raced for GB, where I’m overtaking an Italian bloke on the run. I saw the photographer capture the moment so waited eagerly to see the photo. Except that, thanks to my shuffly running style and his big dynamic stride, it looks like he’s overtaking me! Each time I explain this I just sound like a desperate liar.
Dishonest finishing time: On occasion I may have faintly exaggerated my finishing times, such as passing off a 10:39hr Ironman as “Oh, I did a 10:30”. I don’t want evidence that exposes my serial fraudulence.
Following through: Once, just once, I’d like a photo of me running where I don’t look like I’ve soiled myself.
No Wiggo: In my mind’s eye when I’m cycling I am a flat-backed, stone-faced, fast-pedalling Wiggo-alike. In photos, however, I look like a prawn on a bike, with a hunched back, flailing arms and legs, topped off with a goggle-eyed pink face.
Give us a smile: In some photos I’ve spotted the photographer and smiled. What the hell was I thinking?! I don’t want photos that make this look easy! I want them to show me as a granite-jawed he-man, overcoming some impossible challenge with my athleticism and brilliance. Or at least not looking like a simpleton.
Lack tackle: Some post-swim photos suggest an absence of anything noteworthy below my waist. Not an image I wish to encourage. I could do what I do when I go swimming and shove a pair of rolled up socks down my trunks, although I usually shove them down the back because there’s no better way of getting a lane to yourself than if people think you’ve soiled yourself.
All of these render this year’s photos completely useless and there is not a single one that I would show to others or post on Facebook, which is of course the only reason for buying them. (And thank you 220 for commissioning the above drawing to avoid them being published!)
The only way I can salvage this season is to go and see my chum Gary Hill at City of Lancaster Tri, who specialises in taking portrait photos of triathletes as we go about our sweaty business. I’m hoping he can use a bit of mood lighting and some dramatic scenery to make me look windswept and interesting, and not like some stringy white creature you’d boil up to make soup.
Are you guilty of any of these race pic sins? Let us know in the comments below!