Sunday, July 5, 2009

Upper Walking Boss, Loooooon

A few days before the Loon Mountain race, race director, Paul Kirsch, mentioned that nobody ever shot photos from the Upper Walking Boss and he wouldn't mind seeing some from there.Well, it sounded like a good subtle hint to me and a great challenge too. I watched the start of the race down along the Pemigewasset River and then made haste for the gondolas for a ride to the top, well, almost the top. 

Once i got off the gondola ride, i had to get to the North Peak before the runners reached the same. I booked it up the Summit Trail, a 300ft rise in about 1/3 of a mile, a power walk mixed with some slow running, all while carrying two good size cameras. That little hike kicked the crap out of me, but i made it well before therunners. Now that i was there, it was time to start down Upper Walking Boss, a black diamond slope. My first reaction was, i'm not walking down there, but with a closer look, it did not look so bad. At least i wasn't running up it! Watch your step going down and it is easy. Once the runners started coming up, it was all worth it. I love to shoot where the runners are pushed to their limits and this is one of the best places i have ever been able the photograph. Anything you shoot at the local 5k could never come close to what you see here.
See all my photos here.

It was great to see Jim Johnson coming up the slope first, granted he wasn't moving too fast and seemed to 
be getting caught. He did get caught and then got it all 
back and then some on the descent. Good win, Jim.

 The grade where i started shooting was around 40-45%. You look at some of the pictures and have to be amazed at the angle these runners are to the slope. Absolutely brutal! A few of the runners did manage to run, slowly, all the way up the mountain. Talk about quad burn.

 As i worked my way down the course, taking photos all along the way, most everyone is in good spirits. You wouldn't think so if you saw what they were in the midst of running up. I got many smiles and mugging for the camera. I carried on some short conversations and joking around. I even had some runners ask why i was shooting pictures on the worst part of the course. Why shoot when you are running comfortably, that is too easy. Of course, i told them Paul made me do it :) 

These mountain runners are a great group of people.

Read these blogs for the real runners accounts of the race:

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