Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hundreths of a Second to the World Championship

I love pouring over images from the running races I photograph. Things often happen fast and you can shoot 1,000 or more images during a race. You don't always realize the stories you are capturing until you piece the information together.

At last week's US Mountain Running Championship in North Conway, NH, the top spots were won by fairly large margins. In the women's race, Kasie Enman of Huntington, Vermont took first place by almost two minutes over Longmont, Colorado's Michelle Suszek. For a photographer, that mean's capturing the finishers at a pretty leisurely pace.

A minute after Suszek crossed the line, I could see Brandy Erholtz leading Megan Lund and Amber Moran as they pounded down the final pitch of the Cranmore Mountain course and on to the flat that approached the finish. It looked like Megan had a chance to catch Brandy, but she had some confusion on the most direct line to the finish and had to course correct in the final 100 yards. Things were getting interesting fast.

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Brandy dug in and left everything she had on the final flat. In three steps, she opens a lead on Lund and Moran. Body language tells the story. Megan is throwing herself forward in a final effort to catch Brandy.

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Megan's effort is strong, but by now Brandy is crossing the line. Erholtz takes third place and secures a spot on the US National Mountain Running Team. You can't help but wonder how Lund's error impacted her ability to pull together the mental strength to catch Erholtz.

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Megan Lund takes fourth place and the last spot on the National Mountain Running team. Amber Moran of Skyline, North Carolina crosses the line fifth and realizes she's just missed the National team. Only the top four women go to Albania in September to compete in the World Mountain Running Championship.

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An amazing finish by unbelievable athletes. Looking at the results, you see how close it was with the reward of going to Worlds at stake.

3rd Place 0:35:12 Brandy Erholtz Evergreen, CO Team New Balance
4th Place 0:35:13 Megan Lund Basalt, CO Team Montrail
5th Place 0:35:14 Amber Moran Skyland, NC Team Inov8

Despite the hard finish, the athlete's mutual respect is evident after the race with hugs and smiles all around. Congratulations to all three runners for an amazing race. See all of my photos from the US Mountain Running Championship Cranmore Hillclimb at www.joeviger.com.
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