In my early years of joining running events, which is about 40 years ago, runners then were not particular with their pictures before, during, and after finishing a race. What was important to them was to finish the race, get their Certificate of Finish and hoping that the race result will be published in the daily newspapers. It was only the Top Male & Female picture that would be featured in the next day’s newspapers, if the race is a Marathon distance. It was only the Marathon Races that award Finisher’s Medal to the runners!
Now that we are in the Age of the Internet and Social Media, the tendency is that you need an evidence that you are participating in a running event by posting a picture of yourself in the Internet/Social Media showing that you are really in the said event. Added to this is a “bragging right” to your friends that you are really a legitimate endurance athlete. No evidence, no “bragging rights”! And the more your pictures is being SHARED and have LIKES, the better for you that your feat is being recognized.
Let me define what I mean by “selfies” or a “selfie” picture. “Selfies” are those pictures taken by ones digital camera or cellphone’s camera where you click the shutter button by yourself with your face or body and the surroundings as a product/result in the said picture. Sometimes, I can consider “selfie” pictures when I see runners stopping by the trail or road to take a picture of the scenery or the surroundings. I don’t consider “selfie” pictures taken by official photographers as well as pictures taken by the support crew or pacer of a runner.
Let me then tell you the reasons why I hate “selfies” in running events and they are the following:
- Runners taking “selfies” with another runner on the background or taking a “selfie” behind another runner don’t ask permission to take a picture of you as the background. Most of the time on these “selfies”, they would show that I was walking or having some “low/down moments” when these pictures are taken while the one taking the “selfie” is smiling or laughing happily behind my back or in front of me. Just imagine what the picture would depict if it is posted in the social media.
- It slows me and breaks my racing momentum in races. Ok, I admit that I am a very positive person and I don’t say “No” to the requests of other runners to have a “selfie” during a race. But for God’s sake, please don’t ask for a “selfie” with me at the peak of a mountain in a trail race if I am about to continue my run to proceed on the descending/downhill part of the course. As a rule, never ask another runner for a “selfie” during the race. Every runner has their goal to finish the race as fast as they can and that is the simple essence of race!
- “Selfies” or pictures taken at the Turn-Around Points in trail runs are also annoying as it delays the momentum of a runner. Simply have the Race Marshal on these points/locations to take note or write the Bib Number and time of arrival of the runner and don’t delay the runner from finishing the race. Just imagine if you are in a group of 4-6 runners in that turn-around point and each runner would wait for his/her turn for him to pose a picture showing that he/she actually reached or passed the said place!
- In the Aid Stations, Race Marshals and Volunteers should not take “selfies” with the runners while they are being helped with their food and while refilling their hydration bottles or packs. These requests for “selfies” would alter or disturb the runner’s focus on what he decides to do in the Aid Station at the fastest time possible. Once a runner’s focus is unnecessarily disturbed, his or her temper would spike most specially if his target time to reach that Aid Station/Checkpoint is not met. To be safe, never ask a “selfie” to those who are fast and runners who are focused to improve their finish time/s in a race. Moreso, if they are elite international runners or “good-looking” lady international runners.
- Let it be known that even if I am already 64 years old, I am still a competitive runner. Having said this, I have target pace, speed, and finish time in all the races that I join. I would be happy and contented to race with the younger runners in road and in trail races, whether they are non-ultra or ultra distance events. So, a simple delay for a “selfie” would be a reason for my targets to be altered, resulting to slow performance or sometimes, bad temper!
So, what is my advise on “selfies” or taking of pictures during the race?
- If you want to improve your PR in a certain race, leave your cellphone/camera behind. Aside from being a distraction (of taking selfies/pictures), carrying a cellphone or camera adds weight to your body.
- If you have a blog or planning to document your races and need to have some pictures of scenery or places along the race route, do a recon run along the route and you can have all the time to take pictures along the route. On race day, your only goal is to focus to finish the race without any distractions.
- If you are a fast runner, you have all the time to take your pictures but do not distract or interrupt other runners and request them to take your picture or ask them to have “selfies” with you. In one of my trail races, a runner in front of me suddenly stopped along a single-track descending part of the route and requested me to take a picture of him that I wanted to deny his request. But I just smiled and did the favour to take a picture of him…not once but three times!
- In international races, don’t be stoked to world-class/elite runners by asking them to have “selfies” with them during the race. You can have “selfies” with them during the Race Briefing (a day before the race) or after the Race. These international elite ultra runners are kind and easy to talk with as they would accommodate a “photo-ops” with them once you request them to have one. I never had any problem talking to these people before and after the race.
- In races where one of the mandatory gears is a cellphone, the cellphone is a gear that is very vital for your survival just in case of any emergency/accident or serious injury that will happen to you. Bringing out ones cellphone to take pictures of the scenery and “selfies” adds up to the extra time spent in the course, most specially if you are “cut-off time beater” like me. If you successfully finished the race within the prescribed cut-off time, you can register again for the next year’s edition if you intend to run it faster and have a chance to take selfies during the race.
- You must be warned also with runners who intentionally request you to have “selfie” with them must specially if you running ahead of them. This kind of runner will destroy or impede your momentum in the race and after taking a “selfie” and making some time to pack or stow your cellphone or camera in your pocket, the one who requested you to have a “selfie” with your will just leave you without even saying “thank you”. Just when you realised that you have been tricked by this runner for stopping, you would see him almost one hundred yards ahead of you with a blistering pace.
“Selfies” are already a “norm” in most of the Social Media outlets and platforms and they are already part of being a runner and as an avid outdoor adventurer. But if you don’t have any time to beat, it is fun and self-satisfying because it creates memories to your activities or events.
With or without “selfies” running is still fun but don’t do it to me when I am racing.
Go out and run!