Trail Running Photography

December 17, 2015

Many of you probably know that I am not only a trail runner (known to do a few ultras as well as run around barefoot in the woods) – I am also an outdoor photographer. I occasionally shoot trail races – usually ultras – and even pull all-nighters myself trying to capture the action.

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Running under the Milky Way at Superior 100, 2014

Lots of time and energy goes into this: scouting locations before the races, lugging all my gear out to the location(s), shooting for HOURS, lugging everything back to the car, then transferring files from camera to computer, editing thousands of files, and uploading them to social media and/or my proofing gallery so runners can see, share, and buy their photos if they want to. A local 50K required 2 hours of scouting the day before the race, even though I knew that race course like the back of my hand. I needed to figure out the best spots to not only capture the action, but consider the background scenery, where to stand, which lenses to use, lighting for photography during different times of day when the runners will be going through a certain section, etc. which is a completely different game than just running the trail. On race day I spent another 9 hours of standing and shooting the race from a few different locations, about 5 miles of hiking and lugging a backpack, 2 cameras, a tripod and other gear, and 4 days of editing afterwards. For a 100 mile race later in the year, it was a 5 hour drive to get to the race, then an all day, all night, all day shoot (I was up for 42 hours straight), another 5 hours driving home, and several days of editing.

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Running under the Aurora Borealis aka Northern Lights

Western States, Hardrock, Hurt 100, Badwater – they can’t do this.

We’re lucky here in the Upper Midwest. We have some amazing trails and scenery with lots of amazing races to choose from. The people who participate in our game are warm, welcoming, and humble. Many outsiders underestimate our terrain; just because we aren’t at high altitude doesn’t mean it’s flat.


“The Drainpipe” at Superior 100

Pictures don’t do it justice – it’s steep enough that I was hanging on to a tree with one arm and shooting uphill with the other to capture the racers coming down.

The Superior 100 Mile in northeastern Minnesota has 41,000+ vertical feet of elevation gain/loss – more than Leadville. With drop dead gorgeous vistas that include waterfalls, lakes of all sizes (including the Great Lakes), northern forests, and some pretty interesting wildlife.

If you’d like to see some of the amazing places I’m referring to, feel free to stop by my North Woods Photos website and gallery. You can enter the gallery to view images or purchase prints from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, including the two night shots shown here 🙂

Need a photographer for a local trail race? Get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can work out.

Thanks for stopping by Upper Midwest Trail Races – Run On!