Steamboat Springs I had the job on Sunday morning to photograph the first leg of the Steamboat Marathon near Hahn's Peak Village and then shoot the finish some two-and-a-half hours later in Steamboat.
At first, the task seemed like a pain. Up at 5:30 a.m., get ready, go to the office for the camera and then drive, quickly, up Elk River Road to make it to the 7:30 a.m. start.
But once I was up and going, I began to understand the levity of the situation, and my attitude changed.
The morning was cool and clear. While driving up there, I passed the massive gaggle of half-marathoners warming up before the start of their race at Moon Hill. Everyone looked eager; some looked a little nervous.
My black truck weaved through Clark, then up Willow Creek Pass and finally to the first close look at Hahn's Peak from the north side of the pass.
There is a reason the Steamboat Marathon is ranked one of the most scenic marathons in the country. A huge part of that reason is the first few miles of the run, which are dwarfed by the unique mountains and hills of North Routt County. Hahn's Peak is a big green and brown beautiful monster, and near the base of it 500 runners stood on the highway preparing. When I arrived and looked at the focused faces of the runners as they deeply breathed in the cool mountain air, the levity was clear. These men and women were going to run 26.2 miles, from Hahn's Peak Village to Steamboat Springs. Sure, some up there had done it before, and some probably have run longer and harder routes. But the sheer distance in itself is amazing and is an accomplishment no matter what.
I shot the start, then drove up the road and stopped at different parts of the run to photograph the runners. Then I drove all the way back, passing every runner on the road that day, more than 1,000. The Steamboat Marathon is a race. But the fact is, it's more of a run. Only one man and one woman won each race on Sunday. More than 1,500 individuals ran to the finish line in the 10K, half-marathon and marathon. Each one who crossed the finish line achieved a personal accomplishment that I think outweighs any one runner's glory as the fastest.
If you don't agree, just go down and look at the faces of the people crossing the finish line. You will see joy from the accomplishment of finishing, not people wishing they came in first.