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Tuesday 6 May 2014

Race Pics: Undead Pensioner Filter & Why Tomorrow Is 'Push-A-Hot-Runner-In-The-Hedge-Day'

I may have mentioned before how truly photogenic I am in race pictures. Every hair in place, makeup perfect, both-feet-off-ground-flying pose ... Oh hang on. I’m getting distracted by the cover of Runners World again. Me? In running pics? I look awful. My hair is plastered to my forehead, mouth gaping open like I’m trying to attract flies and soul-less zombie eyes. You know that look in Zombie films they use so much makeup to perfect? In race pics I have that NAILED.

And even more irritatingly, I don’t even look as though I’m running. I look as though I’m standing on one leg whilst competing in some sort of gurning contest. Possibly waiting for the villagers to start throwing things or lighting the torches and bringing out the pitchforks. It seems very unfair. Paint me green and I’m basically Shrek. Standing on one leg.

Why am I hopping? And swerving?

One of my London Marathon race photos is gorgeous. The bright blue sky, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background ... then there’s me in the foreground. Spoiling it.

Gorgeous view .. shame about me!

There must be something I can do about this. I don’t want to resign myself to a lifetime of truly awful race photos, like some sort of wall of horror, documenting how dreadful I can look at each year of age whilst wearing lycra. Worryingly, the photographer has even shown my future as – dehydrated and nearing the last miles of a marathon - in some of the photos I appear dreadfully aged. It’s as though the photographer has used the ‘Undead Pensioner’ filter. Can’t see it going down in a big way on Instagram …

My Pre-Race Look: 'Aunt Sally' from Worzel Gummidge. (Source)
I’ve TRIED to solve the horrible pic problem. I attempted running with makeup on but it just made things worse. Pre-race I felt like Aunt Sally from Worzel Gummidge, all hairsprayed and made-up. I couldn’t move any part of my face but I was guaranteed to have at least one race photo in which I didn’t look like a zombie, right? No. My ‘Aunt Sally’ look lasted precisely 10 minutes after which I started getting a bit sweaty. The race photographers gleefully snapped away and I ended up with series of images in which I appeared to be impersonating Alice Cooper. But with meltier makeup and a more extreme hairstyle. Don’t try this. It doesn’t end well. And no. I’m not showing you the race pics.

My Post-Race Look: Alice Cooper (Source)
I’m pretty sure that I’m a hopeless case, but I’m thinking that there must be a chance – however small – that by the laws of averages a decent pic must come along sooner or later.

For it to be a good race photo, I must look:

  1. Like I’m running (even moving will do. I’m not fussy.) Just so long as I don’t just look as though I’m standing on one leg like a stork waiting for its dinner.
  2. Like I am not about to be violently sick exorcist style. (In my recent London Marathon photos I look as though I’m about to switch on the pea soup).
  3. As though I’m not trying to catch flies with my mouth. I must have some sort of Gape-and-Run disease as I’m doing this in almost all my race pics.
  4. Like I’m not in the grips of some bizarre Run Rage and about to attack innocent spectators. Even if I am.
  5. Normal-ish. Like a photo I would be happy to have on the mantelpiece. Or hang in the loo.
Reading this back, I have a horrible feeling it might be a bit of a tall order.

Sod it. I can’t change how I look on race day. Let’s CHEAT.

‘Image Manipulation’ is practically magic, right? I keep hearing about how amazing computers and Photoshop are. Surely I can do something about these photos. Maybe with a bit of tweaking and clever little changes I can get something decent to hang on the wall. And I won’t have to resort to the paper-bag-over-the-head that was SO kindly suggested.

I tried my hand at a bit of the magical Photoshop. It’s not magical at all. And it needed a LOT of swearing and mouse-banging to get anywhere. Frustrated and incompetent, I finally resorted to pasting my head in a non-running pic onto my running body. The results were amazing. Amazingly shit. And I look as though I suffer from Teeny Head Disease. Although see how serene I look? Hardly as if I’m running at all ... almost as though I’m sitting at work. Cough.

Natural, right? Did I get away with it?
I wouldn’t mind SO much if it were a universal truth and everyone looked horrendous in their race photos, but just to rub salt into my wound (Deep Heat into my chafed places?) I see some race pictures and the person looks amazing. Just amazing. Perfectly coordinated clothing, a running form most coaches would melt over and with an easy running-hills-is-a-LOT-of-fun-smile. Damn you.

How am I ever going to get a decent pic if people keep racing me to the finish line?
Granted, I probably don’t help myself with my ‘got dressed in the dark with the contents of the school PE lost property box’ fashion sense but really? How do these people do it? Should I be bribing the photographers beforehand? Are there pitstop places on race day that you run through and makeup ladies pop out and powder your nose? If there are I hope they have names like ‘’We Powder, You PB’ or ‘Want a Runner’s Body but Not a Runner’s Face?’ Or maybe they are just photoshop whizzes. Surely I can’t actually look like these race photos in real life. Small children would be crying as I ran past. And geese would attack ... Oh.

Even more irritatingly, these photogenic people are also running some great times.

However, just to make me feel better and for all of those zombie-running and seriously-ill-runner photo recipients of what should have been your hour of crowning glory, I’m nominating tomorrow as ‘Push a Hot Runner in The Hedge’ Day. Not a hard push, just a bit of a shove. Then take a photo. They’d probably still look bloody gorgeous though.



  1. he he he he he he he he he *falls off chair* :) I love your race pics !

    1. Hmmm … you love them in a 'Glad They're Not Your Race Pics' kind of a way, I imagine! :) I just don't seem to be nailing this looking-normal-in-photos lark ...

    2. Afraid to say I am one of those photogenic runners! My tips here:

    3. Ha ha!! You're definitely my Push-In-The-Hedge candidate Gemma! Looking good!! :)