This past weekend, I had the perfect assignment to help me mark the one-year anniversary of a work-related injury I suffered. A year ago, I took a fall in a cave while shooting a tourism assignment and broke both my pelvis and my back. After two months in a wheelchair and a ton of physical therapy sessions, I’m back to almost a 100%. The one-year anniversary of the accident was definitely on my mind in the days leading up to the weekend. On Saturday, I shot a 50-mile running race, the Fall 50, from the tip of the Door County peninsula to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Documenting this race is a long hard day with the first images being the solo runners hitting the incredibly scenic 50-mile trek before sunrise and ending with a huge party 50 epic miles later as the sun goes down. I’m obviously not running or walking those 50 miles as I shoot the race, but I did put in about 16,000 steps in the process as I jumped in and out of the car with my three cameras weighing me down.
My wife Judy was with me for this shoot as my driver, so I could quickly jump out of the car for a shot as she tried to find a place to stash the car. Judy was also with me in those days after the fall, being my rock as she slept in a recliner in the corner of my hospital room. Judy also kept the house running as I pushed myself around the main floor in my wheelchair and slept in a hospital bed in our den since I couldn’t get to our upstairs bedroom. We also had a lot of help from family and friends during that recovery period; we will always be so thankful for the love and support we received during that time.
The fall and the resulting injury do give me a little PTSD at times and has made me more cautious, but has also made me slow down a tad and appreciate things more.
Enough about the injury and recovery, let me tell you about the race. The race is a 50-mile running race from Gills Rock, Wisconsin at the tip of the Door County peninsula to Sturgeon Bay. The 50-mile scenic run takes the participants through a fall color-filled course that winds through tourist-filled quaint small towns, a state park, and along the shores of the bay of Green Bay. The race starts before sunrise with about a hundred solo runners and then four waves of teams of 4 to 5 runners and some teams of two. Most of the solo runners don headlamps to light their way those first few miles as they await daylight. Many of the teams dress up in costumes in an attempt to win the all-important prize for the best costume at the end-of-race party.
As runners make their way across the finish line at Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay, they usually get together with the rest of their team to revel in the day’s accomplishments. Once across that finish line, they celebrate with a few slices of the 600 pizzas served as music cranks and people hydrate with a few adult beverages.
The day was full of scenic opportunities for photographers like myself. I’d like to think I did a good job of capturing the epic fun of this scenic run. The phone call I got from race director, Sean Ryan, a few days after saying he had looked through the gallery of photos I sent him and that he really liked them meant a lot because of the significance of the assignment to me. When I was laying in that hospital bed in those days after the accident I wasn’t sure what the future was going to look like, but a year out I’m incredibly happy that it looks like this.
Thanks for looking!