DecaUK, Brutal Events, 2019
I've just come back from covering DecaUK, a 12 day festival (?!) of ultra triathlon events, including the UK's first continuous Deca, together with the one a day Deca, and the half up to quin distances as well.
As if a Deca isn't a fairly horrendous prospect in itself, the British weather decided to make it even more interesting, throwing in a 39 Celsius day just for sh*t and giggles and then to make a month's worth of water fall in a 24 hour period in North Yorkshire. It was all beginning to feel a bit biblical. Sections of the track turned into a quagmire and I'm pretty sure that I've developed Trench foot. There was a lot of weather, basically.
For an event of such a grand scale ( 24 miles swim, 1120 miles cycling, 262 miles running), it's an incredibly intimate and humbling experience. The place took on an almost surreal qualilty - a small lad named Owen deserves a mention in despatches as he liked to pop up and tag alongside competitors on the run course, asking superhero/ superpower related questions , and often prompting very robust debate on the subject. The distraction was very welcome. I never did find out whether he thought if any of the competitors were real life superheroes.
Extreme pain, fatigue...watching the care and tenderness that was given to them by friends, family, the Brutal crew, and amongst themselves. It brought out all that is best in humanity and it's not often that one gets to experience it in a collective environment.
I used to feel a bit conflicted when covering events where people maybe aren't at their best, a bit awkward and intrusive. I'm better at it now, simply because I figure that there are times when the right thing to do is to put the camera down and give someone a cuddle first.
I want the camera to be an extension of my eye, not some recording device devoid of empathy. I admit to having a few tears when I was editing - you become quite invested in wanting people to achieve this incredible thing and are sad for those of who did't get to the Finish line and just so happy (and proud) for those who did.
Here are some of my favourite pics to give you a sense of the atmosphere. All people in these shots are real life superheroes by the way, in case you were wondering.