I love these events for the incredible expressions of drive, will, strength, and determination written across the faces of the athletes and for the images they create.
How are we podcasting in these complicated times? We managed to pull off an in-person Spartan Up podcasting session this week with Joe De Sena and Sefra the Seedhuntress. Here's how we did it:
A few classic Spartan Death Race photos featuring many who have become the rock stars of the Spartan Race / Peak Races world: Amelia Boone, Isaiah Vidal, Yancy Culp, Robin Crossman, the Borden Family, Johnny Waite, Pete Coleman, Ella Kociuba, Rob Barger, Jason Jaksetic, Josh Fiore and many others! If you notice a name I missed, leave it in the comments please!
After recording an interview with Dan Crowley, Bataan Death March survivor, we were inspired to take on the Bataan Death March Memorial at White Sands. It's a marathon distance "ruck" carrying a 30lb pack. Our Spartan Up podcast team consisted of Joe De Sena, Sefra the Seedhuntress, retired Col Tim Nye and his brother Joe, retired Command Sgt Major Frank Grippe, and Ewalk (Erica Walker)... and me with the camera gear and mics.
Here's what I packed for the adventure.
Part crazy, part inspiring,always thought-provoking - this year a Guinness World Record was set. Sometimes confusing, sometimes surprising, always enlightening - the Death Race is back.
What I love about photographing this event is that pretty quickly all pretense is gone. Self consciousness in gone. The athletes are focused on their challenges, their internal battles, and each other... and all that can be read on their faces. Extreme joy, exhaustion, pain, love and triumph.
This is one of the quick turn around social videos I cut for the Spartan during the race.
I'm fortunate that my gig producing the Spartan Up Podcast with Joe De Sena includes meeting our amazing guests then pouring over the interviews in post. It gives me a weekly shot of motivation and insight. Here are a few recent examples:
Mindy Hamilton has a high power job, SVP of partnerships at Marvel, but you might be surprised by her simple advice: Don't live in shame, move on! It applies to the big and the small mistakes we make in our personal and our work lives. She also talks about her unique career path, one that could have appeared directionless to an observer, but in fact was like a foraging expedition in which she collected all the skills and experience she would need in her current role. Full interview on apple podcasts at https://apple.co/2GSmZL6 or search YouTube, Google Play, or Spotify.
How do you think about those around you whose skills are not the same as yours? A chain may only be as strong as its weakest link, but according to adventure racing success Ian Adamson a good team is FASTER than its slowest member. In fact a good team is faster than its fastest member. How do you work to bring up the level of the entire team?
How do you tell a story of struggle and triumph? How do you show how truly and astonishingly difficult an endeavor is ... and how do you do that in a way that expresses the power and triumph experienced in overcoming that challenge? We used to depend on the narrative arc of a movie or a book, but we no longer tell or consume stories in a linear fashion. Today each image needs to stand on its own, and at the same time be part of a narrative expressed via multiple channels, sometimes simultaneously.
This weekend I photographed a 60 hour endurance event called the Spartan Agoge. Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend. Ones that I hope show the strength, joy, suffering and transcendent determination the participants experienced.
The Peak Mountain Bike race has taken a variety of forms since its inception. From the 666 to the "Gnarly Adventure." In 2017 the race became a Leadville Qualifier, and with that it was time to revamp it's image. For 2017 we came up with a new name "Peak Woodsplitter." That inspired names for the rest of the Peak series which now contains the Peak Woodsplitter, Peak Snowdevil Winter Ultra/ Snowshoe Race, and the ultimate race the Peak Bloodroot Ultra. Along with the new names we designed a series of "stamp" based logo treatments, social and email campaigns.
The idea was to keep a reference to the Peak history with the classic peak mountain element, while embracing a gritty homegrown feel that the races have as compared to their big brother Spartan Races.
One of the best ways to get attention, engagement, and show off the Green Mountain Trails where the race is held is with a series of videos distributed via social media and email.
To look at his smile after completing the Spartan Beast at Killington you'd think it was easy.
We picked Chris up just before 3am on Saturday September 22nd and drove him to meet Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena at Killington. By 4am, in the clear cool starry night, Chris began the 13 mile 35 obstacle race. I set him up with a POV camera and followed him on and off over the first few miles through the dark. While my crew (Blake) rushed back to base to pick up time lapse shots of dawn breaking, Forest Call walked the entire trip with Chris. It wasn't until about 5:30 pm that we were able to walk Chris through the finish line.
We've put together a video for Spartan coaching following Chris on his entire 20 week experience here in Pittsfield Vermont at Spartan HQ culminating with his experience at the Killington Beast.
Great job Chris, I can't wait to see what you take on next!
[videography: Marion Dane Abrams, Forest Call, Blake Farnham]
Have you heard about Chris Davis? Not too long ago he was 700lbs. He measured the distance he could walk in feet, and had to plan his route from car to office carefully. He went to the doctor to see about gastric bypass surgery and was told he was TOO HEAVY. Chris motivated himself, lost 100 pounds, had the bypass surgery and has not stopped pushing himself since.
Today finds him in Pittsfield Vermont, home of the Spartan Race "Spartan HQ," where he is training with Joe De Sena for next week's Spartan Ultra Beast. It's a 26+ mile obstacle course on the face of Killington Mountain. We've been documenting his progress in weekly videos for the last 20 weeks, and we can't wait to see him take on the Ultra Beast. Go get it Chris! We're rooting for you.
You can follow Chris on Facebook at the Project Chris Davis page.
On March 27th I was envious of the "pause" to reassess and learn I kept hearing about. I was fortunate enough to still be working, so I committed to a more active blog. This is my chance to think out loud about podcasting, messaging, story, nature, family and life.
~ Marion Abrams