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  • Writer's pictureBerto Centofante

The LA Marathon On Film

Sunday, March 20th, 2022, Los Angeles, California... Marathon Day. I wake up at 630 text my girlfriend, who is competing in the aforementioned race, which starts in 30 minutes. She seemed ready, slightly nervous for the impossible task of running 26.2 miles. I wished her good luck and then started getting my prep together; I had no clue what the day would be like. My camera was already loaded up with some Portra 800, which is probably not the best choice of film to be shooting in the bright morning light, but not the worse. I then grabbed one roll of Ektar 100 and got on my way.

The plan was to see her around midway mile 13, located on Sunset Blvd just past the Hollywood walk of fame and the Chinese theater area. This is where I began to shoot. I recently got a rangefinder system; this was my first real-life practice test for it.

When I got to mile 13, the participants passing by were running at a relatively fast 3 hours and 30-minute finishing pace, Kelley (my girlfriend) was going to be closer to a 4-hour 30-minute pace, which for her first long-distance run ever is very good. The audience's energy was lovely; everyone was so happy to be outside rooting these modern-day warriors on, passing out water, Gatorade, and other strange running goos.

After about 45 minutes, she came and went onto the second half of the race; I knew I wanted to get to mile 20, which then turns into miles 25 to 26 once they loop around. I only had a few more frames of Portra before I switched over to Ektar, a film I've never shot before. I've been shooting film for a year now. Practicing and learning as much as possible while developing my own specific style. Trying new films, pushing, pulling, developing, scanning, doing all that comes with shooting film has become a significant part of my life.

Past mile 25, the final 1.2 miles for these runners, is where they are all running on fumes, legs shattered, spirits low, but they can taste the cold beer awaiting them. This is where the crowd seems to really help, cheering them on. One struggling runner asked me to take a photo of him, I have no clue how to get it to him, but he started to run again after I snapped the shot.

The end of the race is chaos, tears, ambulances, smiles, and more. Kelley finished at precisely 4 hours and 30 minutes; she was in great spirits for what she had just accomplished. She said it felt impossible around mile 22, but she got through it and has now completed a marathon; I'm very proud of her. As far as the photo experience, I am happy with how some of my images came out. I could have moved around more, but I think I got a couple solid frames.

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