In November 2008 I found myself, almost by chance, photographing the NYC Marathon. I had never attended the competition, I wasn’t a runner at all, I didn’t know the race course and, although I knew how to get around in the city well enough, in New York I was a little bit more than a “tourist plus”.
That day I only managed to bring home a few decent shots but, more importantly, the day gave me two precise ideas: firstly, one day I would run the New York Marathon and secondly, unfortunately, such a big event can’t be captured in a reportage made by one photographer.
In October 2019, while I was tapering training for my seventh New York City Marathon, I got injured. Nothing really serious but troubling enough to compromise my plan to improve my personal best in the race, which was just two weeks away. Months of preparation seemed to be wasted. At some point, even the chance of actually finishing the marathon seemed a bit optimistic.
After a few days of pure frustration and inpatient physical therapy, however, an idea suddenly came to mind and finally everything was “connected”.
I couldn’t run at the pace I wanted but maybe that was my chance to “capture” the NYC Marathon’s energy and soul in a reportage. I could run and photograph the race without being forced to steal shots from the sidewalk during the event.
Compared to my first photographic approach to the race, this time I had all the right “ingredients”: I had become an expert marathon runner, I was a participant, I knew the course and its peculiarities very well, I had already gone, several times, through the stages before and after the event and, apart from injury, I was trained to get to the end.
Moreover, since 2012, New York had become my second hometown as I had regularly spend several months of the year living ther, and, last but not least, in 2019, I spent many weeks researching and writing a complete guide dedicated to the New York Marathon - “The Neverending run”: writing the book entailed studying the race in-depth and walking for hours along the course over the city.
In short, I was the “perfect culprit”. I had everything: motive, preparation, opportunity. I had no alibi. I had to try. I had to try to shoot one of the most incredible sporting events in the world and capture its soul while I was part of it.
So, on the morning of November 3rd, 2019 I faced the TCS NYC Marathon like I had never done before. This time I had a totally different goal.
For the first time, the aim was not to complete the race within the desired time, but rather to catch the whole day ahead without caring how much time it would take. I was consciously violating all the usual pre-race tips and forgetting my Garmin watch and the passing of time. I had just one hope: that my legs could hold up the whole time and the injury would allow me, in any case, to get to the finish line.
I was equipped with two iPhones (I had one in my hand and the other was placed on my lower back shooting photos automatically behind me), and a detailed plan of the moments that I wanted to capture.
The result is “Race Day” which you will find over the following pages.
It is the product of one of the most incredible, intense, exciting, and fun days of my life. The exact moment when some of my greatest passions magically aligned and coexisted in total harmony.
And it is also the conclusion of an unbelievable life path eleven years in the making, one that turned a photographer into a runner able to capture images of a race he had fallen crazily in love with.
Lorenzo Maria dell’Uva