Just getting to the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon was a
challenge. People walked for miles from their cars or stood
mournfully on the green line platforms waiting for a subway car with
space. Even if you do have a press pass, it helps to be tall
if you want to see anything.
You can't get anywhere near the finish line unless you show up hours
in advance, are press, have volunteered to work for the Marathon, or
have some connection with John Hancock, the Boston-based insurer that
sponsors the event.
The wheelchairs start at 11:45 am and finish first.
Having started at noon, at 2:09:15, Moses Tanui (Kenya) crosses the
Followed by some fellow Africans looking none-too-cheerful ...
(Cosmas Ndeti (Kenya) at left; Abebe Mekonnen (Ethiopia) at right)
And then Stephen Moneghetti (Australia), followed by Luiz Dos Santos (Brazil, finished 11th at 2:11:48)...
Followed by Uta Pippig (Germany, 2:27:12), looking pretty happy to be
winning her 3rd Boston Marathon and Tegla Loroupe (Kenya, 2:28:37), a
painful few hundred yards behind...
And then a whole bunch more random men...
1 in 10
On a good day, 10% of the runners will need to stop in the medical
tent before being herded farther down Boylston Street to the Boston
Shooting Fish in a Barrel
You can be fat and lazy but if you have a "press photo bridge" pass,
you can get images that will sell to magazines all over the world.
Just drag yourself up above the finish line, park your tripod,
ballhead, and 300/2.8 (or bigger) and fire away. Canon EOS predictive
AF tracking works great when the runners are coming straight toward
First, remember to take plenty of film. One hundred rolls might be
nice for starters (note that the bags at right contain Ektapress, a
color negative film very forgiving of exposure errors so you can even
Then get yourself a big honkin' white lens. These guys have Canon
600/4's which cost $8500 and come in their own suitcases. You don't
absolutely have to have Canon to be a sports photographer. I saw an
AP photographer there who was a real man. An Asian of slight stature,
he was handholding a Nikon 300/2.8 while another Nikon body and
80-200/2.8 was hanging from his shoulder. Usually just carrying the
80-200/2.8 is enough to make me want to lie down.
The TV guys take even fewer chances. They were using Canon video
zoom lenses: 6-500mm. That is not a typo. 6-500.
And this would be the result....
Classic Marathon Images
Before and after crossing the line...
Again, this time horizontally ...
40,000 runners is a lot...
Playing with Shadows
Hugs and Clicks
Happy to be Crossing the Line
At the End of the Race
About the Photos
These photos were taken back in the age of film, exposed on 10 rolls of
Fuji Super G Plus 400-speed color negative film (total of 360
exposures). The camera was a Canon EOS-5 film body, which was roughly
in the middle of the Canon EOS range at the time. The images were
captured with three lenses: 70-200/2.8L (1.4X teleconverter on a few of
the pictures from the photo bridge), 28-70/2.8L, and 20-35/2.8L. I used
a 540EZ fill flash when possible, but that wasn't very much due to the
EOS-5's lack of high speed flash sync.
Pictures copyright 1990-1995 Philip Greenspun
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